The Teacher’s Survival Kit for Lesson Planning! Tips & 1000s of Free Lesson Plans

Goal 16: Plan An Engaging Lesson of The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators

I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think. – Socrates

Lesson planning is stressful and time-consuming, but is important in giving us an action plan for the entire school year. The way we design our curriculums and the activities we use will determine how successful our learners will be in grasping new knowledge. Lesson design and planning is important. We have our often mandated objectives as the seeds of our curriculum. They act as the vision, goals, and foundation. From the objectives, spring forth activities and ideas. They are the roots of our curriculum. Within the garden of learning is the students’ gained knowledge put into use. We can have very colorful and robust gardens of learning if we plan lessons and activities that support creativity, hands-on and real-world learning. At the same time, I realize that many of us have to ensure students pass tests and achieve learning objectives. The design of our lessons can help us achieve both. However, I realize that many of us lack the time in designing lessons to meet every objective. Luckily, I’ve been connected to 1000s of great educators on social media for the last 3 years and have found various free lesson plans. The idea is we can use some of these great ideas then we will also have the time to design other lessons with enthusiasm versus being burnt out trying to design fantastic lessons for each class. I hope you will find the following tips and resources valuable in the forthcoming school year! The majority of these lesson plans have a focus on teaching language learners because that is my subject area but many of the resources also have lesson plans for various subjects. Tweak to match the needs of your students. Watch the recording of my recent webinar on this topic here!

Lesson Design Tips & Resources for ELT from Shelly Terrell

A Few Tips …

When planning a lesson, I think we need to keep objectives in mind but there are other factors that make up a great lesson. Anthony Gaughin conducted a fantastic webinar on this topic that you can access here. He talks about a GREAT lesson having these elements:

G- group dynamic

R- relevance to learners’ lives and needs

E-emergent language and ideas focus

A- attentiveness

T- thoughtfulness

To this list I would add flexibility. We need to leave room in our lessons for our students to take the learning where it needs to go. Access his slide presentation here to discover more! We can use Anthony’s thoughts as a basis for designing lessons that engage students.


Some of us will need a framework from which to build our lessons. Some of us need more structure, while others can map out our ideas. As an experienced teacher, I prefer less framework and I like to map out my lesson. The problem with relying too much on a structured lesson is that it leaves no room for flexibility. However, I could appreciate learning to structure lessons and design them to a tee in order to build confidence and learn what I should prepare for mentally.

Structured Templates:

Another idea:

Map our your lesson plan in a mindmap

More Lesson Planning Tips:

1000s of Free Lesson Plans

Here are a few places to find free lesson plans to teach English in any subject or to any age level! You can also access these in my PearlTree of Bookmarked Sites. The PearlTree will be updated regularly as I come across more lesson plan databases.

Lesson Plan Sites for Other Subject Areas

Bookmarked Resources

Every Friday I conduct a Free Webinar thanks to American TESOL. Please check the Livebinder for times, video archives, and more.


Try any of these lesson plans this year and tell us how it went.