Lesson Planning

Student Learning, TA Guides

Having a well-developed lesson plan can make all the difference in the success of your tutorial, discussion section, lab, or other facilitated TA responsibility. Follow the steps below to ensure that students are learning what you intend.


Step 1

Determine your intended learning outcome(s) (ILOs)

What do you want students to learn by the end of your teaching session? Here is an example:

By the end of the tutorial, you will appropriately recognize the value of taking a cultural relativistic approach to ethnocentric statements, as demonstrated through in-class discussion, activities, and reflective writing.

 As you can see from the intended learning outcome (ILO) example above, writing a succinct and complete ILO provides you with a clear idea of what needs to be accomplished during your tutorial (or discussion or lab) time. Next you plan the complete session.


Step 2

One of the best lesson planning formats available is referred to as BOPPPS

It stands for Bridge, Outcomes, Pre-assessment, Participatory learning, Post-assessment, and Summary. BOPPPS represents all of the necessary components for a lesson and suggests the order in which they should appear.


Students arrive in your tutorial with many other thoughts on their minds. It is important to help students situate themselves in your classroom so that they can begin learning. A Bridge helps gain students’ attention, build motivation to learn, and can take many different forms. It should always be related to the lesson topic. Some examples include an image or cartoon, video clip, music, questions, a story, or some quiet reflective thinking time so that students’ can focus on the topic and gather their thoughts.


After the Bridge, share the intended learning outcome with students. This lets students know exactly what they will be achieving during the lab, tutorial, or discussion time.


Before embarking on the lesson, find out what students already know about the topic. Sometimes the Bridge and Pre-assessment can be combined, meaning you can ask students at the very beginning what they know about the topic.

When doing this, it is best to ask students to do Think-Pair-Share; ask them to think for one minute about the question and write some ideas down if they want. They then pair up with another person and discuss the question for about two or three minutes. Lastly, you bring the whole class together and ask pairs to share with the larger group what they discussed. This type of activity helps learners recall prior knowledge, gain confidence in what they know about the topic, and gives you information on the baseline knowledge in the classroom. In this way you can ensure that you aim the lesson at the appropriate level. Other pre-assessment options include: a short quiz, survey, iClicker polling, Zoom poll, collaborative whiteboard, or other diagnostic activity.

Participatory learning

Most tutorials, labs, or discussion sessions have student participation built in. Despite having plans for students to participate, this does not always occur. It is important that students are participating because that is how learning is best achieved.

So how do you best plan? Keeping your ILO in mind, ensure that you have well-structured activities and back-up activities if needed. If students were required to do a reading before class, then set the standard in the very first class. You might state: that students will be required to write a short quiz at the beginning about the reading; that they will have to answer questions in small groups and hand in a report; or some other activity that firmly relays the message that students must participate before and during class. Some activities you can plan include: Think-Pair-Share, games where students compete against each other, small group work like a jigsaw activity, or completing a set of questions, problems to work through, and case studies.


Before you dismiss the class, ensure that your intended learning outcome was achieved. Plan on having students reflect on what they learned in class (Moon, 2006) or give them a short low-stakes information recall quiz. The important thing is to find out if everyone achieved the ILO.

Sometimes instructors will ask the whole class but only hear from one or two students, which does not represent everyone. Post-assessments can also be known as Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs). There are many ways to assess whether learning occurred. Some examples include: one minute paper, the muddiest point, lists, questions students still have about the topic, and application cards. Try to think of different ways to assess learning at the end of the lesson.


It is important to summarize what students learned at the end and connect that learning to what is coming next. By summarizing, students get a sense of accomplishment and reinforce the key points of the lesson.

The BOPPPS model provides a structure to plan each lesson. You can use this model for any length of lesson or build several BOPPPS into a longer session.

  1. Angelo, T., & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  2. Moon, J. (2006). Learning journals: A handbook for reflective practice and professional development (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
  3. Queen’s University Teaching Support Centre. (n.d.). BOPPPS model for lesson planning. Implementing Active Learning. https://www.queensu.ca/teachingandlearning/modules/active/18_boppps_model_for_lesson_planning.html

This guide was developed by Dr. Cynthia Korpan (LTSI) and updated during the Teaching Assistant Consultants’ (TACs) seminars in 2020-2021.

About this post

This post was last updated:

August 11, 2022

We acknowledge and respect the Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees and Esquimalt) Peoples on whose territory the university stands, and the Lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ Peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.

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