Evaluation Tools for Lesson Planning

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

As a teacher, you are always working to improve your curriculum, organization and instruction. This lesson offers you some concrete tools you can use to evaluate your lesson planning.

Why Evaluate Your Lessons?

As a new sixth grade teacher, Annie knows how much she has to learn. For the first several weeks of school, she really focused on getting to know her students, developing strong classroom management procedures, and establishing solid communication with families.

Now, though, Annie understands it is time to start thinking more deeply about her curriculum and instruction. Though she has been planning her lessons faithfully, she is concerned that they are not working out too well. Annie realizes she needs some systematic tools to evaluate her lesson plans, or think about what is strong about them, what is weak about them, and how she might go about improving them.

Evaluating lesson plans helps teachers improve their practice, develop strong reflective habits, and meet the needs of the learners in front of them.

Evaluating Design

Annie realizes that part of the lesson plan evaluation process has to do with evaluating her lesson design, or the structure of the lesson itself. When she thinks about the design of her lesson, Annie is mostly thinking about the plan before she has put it into practice.

Each time Annie writes a lesson plan, she asks herself the following reflective questions about its design:

  • What is the purpose of this lesson?

Asking this question helps Annie ensure that she clearly understands her own teaching objectives. If she can answer this question, then she will know whether she has accomplished her goals at the lesson's end.

  • What challenges do I foresee in teaching this lesson?

Thinking through potential obstacles in advance helps Annie redesign aspects of her lesson that might be especially hard for students to access.

  • Which learning styles is this lesson appealing to?

This question helps Annie ensure that over the course of the week, she builds in activities that meet the needs of the wide range of learners in front of her.

  • How will I know whether this lesson is effective?

Asking about efficacy in advance helps Annie prepare informal assessment tools that will allow her to understand whether students are grasping what she wants them to.

Evaluating Implementation

Another part of lesson planning has to do with evaluating the implementation of the lesson, or how it actually went in practice. This part of evaluation takes place after Annie has taught a lesson.

Annie knows that no lesson will ever go exactly according to plan. When she evaluates her own implementation, she asks these questions:

  • What went well in this lesson, and why?
  • What went badly in this lesson, and why?
  • Did I meet my objectives in this lesson? Why or why not?

Plus, Minus, Delta

Annie also learns about some specific tools she can use to help with her evaluation processes. One such tool is the plus, minus, and delta chart.

This is a three-column chart that Annie can complete after teaching a lesson. In the plus column, she writes a few specific things that went well over the course of the lesson. In the minus column, she writes about things that did not go so well, and in the delta column, she writes ideas for how she might change her process next time.

For instance, after teaching a lesson about character development, Annie includes as a plus the fact that she called on every student at least once. A minus is that few students referred back to their texts for evidence, and a delta is that the next time, she will more clearly model using textual evidence.

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