A lesson planning checklist

This isn’t perfect. But it’s a start.

Alongside my DOS, Sandy Millin, I just presented a lesson planning Q&A as part of the IATEFL online web conference. We’ll follow up with a joint blog post soon! There were lots of questions about what to include in a lesson plan and some people were surprised at the absence of particular things on our plans. As the questions kept rolling in I realised I should probably have a lesson planning checklist. So here it is!

A lesson planning check list.

  • aim
  • in/out
  • up/down
  • 1/2/3
  • heads
  • eyes
  • hands
  • feet

“aim” – Write an aim. Does the lesson allow students to achieve this? Does every step in the lesson scaffold the aim? If there are stages that deviate from the aim (e.g. pronunciation work), should they have subsidiary aims?

“in/out” – Are students receiving input or creating output? Is it visual or auditory, oral or written? Why?

“up/down” – Are students standing up or sitting down? How long have they not moved for? Can you maximise use of the classroom?

“1/2/3” – Are students working alone, in a pair or in a group of three or more? Has the interaction pattern varied sufficiently? If they are working with peers, are they matched on ability, interest, student choice? Why?

“heads” – Are students doing a ‘heads down’ or a ‘heads up’ activity? Is the focus on the individual or is the pressure off? Do they need differentiation? Do they need quiet processing time? Is it time to let them make notes?

“eyes” – Where are they looking? Can all the students clearly see the materials? During a listening activity, where will they look? Boardwork? Are there distractors? What’s the focal point?

“hands” – What will students be doing with their hands? Is the activity tactile, can I make it tactile? If not, who will be fidgeting with the desk or doodling in their book? How can I limit this and help them focus?

“feet” – Are students working in lock step? No: How much time is allocated to each section and how will students know when to move to the next task? Yes: How will I support students with their time management and how will I handle differing task completion times? Fast finishers?


It isn’t perfect… and that’s ok! I’ll use it, evaluate it, change it, use it, evaluate it, change it…


One thought on “A lesson planning checklist

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