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Preparing the Lesson Plan

It is important to stress that prior to putting pen to paper to develop a lesson plan, you read the pages preceding this section. If you are not an educator by profession, the beginning of this document is critical to your success as an instructor. The previous pages were written to help you consider and decide how to best present your course material based on the psychology of learning. If you skipped that section and jumped in here to begin developing your lesson plan, you have decided to sell both yourself and your potential students short! Take the time to read the beginning of this document so you can be the best possible instructor for your students. The investment in time is small in comparison to the pay back once you reach the classroom podium and see all those faces staring at you.

“Finally,” you say, We get to the reason you started reading this document in the first place - to learn how to write a “lesson plan.” But to attempt to write a lesson plan without planning would be a classic example of “getting the cart before the horse.” First you must:

Research the Topic

Is an instructor expected to be a research scientist or a specialist? Not exactly. Instructional research is getting all available materials on the subject together and reading or looking at it for relevant information. All supporting material and training aids must be checked for accuracy and usefulness. Are they current and up to date? Just ask yourself, “will this help the student meet the training objective(s)?”

Is a “war story” by an instructor appropriate? Yes, provided it isn’t too long, it relates to the training objective, or it supports a teaching point. You know the old saying - “If the military wanted you to be a paid entertainer, they would have assigned you to “Recreational Services!” Your job is to teach your training objectives, not amuse the students. They won’t be very amused when they find out they can’t answer questions on the material you were “supposed” to cover in your class.

Writing Objectives

Second, you must consider what your course objective(s) will be. Objectives are the cornerstone, the base of the entire instructional pyramid. Presenting them to your students is the most important part of your introduction. Since they are important, let us take a close look at how they are made.

The objectives are your “contract” with your students. They say what you and they are going to accomplish. Like any other contract, objectives should be clear, honest, complete, and unquestionably correct!

A training objective must state the task to be done, the conditions under which behavior will take place and be observed, and the standards the behavior should meet. A complete objective will contain a Task, a Condition, and a Standard.

Description of Performance (TASK).

The first requirement is that the objective contain an action verb that describes doing something that can be seen and measured. Passive words such as the following do not possess a common, single meaning and are capable of different interpretations:

"Comprehend, know, contemplate, fully understand, remember, perceive, grasp significance of, have faith in, believe in, be aware of, decide, recognize, appreciate, enjoy, experience, have a feeling for, consider, examine"

These are legitimate goals, perhaps, but they are “fuzzies.” How does an instructor see the action the student is taking when demonstrating that he can “appreciate,” “have faith in,” etc? Further, the student does not know just what he has to do. Do not use these words to describe the task the student must perform.

The following action words say what the student must do; they can be good action verbs for a training objective:

"inventory, overhaul, measure, calculate, recover, test, solve, write, list, operate, construct, disassemble, detect, name, adjust, identify, define, assemble, explain, install, maintain, locate, remove, calibrate, replace, authenticate, rewire, troubleshoot, repair, build"

Determine the most accurate action possible. “Explain” is not as accurate as “explain in writing.” The point is that both you and the student must agree on what you are going to have him do.

Conditions Under Which The Behavior Is To Be Observed. The objective will contain the conditions under which action will take place. The student deserves to know what he will be given, or not given, to do the task. The question to be asked is, “Do the conditions affect task performance? Do they affect the type and amount of training.” Generally the types of conditions to be considered are as follows:

Job aids, handbooks, instructions, pre-printed forms, other written documents. The student should be told what he will be given in order to complete the task. The action verb “to write,” it is not necessary to state “given pencil and paper.”

Standards The Students Must Meet. The last part of the complete objective is the standard of performance. This is what a student must accomplish before the instructor can be satisfied that he has learned the task. Seldom is it necessary for a course of instruction to teach to mastery level. Mastery of a skill or knowledge often requires too much time. The student is taught how to do the task but he must practice on the job to be good at it. It will not usually be necessary or reasonable to expect the student to perform without error just to pass a course. Usually, it will be possible to expect a student to solve a certain percentage of problems, complete 9 out of 10 parts of a form, or meet specific accuracy standards, or to do things within a certain amount of time. These criteria (speed, accuracy, quantity) are often the standards. They tell the student how well and how fast he must complete the task. This should be presented to the students as part of the training objective(s).

Examples of training objectives that contain all of the elements of a clear, explicit training objective are:

Given the draft of a 100 word letter and a format guideYou will type a letterThe letter must contain no errors and be completed within 30 minutes
Given a simulated patient, oral thermometer, and a watchYou must measure the patient’s temperatureTo within plus or minus 0.4 degrees of actual temperature within five minutes
During daylight in unfamiliar terrain, with the aid of a watchYou will locate northPlus or minus 7 degrees east or west within one hour

To summarize this complicated topic, the objectives for a training environment must contain:

  1. A condition statement which informs the student of what will be provided, or denied, and the physical environment if that is appropriate.
  2. A task statement that describes the action the student will perform.
  3. A standard that states how well and how fast the task must be performed.

As a side note, please do not feel that the objective must be written in the order of condition, task and then standard like the examples above show. As long as you have all three elements (task, condition and standard) present in the objective, you can begin with either task or standard too. Order is not important here!


The lesson plan is made up of several main sections, they are:

  • Introduction
  • Explanation/Demonstration/Application
  • Evaluation

The first section of the lesson plan is the Introduction. The Introduction is usually numbered paragraph 1. It contains the reason for the training, class objective(s) and procedures.

The second section of the lesson plan is (often called the body of the lesson plan) the Explanation, Demonstration, and Application portion of your training. This is the section where you will have all your teaching information. This section is usually numbered paragraph 2. It contains the information you plan to explain to your students, any demonstrations on how to do a task, and time for the student application of what you explained and demonstrated. NOTE: If you find your topic to be lengthy...over eight hours, you might want to consider making the Application portion of the lesson plan a separate paragraph numbered 3. If this is the case, remember to number the evaluation section paragraph 4.

The last section of your lesson plan is Evaluation. Evaluation is usually numbered paragraph 3. (See above note for exception). The evaluation section contains that portion of the lesson that allows you to evaluate your students understanding of what you just taught. This is good for both the student and instructor. You get feedback on how well you did your job teaching, and the student gets feedback on whether he absorbed class information and could apply it.

There must be 9,000 ways to do a lesson plan. The samples included here can be used in at least 10 different formats. The point here is, this is a means to an end. The best constructed lesson plan on paper will not make you a great instructor, will not make the students learn or even like your class. There is a whole lot more to being a good instructor then your lesson plan format. Please do not get wrapped around a lesson plan format. This is merely your roadmap to disseminate information, ensure you cover everything, and do it within your allotted time frame. What follows is a good guide to use for a lesson plan. But you need to make this work for you and a tool you want to use.

To list a few purposes of a lesson plan:

  • Plans what will be taught and the order of disseminated information.
  • Records what will be taught so that a back-up instructor can disseminate the same information in your absence.
  • Consistency of information disseminated from class to class.
  • Allows for planning of the class length.
  • Allows for revisions based on student evaluation. If it is not written down how do you know what to revise?


We are going to start at the beginning, or paragraph 1 of the lesson plan. This discussion will focus on the Introduction section of the lesson plan. Remember, you will get one chance to make a good first impression with your students. Really give the introduction section of your lesson plan some thought and consideration.

Being an instructor depends first upon the view you have of your students as you face them from the front of the classroom. It also depends upon many other things. First, what do you see? Do you see formless, faceless blobs? If yes, than you are not an instructor. You are at best a dispenser of information. The Navy has other means of presenting information: text, manuals, handbooks, audio tapes, and interactive media, which may be even more efficient at this than you can be.

Are you focusing on the faces of your students, and in particular on their eyes? Perhaps then, you have a bit of a beginning contact that will grow with your further efforts, into individuals capable of doing a job they could not do before your class. You will note that each face is different. You are in contact with individuals. They come from the complete range of backgrounds, races, intelligence, family lives, education, and physical characteristics that our nation produces. Many people think of schools as buildings, classrooms, parks, equipment, books, and training aids....hopefully attractive, comfortable, antiseptic, and in perfect working condition. A school, or class, is people: instructors and students. A school, or class, is a society; for us a military society. You, the instructor, are the second most important member of that society (the first being the students). Your effectiveness will depend on your knowledge, talent, and effort in doing what an instructor must do. Your beginning in “heating up the iron” is the introduction to your lessons. A well-planned introduction is your first step toward good instruction. Instruction begins somewhere; by definition, the introduction should have been your beginning. Give yourself the best start you can by designing an introduction that includes; (1) reason/motivation; (2) objective; and (3) a procedures paragraph.


Some students may impress you as being like the proverbial mule; they must first be hit between the eyes with a 2 by 4 to gain their attention. Despite the exaggeration of this example, the fact is that you must begin somewhere. The student must begin his learning somewhere. Your beginning will be the reason. Do your best to give yourself the best start that you can invent. The opening statements and actions designed by the instructor can be more important for him than for the students. First impressions can be quite influential and lasting.

The reason lets you focus the attention of the class upon the subject matter. It also lets you gain all-important contact and rapport with the class. This you must maintain throughout the lesson, the instructional block, or, perhaps the entire course. The class should view you as confident, competent, knowledgeable, professional, and definitely concerned and sincere. Your reason helps give that view.

Many instructional tools and methods are available to you in this effort to begin well. We won’t list all the possibilities here. Let’s just look at a few.

Electronic slides, video tapes, audio quotations, music, chalkboard, charts, models, games, mockups, and actual equipment can be used here. The rules are that the message must be understandable, quick, sharp and relevant. It must not present subject matter that the students know nothing about or cannot grasp. You do not want to spend a lot of time here orienting your students. The medium must contain its own message.

Students will learn because they want to learn. Students who do not want to learn, or refuse to learn, will not. You do not possess a hypodermic syringe filled with knowledge that you can inject into them against their will. The mythical bottle of “learning pills” is not perfected yet. There are no clear answers as to what you must do to motivate a particular class to learn a specific subject , under specific conditions, and to specific standards. All of these variables, and the most variable thing can be the needs of the students in the class. Who are they? Where are they going? What is their job? There are some generalizations that can be made about motivation. The more you learn about your class, the more effective you will be in causing the students to want to learn.

First, we know something about what we mean by motivation. We know that it is part of a person. We know that it will exist to fulfill one or more of his personal needs. We say that it is an internal driving force that causes a person to do something (physically, mentally, or both) to move toward a goal. He will have this drive as he feels this need and clearly perceives the goal.

The needs of the spirit are those most often receiving the instructor’s attention. Guiding students to the fulfillment of their needs is certainly one of the instructor’s greatest rewards. Sometimes the student will not truly recognize these needs. Therefore the instructor must make the needs clear. He does this by convincing the students of the importance and truth of the material to be learned.

The relationship between the job and the subject matter must be clear, detailed, and specific. The reason’s must be honest, sincere and accurate. The students must be appealed to personally, or as members of a critical team. Everything available to the instructor for getting attention is also available for giving motivation.

Motivation for most students should be positive. Negative motivation is supplied by such elements as: “You will be held responsible for all of this material on the exam.” “Forty percent of our students have failed this one!” “Our attrition rate is currently 25 percent. That means approximately one out of four of you won’t be around when the course is over!” Avoid this type of motivation. They’ll find out anyway, if it is true. Your job is to help them avoid failing, not to help fail them.


The objective as its formally written will be placed in this section of the lesson plan. Write, or if you prefer, rewrite the objective so that it can be presented in a conversational manner. The objective in the lesson plan will still contain the task, condition and standard, but written for the spoken word. Even if you should elect to hand the students a written copy of the objective, please, please, make sure you verbally tell the class the objective(s) when you begin the introduction of your lesson plan.


You must inform your students of the methods of instruction you will use. For example, if you are going to conduct the early part of the class as a platform presentation, followed by a demonstration that is in an interactive media format, followed by student team exercise, then it will mentally set your classroom stage. Inform the students just how the class will be organized, conducted and how it will progress.

Sample Introduction Paragraph

1. INTRODUCTION (5 minutes)

  1. Reason. Tomorrow the class is going to the field. Today, to prepare you for the land navigation course, we will discuss and practice resection. Tomorrow you will be required to perform this task in the field.
  2. Training Objective. Given 1/50,000 map, coordinate scale and protractor, pencil, and magnetic azimuths to two terrain features identified on the map, you must determine the location of the unknown point using resection. The 6 digit coordinate of the unknown point must be + or - 100 meters of actual location and must be determined within 7 minutes.
  3. Procedures. During this class I will demonstrate resection with the aid of the overhead projector and VGT’s. You will complete two practical exercises and be tested next week on the land navigation test. LESSON PLAN BODY

The body of the lesson is the most difficult and by far the most time consuming portion of the lesson plan to develop. Before you can confidently develop this section, you need to know:

  • What your going to teach. What is your exact topic.
  • Extensive research on your topic. Become an expert before you get to the podium.
  • Know time frame availability for the training. Without this information, you cannot determine level of detail.
  • Who is your target population? Level of instruction must be geared to the learning population.
  • What instructional method(s) will you be using in this class?
  • How will you organize your subject material?
  • Is media a consideration?

There is a lot to be researched prior to beginning this section of the lesson plan. Please read the rest of this document for helpful information to plan for writing the body of the lesson plan.

Lesson Plan Paragraph Format

Paragraphs are used to distinguish main points or concepts from each other. Subparagraphs are used to divide main concepts into component parts. The paragraphing system incorporates a series of numbers, letters, and symbols to distinguish main paragraphs and various levels of subparagraphs from each other. Notes, cautions, questions and answers can be inserted as needed.

Note: The word “paragraph” is used to mean spacing. You will probably find that your Main and Subparagraph information will be no more than a few words in length. The lesson plan is a guide, not a manuscript. Do not write it so that you find yourself reading from it.

Sample Paragraph Format

	Notes.	1. (if applicable)

	a.  Major Subparagraph Heading.

		(1)  Subparagraph heading
			(a)  Subparagraph heading
			(b)  Subparagraph heading

		(2)  Subparagraph heading

	b.  Major Subparagraph Head

		(1)  Subparagraph heading

		Note. (if applicable)



Sample Lesson Plan Body


    Notes:  1.  Require students to perform each step immediately
                after it is demonstrated.

            2.  Ensure students keep weapons pointed downrange at
                all times.

        a.  Fundamentals and Positions of Pistol Marksmanship.

        (1)  Fundamentals.

             (a)  Hand/eye coordination.
             (b)  Grips.
             (c)  Trigger control.

        (2)  Positions.

             (a)  Relaxed position.
             (b)  Ready position.

        b.  Procedures of Immediate Action.

        (1)  Recock hammer and attempt to fire.  Wait ten seconds if
             weapon fails to fire.

        Caution.  Ensure that the thumb of firing hand is NOT placed
        to the rear of the slide when RECOCKING weapon.

        (2)  Eject round and chamber a new one.

        (3)  Attempt to fire.

        Note:  Raise hand for assistance if weapon still fails
               to fire.

Question:  How long must you wait prior to ejecting the round
after the second attempt to fire that round?

Answer:  Ten seconds.


In our situation, an instructor rarely formally tests students during a lesson. However, the instructor must have some way of determining whether the student leaves the class with the knowledge presented. This is done through non-graded evaluation/student exercises.

The evaluation paragraph of the lesson plan is a set of directions to the instructor telling him how to conduct the evaluation. The evaluation is the final section of the lesson plan. It will specify what the instructor must do before, during and after the evaluation.

The Purpose Of Student Evaluation. If it is worth teaching, it is worth testing! If you ask a student why tests are given, the majority will say “So the instructor can give us grades.” The majority of instructors would answer that question in the very same way....sad but true! Assigning grades is but one tiny purpose of student evaluation. The most important part of student evaluation is to provide some kind of system for quality control. There are two sides to this system. First is to monitor student achievement of objectives so that the instructor can determine learning took place. Second is to identify problem areas in the lesson material presented to students and determine the reasons for the problem so it can be fixed.

Secondary Evaluation Functions:

  • Lets you know if you were successful teaching your objectives.
  • Allows you to make decisions about the instructional methods and/or materials.
  • Judging student progress.
  • Facilitating student learning.

Please remember, there are some students who will mentally escape during your class if they know there will be no evaluation of learning. No evaluation, means the student does not have to take responsibility for learning/comprehending the information you will be presenting. Think this aspect over very carefully before you decide not to evaluate student learning at the end of your class.

Did you know that using evaluation situations in your classes will aid student learning? There is a lot of evidence that evaluation is one of the best ways to increase student learning. A course or class evaluation is a chance for the student to do what he has been taught. Research shows that some kind of evaluation increases learning and remembering, if evaluations are directly related to objectives.

Sample Evaluation Paragraph

3.  EVALUATION  (30 minutes)

    Notes. 1.  Small group instructor is to inform students of
               requirement to disassemble and assemble cal .45 pistol.

           2.  Observe student during task.

           3.  Assist student only if necessary.

           4.  Return equipment to original condition after
               assistance is given and require student to redo
               the work in the area in which he was assisted.

           5.  Evaluate student performance.


This is the last portion of the lesson plan you will develop....it is called the Cover Page. You are probably wondering why we do the cover page after the lesson plan is completed, when in fact it is placed on top of the lesson plan. The items contained on the cover page cannot be determined until after the lesson plan content has been researched and constructed. This way, you only have to write the cover page once. What is a cover page? It is a vital part of any lesson plan. It is the one place an instructor will look to see what he needs for the class he is about to teach.

The cover page of the lesson plan contains several items of essential information as identified below. If any item does not apply to a particular unit of instruction, the heading is listed and is followed by the word “None.“

Instructional Unit. List Name of Subject to be presented.

Primary and Secondary Instructor Names. Need the names of the primary and back-up instructor in case you are TDY or sick.

Type. Which Methods of instruction will be used: Lecture, demonstration, case study, practical exercise, etc., or combination of these.

Time. Length of presentation in minutes.

Required Training Aids. What training aids will be required for your presentation?

Handouts. List title of all your handouts.

Objective. List the specific things students are to learn during your presentation.

Purpose. Tell the students why they should find this topic useful to them on the job. In other words, why is this topic important to them? Create a need to know.

Tie-in. How does this tie in to the big picture? How will this information help them on-the-job.

Source: U.S. Navy

Copyright ©2000-2015 Geigle Safety Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Federal copyright prohibits unauthorized reproduction by any means without permission. Students may reproduce materials for personal study. Disclaimer: This material is for training purposes only to inform the reader of occupational safety and health best practices and general compliance requirement and is not a substitute for provisions of the OSH Act of 1970 or any governmental regulatory agency. CertiSafety is a division of Geigle Safety Group, Inc., and is not connected or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).