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What is a digital lesson plan?

What is a digital lesson plan?

Whether students are learning remotely, through a hybrid model or with blended learning, educators need to plan instruction. A digital lesson plan is similar to one for face-to-face instruction, but it includes strategies for online learning. Digital lesson plans are flexible, easy-to-share and allow learners to thrive in a virtual environment. How do you create an online lesson plan? Here are steps and tips for preparing virtual instruction and activities.

Plan the digital lesson

Teachers should consider these questions when planning a digital lesson: 

  • Why is the topic important for students to learn? 
  • What specifically will students learn? 
  • How will they learn it?

When planning the “how,” teachers need to plan how students will learn in a virtual setting. Will students learn synchronously during a live online session or asynchronously online? Or will they start out in a classroom and move to online activities? 

Teachers should also include the unit, topic, state standards and objectives. They can add ISTE standards as well to show how the lesson incorporates technology to make learning student driven. 

Teachers should then plan how long activities will last, taking into account technology and the virtual setting. Will learners need technology support? Will the activities work smoothly on any device? These questions will factor into the time needed to complete the lesson.

List digital resources 

Next, similar to in-person instruction, teachers should decide which resources they’ll use. In online learning, they’ll want to incorporate digital resources. On the digital lesson plan, they can list links to resources like websites, assessments, digital textbooks, videos, podcasts, articles or games. Hāpara Student Dashboard organizes them for learners by putting digital resources in one spot. 

Decide on grouping for virtual activities

Next, teachers should decide if individual learners or groups will complete activities. On the digital lesson plan, teachers should note if an activity is for:

  • an individual learner
  • pairs
  • small groups
  • whole class

For pairs or small groups, teachers need to think about how they’ll meet in a remote environment. If learning is synchronous, pairs or groups can meet through breakout rooms. If the learning is asynchronous, they can meet virtually on their own or work through a shared document. 

Prepare instructions

Teachers can use traditional lesson plan steps, but they should tailor them to online instruction. 

  • Intro: warm-up, recap of the previous lesson, attention grabber, connection to learners’ lives. For online learning, the intro could be a video, an image, a game or a warm-up question using the online chat function.
  • Teacher modeling: for a digital lesson, this could be a screenshare, live video or a recorded video.
  • Learners try with teacher support: the teacher helps learners during a live online class session. 
  • Learners work on their own: learners work individually, with a partner or a small group. They can do this during a live online class or remotely on their own time.

Teachers can also use the flipped classroom model. They can record a screencast to frontload content and model an activity for learners. Then when they meet together for a synchronous class session, learners work on the activities while the teacher is present. 

Add modifications and adaptations for online learning

Educators should ensure that the virtual learning space is accessible for all learners. Some may need closed-captioning on videos, larger font sizes, both verbal and written instructions or additional time, for example. 

Assess learners virtually

Lastly, a digital lesson plan should include how students will show their learning. Discussion boards or chat features are ways students can show their understanding online. A formative assessment could also include a digital exit ticket, journal entry in a Google Doc or an online quiz. 

They can also create a video, a podcast, a digital poster or virtual presentation as a summative assessment. Students can even build digital learning portfolios and add to them throughout a unit or semester. 

Use digital tools for planning lessons

What digital tools and resources do you use to plan lessons? Teachers can use a Google Doc, Google Sheet, Google Slides or a pre-made online template to build their digital lesson plan. Having the lesson plan ready to go online makes it easy to access anywhere, share with a substitute teacher, send to an administrator or post for learners to view.

Learn what to focus on when building a culture of digital citizenship, including conversation starters for learners and educators!

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