Preparing to Teach

A lesson plan is the instructor’s road map of what students need to learn and how it will be done effectively during the class time. Before you plan your lesson, you will first need to identify the learning objectives for the class meeting. Then, you can design appropriate learning activities and develop strategies to obtain feedback on student learning. A successful lesson plan addresses and integrates these three key components:

  • Objectives for student learning
  • Teaching/learning activities
  • Strategies to check student understanding

Specifying concrete objectives for student learning will help you determine the kinds of teaching and learning activities you will use in class, while those activities will define how you will check whether the learning objectives have been accomplished (see Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. Key Components of Lesson Plan Design (L. Dee Fink, 2005)

Steps for Preparing a Lesson Plan

Below are six steps to guide you when you create your first lesson plans. Each step is accompanied by a set of questions meant to prompt reflection and aid you in designing your teaching and learning activities.

(1) Outline learning objectives Read more »


What does ‘transparency’ mean in a teaching-learning context, and why is it a key principle featured in many CRLT workshops and resources about inclusive teaching? Many different students walking across the University of Michigan campus At its simplest, transparency means clearly communicating with students about course expectations and norms. As outlined below, such transparency can lead to more equitable learning experiences. That’s why transparency is the focus for this year’s Inclusive Teaching @ Michigan May workshop series. (Registration available here; for more details about both transparency and the May series, read on.)

Read more »


Congratulations on your appointment as a Graduate Student Instructor! GSIs play an extremely important role in teaching at the University of Michigan. You are generally in charge of teaching small introductory classes, facilitating discussions in small sections connected to large lecture courses, running laboratory sections, teaching lessons in the studio, and holding office hours where one-to-one teaching occurs. Your responsibilities frequently include grading and giving feedback on students’ written work as well.

Because of your teaching responsibilities, you are in a good position to: Read more »


Adapted by Vilma Mesa and Mary Wright from Angelo & Cross (1993)
University of Michigan

“Classroom assessment helps individual college teachers obtain useful feedback on what, how much, and how well their students are learning. Faculty [and GSIs] can then use this information to refocus their teaching to help students make their learning more efficient and effective” (Angelo & Cross, p. 3).  The selected techniques listed below briefly describe the CAT, the amount of instructor preparation, and the amount of in-class time needed for each assessment. 



Time required

Application cards

After teaching about an important theory, principle, or procedure, ask students to write down at least one real-world application for what they have just learned to determine how well they can transfer their learning.

Prep: Low
In-class time: Low

Approximate analogies


Students walking on campusAs winter term wraps up, many U-M teachers are thinking ahead to their spring and summer courses. When teaching in a short semester with a limited number of class sessions, it's especially important to make good use of the first day. How can you use an initial meeting to do more than review the syllabus and begin to learn students' names?

CRLT provides many resources to help you quickly establish a productive learning environment in your courses. This page provides an overview of resources related to goals you might have for the first day, from building rapport among students to getting them engaged with the course material. You can also click on the links below for great ideas about:

As always, CRLT staff are available to consult with individual instructors about effective teaching strategies before, during, or after your course.