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How To Innovate Stale Lesson Plans

March 7, 2018

/ by

Jeff Hersh


All teachers know there are times during the year when they teach lesson plans that feel like they’ve taught a million times. Teachers spin many plates in the air at once. You teach all day, grade constantly, conference with parents, students, and administrators, and work on professional development and researching topics you’ll soon teach. It’s no wonder when a lesson plan works, it stays in the rotation.


When the time comes and you find yourself dusting off this tried and true lesson plan, there are options. Teachers can take these functioning lesson plans and spice them up enough to keep them fresh and engaging.




Finding ways to keep students engaged is always a challenge. Teachers can easily make quick adjustments in the presentation of material, assignments and assessments by connecting them to holidays or seasonal markers. Add questions and prompts that have students connect with the material beyond the classroom. Is Valentine’s Day around the corner? Infuse it into the lesson. Is everyone excited about the World Series? Find ways to add flourishes that celebrate the teams competing. These little adjustments don’t change the function of the lesson plan, but help keep everyone excited.




It’s always a good idea to communicate with other teachers in your department who teach the same lesson. The ways they approach the material can give you new ideas. You might even consider swapping classes for a day or two. This is a great way to keep the students on their toes, but it also allows teachers to fully vet their lesson plan. Maybe the insight the other teacher provides after implementing the lesson plan will lead to suggestions on how to change it up for next year. Walking a mile in another teacher’s lesson plan can help everyone improve. If switching classes isn’t possible, swapping lesson plans is another way to try something new and fresh.




Since you’ve taught the lesson so many times you could do it on auto-drive, why not flip the script and facilitate the lesson by having students teach the lesson. Give students the notes and have them develop ways to present the information to the rest of the class. Have students grade each other’s assignments and finish the lesson with students writing reflection journals on how teaching the lesson helped them learn. This is also a way to study the lesson plan from above and determine ways to tweak and adjust it to maintain a student-centric lesson, or to find other new ways to teach it next time.




Teachers often write reflections after they try new lesson plans to keep a record for themselves on what worked and what needs improvement. When an older lesson plan starts to feel stale, take the time to write a reflection and assess why it feels that way. Maybe it is time to rethink how you teach this topic and invest in redeveloping your lesson plan for next time.


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