This post outlines how to write a lesson plan quickly and with ease.
Yes, it’s possible to write a quality lesson plan in a relatively short amount of time!
No need to spend too much of your precious planning time writing an unnecessarily long teaching game plan.
The key is in the K.I.S.S. model – Keep It Super Simple!
When it comes to writing lesson plans, you’ve got to do things smarter, not harder
And I’m here to show you how to do just that!
How to Write a Lesson Plan: The K.I.S.S. Method
In a nutshell, here are the core steps of the K.I.S.S. method:
- Select the learning objective(s).
- Draft an interesting hook and mini-lesson.
- List the guided-practice activities.
- Choose 1 or 2 formal/informal assessments.
You may be thinking that the steps are similar to every other lesson plan format you’ve seen, but the key is in how you write the information in the K.I.S.S. template.
We’ll get to the actual K.I.S.S lesson plan template soon!
But for now, just hang in there with me!
Within this article, we’ll dive into each part of writing an effective and simple-to-follow lesson plan that can be used with all educational levels, from primary to high school.
But first, let me explain why the K.I.S.S. method of writing a lesson plan works so well.
How to Write a Lesson Plan: Why Do They Teach Us This Way?
Years ago, when I was in college working on my elementary education degree, the methodology courses always expected us to write a very detailed lesson plan.
Our lesson plans had to include…
- the learning objectives with the state curriculum codes beside each,
- every.single.resource we planned to use,
- a very detailed sequence of tasks or activities that we’d implement with the kids,
- detailed assessments to show the level of student mastery, and
- notes of how we would differentiate the lesson in order to meet the needs of all learners.
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with each of the aforementioned parts, eventually for me, the issue came down to time and the amount of detail expected to be included in each lesson.
All of that writing takes a lot of time – especially for elementary teachers who teach 5 or 6 different subjects!
I mean, it can be just too much!
During my college year, drafting detailed lesson plans for class assignments and student teaching wasn’t such a big deal.
My job was pretty much to go to college; I didn’t have any other major responsibilities outside of my school work.
But do understand, however…
I totally get why educators need to know how to write detailed lesson plans.
The process helps us to have a deeper understanding regarding the level of knowledge, energy, and resources that go into teaching a quality lesson.
And as you know, it’s not just about getting up there in front of the kids and “teaching” something with little to no planning.
There’s quite a bit of thought and preparation that goes into what we’ll teach.
But there is an easier way when it comes to how to write a lesson plan…a way that is smarter, not harder.
How to Write a Lesson Plan: Facing Reality
Fast forward to my first official year of teaching…
My principal gave me a lesson plan book with all of these little squares.
I’m sure you know what I’m talking about!
She expected me to write my lesson plan for each subject in these little squares.
Imagine my confusion.
I had spent all of this time in college learning how to write these very specific lesson plans and now at my new teaching job, I was expected to cram all of that information into a tiny square …
or so I thought!
Needless to say, I was overwhelmed!
How in the world was I supposed to write a thorough lesson plan for math, reading, writing, science, social studies in addition to spelling and have time for grading, parent conferences, making copies, etc. while still having a life?!
I had to come up with a plan and fast!
The K.I.S.S. Method Is Born: How to Write a Lesson Plan
I’m a huge believer in doing things smarter, not harder.
Hard work I have no problem with, but if there’s a way to do something faster and more efficiently while at the same time maintaining quality, count me in!
Thankfully, the principal at my first school wasn’t too particular about how teachers wrote their lesson plans.
The main two things she wanted to see was a learning objective and clarity of the lesson parts.
I could work with that!
After consulting with my teaching team to see each teacher’s lesson plan writing method, (none of which really fit well with my teaching style), I came up with a system to help me create lesson plans in an easy-to-follow, non time-consuming way.
The end result was the K.I.S.S. strategy!
It saved oodles of time and anxiety.
Throughout my teaching years, I happily used the method without fail.
If you’re a brand new teacher, you may require more time in getting used to the concise format of the K.I.S.S lesson plan writing method.
In the beginning, you may want to write your lesson plans in a more detailed fashion until your teaching style and instructional practices become more set, polished, and streamlined.
After a while, so much of what goes into teaching a lesson becomes more natural, and you’ll find that you can spend less time doing detailed planning.
This is where the K.I.S.S method of how to write a lesson plan comes into play!
The K.I.S.S. Basic Lesson Plan Format
The K.I.S.S. (Keep It Super Simple) basic lesson plan format is essentially summarizing your lessons into four (4) concise parts: an OBJECTIVE, a BEFORE, DURING, and an AFTER.
Think of yourself as putting on a show for your students, with your performance divided into four (4) segments!
Every show has a…
- Theme (learning OBJECTIVE).
- Hook (lesson introduction/mini-lesson). BEFORE
- Plot of Events (Guided-Practice Activities). DURING
- Finale (Assessments). AFTER
1. The learning objective(s) come from your mandated curriculum.
2. The lesson introduction is where you grab the students’ attention and introduce the learning objective. Teacher modeling is an essential part of the BEFORE part of a lesson plan.
3. The guided-practice activities make up the DURING part of the lesson plan and provide students with opportunities to apply the skill or strategy they just learned about during the mini-lesson.
4. Informal and formal assessments done AFTER the practice activities help the teacher know how well students grasped the learning objective(s). The teacher uses this information for future lesson planning.
Though these are the core components, the key when using the K.I.S.S. method is the way you write out the lesson plan information.
And that way is through concise summarization.
Summarizing and recording only the main parts of the lesson has its benefits…
- You save time.
After some time, you’ll be able to knock a few subjects out within an hour and a half!
- Overwhelm is at a minimum.
The stress of getting every little detail right within your lesson plan is gone.
When working with kids, your plan most likely won’t go exactly as planned.
With the K.I.S.S. method, you’ll still have the confidence to teach the lesson because of a well-thought out, solid lesson plan foundation without all the fluff.
- Your lessons have ample room for flexibility.
Out-of-the-blue, teachable moments are part of daily instruction.
And those “aha” moments are amazing!
A concise, basic lesson plan format such as the K.I.S.S. strategy allows us as educators to marinate for a moment in those unscripted thoughts and discussions without the anxiety of getting too off-track.
If you struggle to write your lesson plans quickly and easily while still maintaining quality, then the K.I.S.S. strategy is perfect for you.
Okay. So finally…
Let’s Dig Into It!
How to Write a Lesson Plan Using the K.I.S.S. Method
Why in the world are some lesson plan formats so unnecessarily complex and full of stuff and more stuff?
We’ve got to prioritize!
Learn how to write a lesson plan all over again! 😛
Ok. Not really.
But let’s work smarter, not harder when it comes to writing your lesson plans!
The Hard (But Delightfully-Detailed!), Time-Consuming Way:
Below is a pretty-detailed lesson plan that I grabbed from a colleague.
Let’s transform it using the K.I.S.S. basic lesson plan format.
Before Implementing the K.I.S.S Method
Topic: Three-dimensional shapes
Objective: Students will be able to classify and sort two- and three-dimensional figures, including cones, cylinders, spheres, triangular and rectangular prisms, and cubes, based on attributes using formal geometric language. (Texas Math TEK: Standard 3.6 A)
Grade level: 3rd
Vocabulary: cone, attribute, height, width, depth, sphere, cube, cylinder, prism, figure, face, edge, vertex
Materials: manipulatives in the form of solids, semantic feature analysis graphic organizer (1 per child), various 2D shapes drawn on individual sheets of paper, 3-2-1 exit ticket
To start the lesson, show students the square drawn on a sheet of paper.
Next, show a die or other solid figure in the form of a cube to the class. Ask what observations they have regarding the similarities and differences between the square and the die.
Ask students the following questions:
- Are you able to enclose the die with your hand?
- What about the square? Can you wrap that drawing with your hand?
Now perform the same procedure using a rectangle drawing. Afterwards, show them the cereal box and ask the same questions as above.
Here’s the essential question to ask:
- What is the main difference between the shapes drawn on the pieces of paper and the objects?
Accept logical responses and delve deeper is understanding isn’t clear.
At this point, confirm to students that both the die and cereal box are 3D figures.
Seek prior knowledge from the learners about 3D shapes.
Explain that three-dimensional means that the objects have width (indicate width with your hand to the width of the box), height (indicate height of the box) and depth (as indicate to students using actual object).
Further elaborate how each of the objects can be categorized based on their attributes.
With the children, show all the objects while naming each with their appropriate geometric term (e.g. die-cube, prism-cereal box, cylinder-can of soda and sphere- tennis ball).
Using one of the solids manipulates, model identifying and naming the attributes of each form.
Do another example if students need. An anchor chart is a great tool to create during this mini-lesson so that learners how something to refer to when working on guided activities.
So that the kids get practice in categorizing and naming solid shapes, put them into groups of 3 or 4.
Have your Paper Distributor or other appropriate student classroom helper distribute a semantic feature analysis graphic organizer to each child along with a set of solids manipulatives to each group.
With their group members, students will analyze the attributes of each solid and record observations on the semantics feature analysis graphic organizer.
Walk around to observe and facilitate as needed.
Students will now work individually.
Do the 3-2-1 exit ticket informal assessment to grasp how well learners absorbed the learning objective.
3 attributes that can be used to describe a solid
2 objects in the form of a cylinder
1 new vocabulary word learned during the lesson
How to Differentiate: During the guided practice group activity, the teacher will pull a small group in order to help those students who require a bit more support with a targeted learning objective.
Appropriate accommodations will apply as needed for specific learners.
That was a lot.
Now let’s do this the smart way!
The Smart Way using K.I.S.S:
Take a look at the lesson plan above and focus on the steps.
Summarize the big tasks.
It’ll look something like this…
By the way, “RA” stands for read aloud.
I use quite a bit of shorthand when writing a lesson plan using the K.I.S.S method.
Doing so allows me to squeeze in as much essential information as possible.
My shorthand “abbreviations” look like this…
Obj: (for objective)
B- (for before)
D- (for during)
A- (for after)
Other abbreviations I’ve used…
- RA= read aloud
- RT= reader’s theater
- ML= mini-lesson
- GP= guided practice
- PK= prior knowledge
- GO= graphic organizer
- T-P-S= think-pair-share
- W= whole group
- SM= small group
- 1 to 1= teacher conferencing
- WS= worksheet
- CTR = learning centers
- MD= model/demonstrate
You get the point.
Your short-hand abbreviations are unique to you and should include whichever symbols make things clear and easy for you to understand.
Here’s a more concise version of the math K.I.S.S. lesson template…
What about all of the lesson plan details!?
When you’re planning, you’ll have all of that information more or less in your teacher knowledge toolkit (code: your head!)
In my humble opinion, it’s not necessary to write down every little detail unless you’re a brand new at writing lesson plans or mandated to do so.
The Hard (But Delightfully-Detailed!), Time-Consuming Way:
Another detailed lesson plan, this time from my literacy archives!
Again, let’s transform it using the K.I.S.S. basic lesson plan format.
Before Implementing the K.I.S.S Method
Topic: Finding the Main Idea
Objective: Students will be able to identify the details or facts that support the main idea. (Texas Reading TEK: Standard 3.13 A)
Grade level: 3rd/4th
Vocabulary: main idea, detail, summary, big idea, message
Materials: video on finding the main idea, plastic hanger (1 per student), string, cloud/rain drops graphic organizer template, concentric circle posters/anchor chart, a read aloud book focusing on main idea
First, the teacher will show students a BrainPop Jr. main idea video to grab their attention.
Afterwards, she will seek learners’ prior knowledge with a main idea concentric circle activity.
To do this, the teacher takes an anchor chart that has a blank main idea concentric circle drawn on it.
She then lists a bunch of closely or loosely-related terms (or images) on the outer part of the concentric circle.
As a whole group, students discuss what could be the main idea of the items and provide rationales for their responses.
After coming to a consensus, the teacher (or a student) records the main idea in the inner circle.
Afterwards, to practice finding the main idea, the teacher places students in pairs.
Each pair receives a nonfiction short text based on a current social studies or science unit.
With their partners, learners will read the text, choose a section, and then create a main idea mobile from that section.
A model of a completed main idea model hangs in the classroom as a reference for students.
Before student pairs begin, the teacher reviews the activity instructions and checks for understanding.
Since readers have been learning about finding the main idea for about two weeks now, it’s time for a formal assessment.
After reading a grade-appropriate fiction or non-fiction text, each student will, individually, complete a main idea graphic organizer that depicts the main idea of the entire text or a segment of it.
A rubric accompanies the assignment to guide students.
How to Differentiate: During the guided practice main idea mobile activity, pairs are strategically partnered depending on reading levels and learning styles.
The teacher pulls a small group during guided practice time in order to scaffold the learning for those readers struggling with the learning objective.
Furthermore, appropriate accommodations apply as needed for specific learners.
Extension Activities: whole class main idea Jeopardy game (Take a look at these other great main idea extension activity ideas!).
The Smart Way to Write this Lesson Plan using K.I.S.S:
Okay, let’s summarize!
Let’s focus on the big tasks and ideas of the lesson.
Don’t over analyze.
You’re basically writing the gist of the main parts of the lesson.
When you’ve thought it through for a moment, your finished lesson plan should look something like this…
An alternative, more concise version…
Not so bad, right?!
Give it a try!
The Final Product
Here’s how your lesson plan book looks once you start filling it in using the K.I.S.S. lesson plan writing strategy.
Click the image below for a closer view.
When NOT to Use the K.I.S.S. Lesson Plan Method
While the K.I.S.S. lesson plan writing model guides you in how to write a lesson plan quickly and easily, it’s not always wise to use it.
When is it not a good idea to use the K.I.S.S. method?
- You’re mandated by your school or district to write a detailed lesson plan based on a pre-designed and pre-selected template.
- Your teaching experience is very limited.
- You don’t feel quit comfortable yet writing such a concise lesson plan; you need the support a more detailed template provides (which is perfectly fine, of course!).
In conclusion, as educators, we’ve got more than enough on our plates to keep us busy.
And when it comes to how to write a lesson plan, it’s best if we switch our thinking a bit.
More isn’t necessarily better – especially when referring to our time and quality of lessons.
Ironically, we can produce quality teaching by focusing on less.
Let’s just Keep It Super Simple, shall we?! ☺️
So what do you think about the K.I.S.S. lesson plan method?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Wishing you a smarter way to plan,
WHAT TO READ NEXT:
- A favorite of my loyal readers, take a look at the following article for other fantastic ideas in working smarter, not harder!
- Afterwords, bookmark this collection of meaningful report card comments to help you get those suckers done faster! No need to reinvent the wheel.
- And though planning is inevitable, why not lighten the ambience a bit with some soft, wind-down music? Mellow is what’s on the menu.