Designer Teaching: The Death of the Lesson Plan


Let’s forget the lesson plan.

As a concept, it doesn’t work. The reasons are manifold.

First, they artificially demarcate learning experiences into predetermined phases of time, outlined by arbitrary durations.

Next, they encourage the kind of frantic, fruitless planning that is resource-heavy but objective-thin.

This is poor design.

It’s taken me a few experiments in planning to realise this and, ironically, it was in attempting to devise a better method of lesson planning that I have designed a highly flexible model of mid-term planning, replete with benefits for students and teachers alike.


Hook – Immersion – Comprehension – Analysis – Creation

LO: To explore themes raised by the text

LO: To understand how the author has attempted to convey their message

Phase Description
Hook/ Launch Use a stimulus to introduce text or themes raised by the text
Immersion Read text, make notes, develop essential questions and subsidiary questions. Introduce contextual points and discuss relevance. (Is it important that…)
Comprehension check Differentiated Blooms-related tasks or Question Time Grid (see below for examples). Can be as rigid or as ‘fun’ as you wish. A list of questions, or exploratory tasks.
Analytical/ inference task… Generate question using P4C model and complete independent essay using PBL protocols
…and/ or creative writing task Create an original piece of writing based on focus text. Teacher should provide scaffolding and prompts for different text types. Can be used to demonstrate skills? Unit plenary?


Originally, I experimented with this (very generic) model as a means of carving out one lesson, but it soon became apparent that there was more potential in this model than I was giving allowance for. Key benefits:


1. Each phase is entirely flexible in duration

In some units I have planned in this way, the hook has lasted 5 minutes. In others, 3 lessons. The beauty of this is that emergent needs can be met by the teacher as is necessary, rather than trying to fit a whole arc of learning into an arbitray duration


2. Resourcing is secondary to objectives

All that resourcing which is usually MISTAKEN for ‘planning’ can be left until necessary, and it has a clear direction. A far better use of teacher energies.


3. You know where you are

I recently underwent an Ofsted inspection during which I didn’t produce a lesson plan, but simply pointed to the phase I was in at that current moment. This gave instant context and a far better insight into my strategic thinking than a Scheme of Work/ lesson plan could ever do. Students can also be shown this plan in advance, with no pressure to detail the ins and outs of their subsequent learning experiences.


4. Flexibility in assessment

Depending on emergent needs/ your own paranoia, you can fit plenaries and assessments into any phase, with as much frequency as you see fit.


Here, for your perusal, are a number of mid-term plans I have sketched using this design.

Dizzee Rascal – London

Phase Description
Hook/ Launch Listen to instrumentals. What is the overall tone? Hook question: Are you at conflict with London?
Immersion Read text with a focal question: How many problems can you identify in these lyrics? Groups to then brainstorm issues. Introduce contextual points and discuss relevance. Or P4C with note-taking?
Comprehension check Differentiated Blooms tasks and/ or Question Time grid. Or sentence work.
Analytical/ inference task… Generate question using P4C model and complete independent essay.
…and/ or creative writing task Write a story based on the ideas and themes raised in Dizzee’s lyricsTurn his song into a formal essay, explaining his subtext in academic language.Write a remixed version of ‘Sittin Here’ based on themes raised by WW1 projectWrite a detailed review of Dizzee’s songs


William Blake – ‘Songs’

Phase Description
Hook/ Launch Quick context from ‘My Name is Mina’; Quick context – what was changing in London?
Immersion Read poems in pairs – what is troubling Blake? What does each poem suggest about London? Class decides on Blake FLIRTS criteria.
Comprehension check Focus on ‘London’ – Differentiated retrieval (can you find?); Close reading practice; Differentiated Blooms tasks based on selection of poems
Analytical/ inference task… Generate question using Pardoe model and complete independent essay (after mini P4C?)
…and/ or creative writing task Write a poem in the style of Blake, using FLIRTS criteria



Can you map out a unit using the same model? Have a go.

Yours, in teaching,

-Unseen Flirtations

Fresh start



4 thoughts on “Designer Teaching: The Death of the Lesson Plan

    • Many thanks. This approach is definitely revolutionising my approach to planning. I’m curious to see how other teachers might adapt. Let me know if you do.

      Will be posting twice weekly (and yep, you can hold me to that!)



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