A Teacher's Guide to using a Lesson Plan Template

Paul Main

How do use a lesson plan template for designing an exceptional learning experience? Download the template and get designing!

What is a lesson plan template?

Starting with a blank lesson plan can be quite a daunting prospect. On one level, we want to make sure that our students are really thinking through the lesson content and this requires a well thought out plan of action. On the other hand, this takes a lot of work and classroom teachers are notoriously pushed for time. So how can we create teaching resources with clear learning objectives that can carefully guide our class to successful learning outcomes? In this article we explore some common myths associated with the lesson plan and offer a new way of creating what we call thinking guides. Plenty of organisations offer lesson plans and but most of them failed to provide a uniform way of designing lessons.

Using the planning template for creating a beautiful lesson
Using the planning template for creating a beautiful lesson


Using a blank lesson plan template

Starting from scratch is hard work and in this blog post you can download a template that will help you create a daily lesson plan or scheme of work plan for your class. Many so-called experts offer what they call the holy grail of lesson planning, indeed, some of these are comprehensive. However, anyone working in education knows that it's not one size fits all. Our approach is to use the Universal Thinking Framework for designing a simple lesson plan. The process can be used to guide lesson activities in meaningful ways that produce an exceptional learning experience. You don't have to reinvent the wheel, you just have to apply a little creativity to create a perfect 5-minute lesson plan.

universal thinking framework
universal thinking framework


The first question you want to ask is 'how do you want them to think'? Once you have established where the meaning is in the lesson, you can use the adaptable lesson plan template along with the universal thinking framework to create a sequence of learning rich in critical and creative thinking. This approach to lesson planning means that your learners will become well acquainted with the language of learning. In this sense, the method means that as well as ensuring the coverage of the curriculum, your class will also become more familiar with the process of learning.

You might also want to think about these areas:

  • Is there any specialist vocabulary that we need to think about?
  • Is there an overarching concept that my learners need to understand?
  • How does the lesson link to the previous lesson?
  • How can I stretch my most able students?
  • How can I scaffold my learners who need extra support?
  • Could we build in any opportunities for students to take the learning in a different direction?

A simple lesson plan template
A simple lesson plan template


Creating a sequence of learning using an editable lesson plan template

Once you have downloaded a blank lesson plan template from our website, you can begin to think about a rigourous journey through the lesson content. The universal thinking framework learning actions can be inserted into the principal lesson plan template. This drag-and-drop approach to designing instructional teaching resources means that you'll always end up with a learning journey that can be adapted to all teaching styles, perfect for your PPA cover

A thinking guide using a printable lesson plan template
A thinking guide using a printable lesson plan template


Getting teachers familiar with a comprehensive lesson plan template

Depending on the lesson context, the generic lesson plan template can be used in a variety of different settings. This can be used to reduce lesson anxiety and build that essential familiarity that our learners enjoy. For experienced teachers, this approach can be used to create a sequence of lessons that ensure a deep learning experience for the whole class. Reducing the burden for teachers is a big advantage to planning in this way. One of the issues in teacher education is how to introduce concepts like this. For both student teachers and season teachers, having a uniformed way of working will make sure that all students receive a consistent education experience.

Creating a learning experience using a lesson plan template


Getting started with your blank lesson plan template

A great exercise to do for both teacher education and teacher professional development in general is to sit everyone down in the same room preferably and ask them to design a series of lessons that tackle the same topic. What are you will find is that everyone approaches at differently. A film teacher will approach this differently to an English school teacher. The key stage one teacher will approach it differently to a key stage to teacher. The point is, what you will be left with is a consistent design using the same simple lesson plan template. This teacher training exercise enables educators to understand that we all think differently and educational experiences need to reflect this if you want to create inclusive classrooms.

Start with a template, finish with the resource

Designing learning experiences such as a conventional lesson plan or a scheme of work does take a lot of effort. Starting from scratch requires a lot of focus, we want to design dynamic lesson plans but sometimes there isn't enough time. This is where instructional teaching resource websites fill the gap. They offer an immediate solution such as a PowerPoint which we can begin to use immediately. The problem with this approach is that the learning is directed by the resource as opposed to a clear academic rationale. An exceptional learning experience should be underpinned with a thoughtful way through the content, children remember what they think about so we have to cause them to think. We encourage our members to initially park the resources and the creative design. Start by bringing our attention to the learning actions that will drive the students understanding. What are these and in what order should we sequence them? Once we have established our 'mental satnav' we will be in a much better position to think about assessment opportunities and the resources we need to support the lesson.

Start using the Universal Thinking Framework in your school

If you want to reduce teacher workload and join the thousands of teachers using the universal thinking framework then we would welcome a conversation. This tried and tested approach to create broader learning experiences has enabled classrooms around the world to flourish in what recently have been quite difficult times. If you want to see how the framework has been embedded into other learning activities then please do visit the graphic organiser page to see how this works.