Guided Discovery Lesson Plan Template

Instructor: Joanne Abramson

Joanne has taught middle school and high school science for more than ten years and has a master's degree in education.

Learning is more powerful when students discover the answers on their own rather than being given information by the teacher. This lesson presents a guided discovery lesson plan template to encourage student-focused learning.

What Is Guided Discovery?

Guided discovery, as the name suggests, is a learning model that encourages students to discover concepts on their own through the guided facilitation of their teacher. Students explore the material individually or with a group and, with the help of leading questions from the instructor, draw conclusions and make connections that lead them to completing the learning objective. Guided discovery is a powerful and engaging tool that promotes increased student involvement and retention of the subject matter.

While this model lends itself to science instruction, it can be easily adapted to fit all subject matter. Students of a foreign language can discover a grammar rule by studying examples of correct and incorrect sentences. Physical education students can learn how to shoot a basketball by experimenting with various distances and hand positions. Math students can explore the concept of volume by manipulating 1-inch cubes. Literature students can outline the differences and similarities of myths, legends, and fairy tales by reading and discussing examples of each.

Three primary components of a guided discovery lesson plan are the Introduction, the Step-by-Step Plan, and the Closure. The following examples of these sections meet this Next Generation Science Standard for grades K-2:

  • K-2-ETS1-1: Ask questions, make observations, and gather information.


The introduction should not only provide directions for the activity, it should also pique students' curiosity and entice them to continue with the investigation. A question, riddle, quote, real-life story or object of realia are all examples of elements that can make introductions engaging.

Learning Objective Students will use magnifying glasses, rulers, and scales to gather information and make observations about objects.
Introduction/Motivation Show students a variety of objects including a magnifying glass, ruler, scale, and other objects like paperclips, small toys, pencils, cups, pennies, crayons, etc. Ask students to brainstorm uses for these objects. Tell students that they will be investigating and learning more about these items in the following activity.

Step-by-Step Plan

This section outlines what the students and teacher will be doing during the activity. The essential elements of a guided discovery lesson plan are the leading questions that scaffold the learning and guide the students to completing the lesson objective. If the activity and the questions are too open-ended, the students will become confused or frustrated and may simply give up. If the questions are too pointed or the activity is too simple, the students are just going through the motions and may miss out on the powerful 'a-ha!' moment. So plan your questions ahead of time, but be flexible during instruction and adapt to the needs of your students.

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