Free Math Plan Template

Teachers should view lesson and unit plans as “educational treasure maps” designed to lead students to a specified point.  Far too often, unfortunately, these plans are viewed with disdain and contempt.  To help, the Stride Professional Development Center has a short template for math that can offer assistance. 

Be sure to go to our Free Resource page and download the lesson plan template – it is the 14th free resource in the course. Yes, that’s right!  We currently have 14 freebies and will continue to grow that list for your benefit.

Why do we suggest downloading?  Having that document open in one tab while reading the blog will help you follow along.  You could even print a copy to make your own reflective notes on it as the blog continues.  How you use it does not matter as much as that you use it!

Before we get started, make sure you see that initial quote in the top left corner – “A goal without a plan is just a wish…”  We hope these ideas help you create intentional and purposeful plans that lead students to the buried treasure within the mathematics content area.

The first major section has the “normally expected” items including standards and objectives; however, we add in two additional parts:

  • Big Idea:  you, as the teacher, should be able to summarize the lesson and its alignment to the standards or objectives in 2-3 sentences.  If you cannot narrow it down for yourself, then it will be too scattered for your students to grasp.  Consider this the “so what” for your students.  
  • Assessment:  normally, you see assessments towards the end of a plan, but we have it at the beginning.  That choice is to make sure the assessment strategy is also aligned to the standards and objectives.

The lesson Launch is the initial activity that engages the students and hooks them into the lesson or unit that you have designed for them.  We often think this must be content-specific but that is not always the case.  Here is a simple, yet personal example that could launch into a solving equations math lesson and:

  • Example:  While walking around the mall with his family, an extremely shy 13 year old wanted to do something special for his family by buying each a hot dog.  He had $10 in his wallet but was afraid to order because the menu shared both a cash and credit price.  Instead of ordering, the teenager simply got out of line and walked away.  He was unsure if he had enough money and did not want to be embarrassed in front of strangers.
  • After sharing this story, the teacher would ask questions to help the students process through the story.  Here are some sample questions:  (1) Have you ever been in a similar situation and, if so, how did you act?  (2) Why do you think this teen chose as he did?  (3) What other decisions could the teen have implemented?  (4)  How could math provide more information to the teenager?  (5) Which details do you not have that you need to perform calculations?

The lesson Task will take some thought as it includes the majority of the lesson plan.  This is where you get specific about details and procedures; however, you should also draft an open-ended question that the students will investigate.  Why?  Creating this type of question offers a guiding light to your students when they may be uncertain as to the next step to take.  If, however, you continually reference them back to the question, then they can self-direct.  The most important part of this section is the right column because you to transition your role to map-maker.  Remember, this plan creates a guide for them to follow both in this lesson/unit but also for a lifetime as they grow and develop in your class.  

Nearing the end of the plan, you find the Debrief section where students are stepping back a bit from the deep-level learning process.  This does not mean that students become passive at all.  Instead, they transition more from a “doing” mode (e.g., think computation or calculation) into a “thinking” phase (e.g., how can that be used in other applications) to reflect on the learning process thus far.  This phase is especially important to see what gaps remain that should be addressed in subsequent lessons or sessions.  

The Closing section is where you, as the teacher, bring it all together.  Through questioning, you can see what gaps remain and unanswered questions that need clarification.  This aspect is vital as you clearly reveal how the lesson, big idea, and objectives all come together.  If they why has been less obvious before, then it becomes explicit here.  The lesson must be paced appropriately and guarded specifically so that the bell does not ring unexpectedly meaning that this portion of the lesson is lost as students race to their next class.

The final section – Practice – is the most important.  Although this section is the last of the template, the aspects of it would be used much earlier.  It is at the end to force you to pause and think through every level of student in your class and how to adjust the plan to match their learning needs during the lesson along with the necessary remediation afterwards. Differentiation is a critical component of effective instruction and 

The power of planning is within you – the content expert who knows their students needs and can masterfully adapt the material to bring them success.  Admittedly, no plan is absolutely perfect nor will it work for every student; however, we hope this simple plan can help you think through and improve your own lesson or unit planning process for students.


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