UW Continuum College Instructor Resources

Structuring Individual Class Sessions

Students often arrive at UW PCE classes after a long day and listening to a lecture for three hours is difficult. We encourage instructors to break up the time and use a variety of instructional methods to keep students engaged and invested in learning. As every class session is a little bit different, depending on the subject matter and the objectives for a particular day, you should modify the sample lesson plan to fit your needs.

Lesson Plan template (Word document)

Lesson Plan template example (PDF document)


Sample Lesson Plan

Learning objectives

By the end of this class session students will be able to:

(Writing out explicit learning objectives is a valuable exercise for you as the teacher, but can also help communicate to students the point of the lesson.)

Connections between material

(Share how the material covered that day connects or builds from the material covered in previous meetings or assignments. This can help students understand how the material from before has helped prepare them for this session.)

Student work (products)

By the end of this class session students will have produced the following work

  • …(e.g. have a draft outline, emailed to instructor and an assigned peer)
  • …(e.g. completed group worksheet (paper or virtual))
  • …(e.g. digital photos of group whiteboard or poster-paper activity)
  • …(e.g. one paragraph “quick write”, or exit ticket)
  • …(e.g. written notes – consider encouraging collaborative note-taking whereby multiple students contribute to a single document online.)

(Articulate to yourself and to students the kind of work students will actually do during class. It need not be graded assignments, but it should be something that you or the students can review at a later date.)

Lesson structure

(When preparing to teach for three hours, it is helpful to think of it as three one-hour lessons and plan accordingly. In a one-hour lesson, it’s important to try to include different kinds of activities – engage the students in talking, writing, and moving around. Teacher-led lectures and demonstrations should be no longer than 30 minutes, if possible.)

First 5 – 10min:  Some kind of opening task.

Examples:

  • Post a question, claim, or statistic for students to consider and discuss
  • Have a student share a relevant news item or blog post (rotating responsibility), or give a “flash talk”
  • Play a quick quiz-show type game to review and prepare

(Keep in mind that many students will be arriving after a long day at work – they’ll likely be tired and feeling mentally drained. An opening task can serve as a transition, warm-up and energizing opportunity to set the tone for the rest of the class session.)

~ 50 minutes:  First topic or content idea.

Consider including a mixture of:

  • mini-lecture, demonstration, or discussion
  • activity, task, problem, group work (try to get students up out of their seats)
  • consolidation of the idea: groups or individuals share out, or students do an individual writing task
  • un-graded or low-stakes survey or “quiz” of understanding
  • provide some kind of extension prompt, food for thought, or interesting exception-to-the-rule

5 min break  (Encourage students to get up out of their seats, stretch and move.)

~ 50 minutes:  Second topic or content idea.

Consider including a mixture of:

  • mini-lecture, demonstration, or discussion
  • activity, task, problem, group work (try to get students up out of their seats)
  • consolidation of the idea: groups or individuals share out, or students do an individual writing task
  • un-graded or low-stakes survey or “quiz” of understanding
  • provide some kind of extension prompt, food for thought, or interesting exception-to-the-rule

5 min break  (Encourage students to get up out of their seats, stretch and move.)

~ 45 minutes:  Third topic or content idea.

Consider including a mixture of:

  • mini-lecture, demonstration, or discussion
  • activity, task, problem, group work (try to get students up out of their seats)
  • Provide “exit ticket” prompt or question for students to complete before they depart (e.g. “What’s the muddiest point?”)

Last 5 – 10 mins:  Instructor sets up homework expectations, reminders, etc.

(As with the opening task, it is valuable to plan a little transition time. This is a good opportunity to take care of “housekeeping” tasks, return assignments, set up 1-on-1 conferences, and set the students up for success in whatever needs to occur between this session and the next class session.)