Writing effective lesson plans for the first time is understandably challenging for many law students. We've simplified the process below and designed a handout to illustrate the different parts of a lesson plan.
- Begin with the end in mind. What do you want the students to learn from this lesson? What is the critical question that students will be able to answer as a result of this lesson? What should students learn or be able to do as a result of this lesson
- Does your lesson plan need to meet any of the national standards for civics and government?
- Begin two lists that you will add to as you as you develop your lesson plan.
- Vocabulary terms: key terms for your students to understand
- Materials list: a list of AV equipment, student materials like handouts, and any other props or visual aids you need.
- Could this lesson benefit from the expertise of a community resource person? If the answer is yes, keep in mind their role as you write the lesson.
Writing the Lesson
To help visualize the different lesson components, download the Parts of a Lesson Plan handout.
- HOOK: Begin your lesson with a hook: a short activity (5-10 minutes) that directly involves students, gets their attention, and prepares them for what’s coming. It might be a quick poll of the group’s opinion about something, showing a short video, or having students partner up and brainstorm answers to an opening question or two.
- LEGAL CONTENT: After the introduction, provide the legal content of the lesson. Try to find ways to deliver this content without always lecturing. While some lecture might be unavoidable, keep it short. Have students read, discuss, listen, and investigate. This portion should not be more than 1/3 of the lesson.
- APPLICATION: Once students have some mastery of the content, have them participate in an activity(ies) to apply the content. The lesson’s activity(ies) should employ interactive teaching methods and comprise at least half of the lesson.
- Consult the Teaching Strategies table to help determine the best interactive methods for your lesson.
- DEBRIEF: To wrap up the session, lead a discussion/reflection that focuses on what the students learned during the session. Students should summarize key concepts and discuss how the knowledge/skills can be used in other situations. This is the evaluative portion of the lesson. Can the students answer the lesson’s essential question? Have they achieved the lesson outcomes?
- Once you have a clear idea about the content of your lesson plan and how it will be organized, write down step-by-step instructions for everything needed to deliver the lesson—instructions for the law student, student directions, slides, scripts, hypothetical problems, case studies, discussion questions, student handouts, and assessment tools.
- It’s helpful to include the amount of time you will spend on each section. Remember to give students adequate time to ask questions and practice new content and skills.
- Read through your lesson plan. Is anything missing? Does anything need to be clarified?
- Ask another law student to read the lesson and provide feedback.
- If possible, teach the lesson to a group of law students and make necessary adjustments.
- After teaching the lesson at your site, make note of any problem areas and propose solutions. This way the next person who uses it can benefit from your experience.