August 12, 2020

How to Write a Digital Lesson Plan: A Guide for Educators Teaching Online

GoGuardian Team
A teacher works on a laptop at home, writing notes in a notebook


More and more teachers have shifted to distance learning. In many jurisdictions, the physical classroom is out and learning is now taking place online. The need to understand how to write a digital lesson plan is greater than ever before. Luckily, we have a guide for educators teaching online.

In this article, we will outline questions teachers should ask themselves when creating a digital lesson plan. We will also explain the key components of a digital lesson plan (with examples). In addition, we provide information on online lesson plan preparation, digital lesson planning for effective classroom management, and additional digital lesson plan ideas and inspiration.

Questions to Ask Yourself

You may be wondering how to digital lesson plan. Digital lesson planning is a necessary first step in implementing curriculum themes. Creating a lesson plan online with clearly defined learning objectives, goals, and a metric for measuring progress toward these goals is vital to ensuring students benefit as much as possible from your digital lessons.

Ask questions of yourself that pertain to the structure and benefits of your online lessons, as well as the needs of your students. Some things to ask when creating your digital lesson plan are as follows:

  • What is the goal/learning objective of this lesson?
  • What materials are necessary to teach this lesson effectively?
  • What types of activities will best help my students learn this lesson?
  • Which group sizes are best for each activity and will best aid students in their learning processes?

Consider your class’s collective and individual learning styles and needs. Are your students more responsive to finding their own research texts than the textbooks and websites you provide? You may have many hands-on learners who need physical activities to help them process information. It can be difficult to facilitate this type of learning online, but it can be done.

Be mindful of any special needs or barriers students may have that will require additional assistance to allow them to participate in online activities and lessons. Your digital lesson plan should also be clearly written, concise, and easy to follow and implement.

By writing online lesson plans in this manner, you’ll be able to provide a road map for any substitute teachers to follow in your absence.

Key Components of a Digital Lesson Plan with Examples

Your online lesson plan should include the following:

An Objective or Statement of Learning Goals

Objectives are the foundation of your digital lesson plan. They should be clearly stated and should outline which skills, knowledge, or understanding students are expected to gain as a result of the lesson (ex: “At the end of this lesson, students will be able to observe and identify all 50 United States.”)

Be mindful that your objectives are realistic, measurable, and in compliance with the educational standards of your school and/or district for your grade level.

Materials Required

Make a list of all necessary materials, and ensure they are available well in advance of the lesson. This may include digital textbooks, PDFs, or other online learning resources. Be sure to have digital copies of materials readily available to provide to students.

Include any links or media that are necessary for your lesson. Ensure your sites are bookmarked and playlists are compiled in advance.

The Procedure and Instructions

Create detailed notes on both the process for the digital lesson or activity and on how instructions are to be given. Maybe there is certain information you don’t want students to be told upfront, but you want them to discover it throughout the course of the lesson.

Your online lesson plan template should be detailed enough that anyone who reads it will have all the same information and ability to effectively teach the lesson.

Group Sizes for Lessons and Activities

It is best to use a mix of groupings for the activities within your lessons, including individuals, pairs, small groups, and whole-class work. You can utilize chat and video services to facilitate this for online lessons.

When planning your activities, contemplate which groupings will work best for each activity or if students will have the option of choosing which group sizes work best for them.

A Method of Assessing Student Progress Toward Objectives

How will you determine if your digital lesson plan accomplished its goal of achieving learning objectives? In your online lesson plan, detail your process for assessment (oral quiz, written quiz, project, etc.) and get feedback on what worked and didn’t work for students.

Determine what values will be used to define your lesson’s success (ex: students are able to display knowledge comprehension in line with the learning objective 80 percent of the time).

To extend learning, follow up on your lesson with any relevant homework assignments. Completing homework can help students extend their learning.

Online Lesson Plan Preparation

Aim to have digital lesson plans completed no later than the Thursday prior to their implementation. Allow time to observe progress toward the current week’s objectives, and determine if extending the lesson into next week is necessary.

Some schools and districts require the use of lesson planning books and templates for creating lesson plans. If yours doesn’t, you can create your own online lesson plan template or download one from a website. With some guidance and practice, you’ll be on your way to learning how to make a lesson plan of your own.

Digital Lesson Planning for Effective Classroom Management

Digital lesson planning plays a huge role in providing students with a stable online classroom environment that best supports their learning. No matter the age group, students respond best to predictable routines in which they are involved and aware of the process and are able to anticipate what comes next.

During unstable times, students look toward the routine of school to keep them on track. Post your lesson plans in multiple visible places online where students, substitutes, and parents can all see them and easily stay caught up on your curriculum.

A digital lesson plan for teachers that takes into account students’ learning styles and interests goes a long way to promoting student engagement and involvement. Encourage your students to give feedback on lessons, either throughout the week or at the end of a completed lesson, and take note of which elements brought out the best and worst responses.

Looking for Additional Digital Lesson Plan Ideas and Inspiration?

Like any skill, creating a good digital lesson plan format gets easier the more you do it. It might start off seeming like an intimidating feat, but if you’re consistent after a while, you find your rhythm. The most important part of the process is to always be considering the needs of your class, and that includes you as a teacher.

Creativity in lesson planning is important, but stay mindful of your budget and time restrictions, and don’t overextend yourself.


Creating a digital lesson plan is a challenging endeavor, but teachers are up for the challenge. A solid online lesson plan template keeps students on track.

In this article, we outlined questions that teachers should ask themselves when creating a digital lesson plan. We also explained the key components of a digital lesson plan with examples. Lastly, we provided information on online lesson plan preparation, digital lesson planning for effective classroom management, and additional digital lesson plan ideas and inspiration.

Read more about lesson planning or visit our distance learning resource center for additional support in creating your digital classroom.