Critical Components of Lesson Design Guide

There are a variety of lesson plan formats available as many districts have different ways to showcase each lesson plan component. In the 1980’s Madeline Hunter developed a lesson planning method which was widely accepted across the country. This lesson planning method is called Essential Elements of Instruction (EEI). The Lesson Design that Rio has developed closely resembles the EEI plan. The Critical Components of Lesson Design (Rio Salado College) combines both the traditional EEI best practices as well as modern advancements in lesson plan research.

Preparing a Lesson Plan

A beginning teacher will need to put more time and effort into creating detailed lesson plans than most veteran teachers. Having a detailed lesson plan will help to ensure that the lesson sequence is well thought-out. This doesn't mean that instruction will not deviate from the original plan (most likely it will). As a new teacher becomes more confident and experienced they will not be writing lesson plans for every minute of the instructional day. Lesson plans will help structure effective instructional strategies until more experience is gained.

When preparing a lesson plan the teacher needs to devote time and energy when planning each lesson, whether the lesson is with one instructional period in mind or creating a lesson that is part of a larger picture (or unit). For a teacher to facilitate the best possible learning environment, they must carefully select opportunities and activities which will support mastery of pre-determined measurable objective(s) which students will apply to real world situations.
Rio Salado’s lesson design includes:


The “Planning” phase highlights logistical informational components which include name, subject area, lesson date, unit title (if applicable), lesson plan title, grade level, time required, materials and media, aligned state standards, measurable objective(s) Criteria for Mastery (quantitative and references the assessment), remediation, and extensions.

All of the components listed above are fairly self- explanatory, with the exception of Materials and Media, Aligned State Standards, Measurable Objective(s), Remediation and Extensions.

Materials and Media

Aligned State (Student Content) Standards

Research your current state standards which are typically found on the state education department website.

Measurable Objective(s)

Measurable Objective(s) are statements that describe significant and essential learning that students will achieve and can be performed by the student at the end of the lesson. In other words measurable objectives identify what the student will know and be able to do by the end of the lesson. It is important to keep in mind benchmarks, goals, measurable goals include some of the vocabulary that is used to interchangeably to describe objectives.

To assist in remembering these terms think of them as the ABCD of writing objectives. The ABCD model breaks instructional objectives into four parts:





Measurable Objective(s) Exemplars with component indicators

The behavior/action verb is the most important element of a measurable objective and describes what the student will be able to do following the instruction. Bloom’s Taxonomy and Webbs’ Depth of Knowledge are two concepts/tools widely used in the education field and backed by educational research to specifically describe intended behaviors.

Bloom’s Taxonomy was created by a group of psychologists and is a tool for the organization and categorization of different levels of learnings. The six levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (lowest to highest) include knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Each of the levels relate to how the brain processes information and thoughts.

Bloom’s Taxonomy Verbs

When developing curriculum for your class, keep this list nearby. This will help you determine the level of response you are anticipating from your students.


Count, Define, Describe, Draw, Find, Identify, Label, List, Match, Name, Quote, Recall, Recite, Sequence, Tell, Write


Conclude, Demonstrate, Discuss, Explain, Generalize, Identify, Illustrate, Interpret, Paraphrase, Predict, Report, Restate, Review, Summarize, Tell


Apply, Change, Choose, Compute, Dramatize, Interview, Prepare, Produce, Role-Play, Select, Show, Transfer, Use


Analyze, Characterize, Classify, Compare, Contrast, Debate, Deduce, Diagram, Differentiate, Discriminate, Distinguish, Examine, Outline, Relate, Research, Separate


Compose, Construct, Create, Design, Develop, Integrate, Invent, Make, Organize, Perform, Plan, Produce, Propose, Rewrite


Appraise, Argue, Assess, Choose, Conclude, Critic, Decide, Evaluate, Judge, Justify, Predict, Prioritize, Prove, Rate, Rank, Select


Webbs’ Depth of Knowledge by Nathan Webb was developed based on research about student thinking to extend student learning. While Bloom’s Taxonomy focuses on the tasks that students complete to deepen student learning, Webbs’ Depth of Knowledge focuses on the thinking process and not just the product.

depth of knowledge


Differentiation consists of the efforts of teachers to respond to variance among learners in the classroom. When a teacher reaches out to an individual or small group of students to vary the teaching in order to create the best learning experience; this is an example of a teacher differentiating instruction. How will you meet the needs of all your students (variables could include readiness, rate of learning, interest, learning styles, flexible groups, products demonstrating mastery).


The “Assessment” component includes Pre-Assessment Data and Post Assessment.This is where you assess the final outcome of the lesson and to what extent the measurable goal(s) were achieved.

Pre-Assessment: This includes the data collected prior to this lesson that drives instruction. This could include teacher-made tests, DIBELS, progress monitoring, state/district assessments, etc… Pre-assessment data is critical when developing a lesson plan which will meet the needs of all your students. When completing a lesson plan or a Sequential Lesson Plan Unit as a part of a field experience assignment, the mentor teacher should be consulted for direction in terms of specific data literacy to support the lesson plan’s measurable objective(s).

Post-Assessment: Data collected which demonstrates student proficiency and student mastery of measurable lesson objective(s).

Whether the post-assessment is formative or summative, it is an essential part of every lesson and must be included in each lesson plan. Once the students have completed the given assessment activity, (this might be the independent practice) teacher reflection needs to take place. If the learning objectives were not adequately achieved, this would indicate the need to reteach the lesson in a different manner. The Critical Components of Lesson Design template within TaskStream has an Assessment/Rubrics section to include a rubric wizard (created within TaskStream) and/or a teacher created assessment (checklist, developmental scale, answer key, etc.) that may be uploaded from your computer.

Teacher Facilitated Instruction

The Teacher Facilitated Instruction is one of the most important (and lengthy) parts of a lesson where the teacher outlines a detailed, step-by-step set of instructions spanning from the Anticipatory Set through the Instructional Sequence and ending with the Closure of the lesson.
The Instructional Sequence will include evidence of the following components; direct instruction, modeling, guided practice, active engagement strategies, checking for understanding and independent practice. Evidence of each component must be labeled within the step by step instructional sequence section of the lesson plan.

 Anticipatory Set with Purpose (written in narrative form):  The anticipatory set is to grab the students’ attention. The teacher actively engages and motivates the students about the lesson topic through conversation, visuals, read alouds, computer clip, critical thinking questions, etc. The anticipatory set should be relevant to the lesson and link students' prior learning to the current lesson focus. It is important for the teacher to directly state the new concept/skills and/or strategies the students will be learning and how it will apply to their own lives (age appropriate).

Independent Activity:post assessments may occur during this portion of the lesson. Unlike the guided practice, the teacher is not readily available to correct mistakes or assist with activity completion. The purpose of this activity is to help in the retention of the material that was covered and to demonstrate student proficiency. The independent activity can take place before the lesson closure and/or as a homework assignment.

Closure (written in narrative form): This is the culmination of the lesson, or the finale. Revisiting or reflecting on the measurable objectives here will help organize the information into a meaningful context in the students’ minds. Keep in mind that the closure portion of the lesson is not the end point of the skill or subject but a final "check for understanding" used at the end of the class period or before changing subjects. The information gathered during this portion of the lesson will help the teacher plan future instruction.

Links to the example lessons in each area

Early Childhood

Elementary Lesson

Secondary Lesson

Special Education Lesson

Visual Arts Lesson

Sequential Lesson Plan Unit

Lesson sequencing is the process of organizing several lesson plans, focused on one topic of study, which will be taught consecutively. The practice of purposeful lesson sequencing is to create a continuum of learning which builds upon the previously taught lesson (scaffolding) while maximizing optimal learning outcomes. Clear end objectives and sequenced lessons allow teachers to anticipate opportunities for differentiation and assessment check points.  The teacher can scaffold the new concept, skill or strategy, so that students have access to support as they gain new knowledge and meet the lesson’s measurable objectives(s). Creating a sequential lesson plan unit will showcase the teacher’s ability to anticipate the needs of the students while meeting the grade level standards. *Special note: at least one lesson plan within a sequential lesson plan unit, must include a teacher created rubric. 


Rubrics provide a framework for determining student proficiency. Effective rubrics are crafted to assess performance and/or products in a graduated proficiency level format. The criteria and performance-level descriptors in rubrics help students understand what the desired performance/product should encompass. Using a rubric helps teachers to remain objective when assessing student proficiency.