University of Minnesota Duluth

Outdoor/Environmental Education



The following is an outline designed to guide you in developing lesson plans. The lesson plan is an effective tool used to enhance your instruction. Please approach it as a tool rather than a burden.  Think of it as a road map to guide the journey!


I. Title—Name it!

Be creative, draw the reader in!


II. Goals—The big why!

Goals are the general rationale or purpose of what you want to teach.  Goals speak to the broad outcome of a lesson.

Example: “This lesson will encourage sensory awareness toward natural objects.”


III. Objectives—The specific why!

Objectives are the measurable and observable outcomes of your lesson. They are the specific reason/s the lesson is created/used.

Example: From this lesson, students will be able to:

a)      Describe five different natural objects.

b)      Describe their awareness clearly in a brief essay.

c)      Describe a different object using each of the human senses.


IV. Audience identified—Your students.

a)      Age group

b)      Affiliation, e.g. Boy Scout troop, recreation undergrads, grade 5 class, etc.

c)      Number


V. Duration—Time involved.

a)      How long is the lesson?  (preparation included)

b)      How long will it take to get to the site? (travel time)

c)      How long will it take to follow up the field experience or lab experience?


VI. Location—Where?

a)      Where will the lesson be taught?

b)      How will you get there?


VII. ContentThe substance of your presentation.

This is a major portion of your lesson plan.  Think of the content as the background; the content is the information that serves as the foundation of the lesson…the what!


Include the information that is readily usable for your presentation (background), the information you want to impart to the students.  Content is identifying the factual knowledge or relevant background. This information must be organized into a usable form for you, the presenter. Further, include additional background information designed to support other educators preparing to use this lesson.


VIII. Methods/ProcedureHow you will teach your lesson!

The method is the teaching approach/instructional strategy that will be used in order to reach the objectives…the how!


Describe the methods that will be used to present the information and facilitate the experience, ultimately to work toward achievement of the objectives.  The lesson’s methods are a blending of the content into a conceptual plan so that the receiver can make sense of it. That is, learning through integrating content with personal meaning and building on past experiences.  For example, if you are teaching tree identification, explain how you will teach tree identification and describe the specific activities that might be a part of this (games, role-play, experimentation, demonstration, observation, reflection…). 


In addition to the methodology, provide specific directions of procedure to accomplish the planned lesson…Step 1, step 2…part a, part b…This specific step-by-step is the procedure.


A peer educator should be able to pick up your lesson plan, understand your content and be able to follow your procedural steps to successfully present the lesson.


IX. Management and Safety

Depending upon your audience, you will need to consider different things for management of the group and prevention of injuries.

a)      How will you manage the group (keeping the group together, rules, discipline, supervision,)

b)      What are potential risks at the site you are using with the activities you are conducting?  How will you minimize the student’s exposure to the risks?


X. Equipment—What you need!

a)      What equipment or materials will be needed?

b)      List each specific item and quantity.


XI. What is a weather alternative?

How can you adjust if the weather conditions do not match your plans?


XII. Evaluation—Assessing learning.

Provide a specific plan for assessing learning.  The plan may be a test, a group discussion, a rubric, a product completed for the student portfolio, demonstration of ability, a game, etc.  Be deliberate about how the learning will be assessed, your tool should help you address the following questions:

a)      How do you know that the lesson was successful?

b)      Were your objectives met?

c)      How were you successful as an instructor?


XII. Follow up—What’s next? 

Each lesson should link to the next lesson of a deliberate sequence (scope and sequence) within a broader context.  This is especially important for all formal and non-formal educators – lessons are rarely stand-alone, without a connection to other learning.

a)      What is the next lesson?

b)      How will you prepare your students for the next lesson?


XIV. Reference—Materials to support your lesson.

a)      Lesson plans must have some reference source that supports your content.  The reference must be valid (books, journals).  Unless a person is recognized in their field as a leading expert, people are not necessarily valid resources (i.e. the camp director at Camp Kookamunga may not really teach proper canoe stroke technique, even though he is the main instructor at the camp).  Be wary of web resources.

b)      Provide any source information and cite it properly!

c)      List at least 3 references for additional information.


XV. Standards

As you develop your instructional skills and progress into a variety of formal and non-formal learning environments you need to be aware of existing professional educational standards.  This awareness will allow you to connect your lesson/s to a broader scope and sequence.  You will notice that many curriculum guides highlight connections to state or national standards; this professionalism is a reminder of two key points:


  1. Nonformal educators often work closely to support efforts of the formal education setting.
  2. Nonformal educators have a responsibility to understand the standards relevant to their educational setting.