John Dewey on Education Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson plan is a tool for helping students learn about John Dewey. Students will watch a video and answer questions that will enable them to describe Dewey's educational philosophies and impact on today's approaches to education.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson on John Dewey, students will be able to:

  • Cite evidence when answering questions about a video.
  • Describe Dewey's approach to education.
  • Understand and use domain-specific vocabulary.


90 minutes

Common Core Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).


  • child-centered
  • collaboration
  • democratic
  • differentiated instruction
  • facilitator
  • interdisciplinary
  • pragmatism
  • problem-based learning
  • progressive education


  • Copies of quiz
  • Copies of the lessons
  • Access to computer/internet
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Copies of state standards
  • Miscellaneous materials determined by each group
  • Various clips of teaching techniques

Video & Discussion Questions

  • Preview vocabulary words.
  • Watch John Dewey on Education as a class, and discuss the following questions:
    • Describe John Dewey's background and experiences that qualified him to develop education philosophies.
    • What is progressive education?
    • What is pragmatism?
    • What might you see happening in a democratic classroom?
    • Compare child-centered to teacher-centered approaches to learning.
    • How does an interdisciplinary curriculum encourage problem-solving?
    • What is the teacher's role according to John Dewey?
    • What types of projects would students engage in, in a Dewey-inspired classroom?
    • How did Dewey pave the way for problem-based learning?
  • Pass out the printable worksheet. Have students complete the questions independently, then check the answers together.

Lesson Plan Activity

Materials: Copies of lesson, paper, pens, access to computer/internet, Copies of state standards, miscellaneous materials as determined by each group

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