Guidelines for Lesson Plans

The following are guidelines, not rules, and can be broken when necessary to make a lesson more effective.

Guiding Question: A broad, open-ended question that will pique the student’s curiosity and focus interest on the main concept(s) introduced or expanded upon in the lesson. It should never have a simple yes-or-no answer and does not necessarily need to be resolved in the lesson. For example -

Why does a kite fly?
not
Can I make a kite fly?

Concepts: Are broad, abstract ideas, usually major parts of a theory. The experiment should develop a deeper understanding of this concept. See Nine Basic Scientific Concepts, which the National Center for Improving Science Education recommends that elementary schools introduce.

Example: Gravity is the force of attraction or pull between all pieces of matter in the universe.

Principles: Smaller than concepts, but still theoretical. They show the specific underlying rules which define or govern relationships between specific variables or items.

Example: Distance = Rate x Time

Facts: Specific data or factual statements that illustrate the concepts and principles discussed above.

Example: The colors coming from a prism always appear in the same order.

Skills: List the major higher-level thinking skills exercised while doing this experiment. Some examples are:

• Following Directions
• Drawing Conclusions
• Making Observations
• Testing a Hypothesis
• Understand Cause-and-Effect Relationships
• Record-Keeping
• Forming a Hypothesis
• Making Inferences
• Measuring (time, weight, temperature etc.)
• Others - specific to the experiment

Materials: Be as specific as possible about the size, type, and quantity of materials needed and how much is needed for each group or individual. Use specific weights and measures. List alternatives when they exist. Cite where certain materials can be purchased when appropriate.

Introduction: Ask questions that introduce the topic and arouse curiosity. Introduce and define new concepts, principles, and terms.

Activity: Break the activity into small and easily understood segments. Be sure the order is logical and accurate. List only the procedure and save the conclusions and discussion of results for the evaluation.

Evaluation: Summarize the experiment; discuss students’ results. Are any of the principles demonstrated; are any contradicted? Integrate results with concepts; discuss possible extensions.

Extension Ideas: Cite additional resources, activities, or research related to the lesson. Include links to on-line databases, photo archives, etc.

Link to Careers: Identify careers that may be associated with the lesson. Link to any appropriate career presentations and/or workplace tours in our directories.