The Teacher’s Survival Kit for Lesson Planning! Tips & 1000s of Free Lesson Plans

Goal 16: Plan An Engaging Lesson of The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators

 I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think. – Socrates

Lesson planning is stressful and time-consuming, but is important in giving us an action plan for the entire school year. The way we design our curriculums and the activities we use will determine how successful our learners will be in grasping new knowledge. Lesson design and planning is important. We have our often mandated objectives as the seeds of our curriculum. They act as the vision, goals, and foundation. From the objectives, spring forth activities and ideas. They are the roots of our curriculum. Within the garden of learning is the students’ gained knowledge put into use. We can have very colorful and robust gardens of learning if we plan lessons and activities that support creativity, hands-on and real-world learning. At the same time, I realize that many of us have to ensure students pass tests and achieve learning objectives. The design of our lessons can help us achieve both. However, I realize that many of us lack the time in designing lessons to meet every objective. Luckily, I’ve been connected to 1000s of great educators on social media for the last 3 years and have found various free lesson plans. The idea is we can use some of these great ideas then we will also have the time to design other lessons with enthusiasm versus being burnt out trying to design fantastic lessons for each class. I hope you will find the following tips and resources valuable in the forthcoming school year!  The majority of these lesson plans have a focus on teaching language learners because that is my subject area but many of the resources also have lesson plans for various subjects. Tweak to match the needs of your students. Watch the recording of my recent webinar on this topic here!

A Few Tips …

When planning a lesson, I think we need to keep objectives in mind but there are other factors that make up a great lesson. Anthony Gaughin conducted a fantastic webinar on this topic that you can access here. He talks about a GREAT lesson having these elements:

G- group dynamic

R- relevance to learners’ lives and needs

E-emergent language and ideas focus

A- attentiveness

T- thoughtfulness

To this list I would add flexibility. We need to leave room in our lessons for our students to take the learning where it needs to go. Access his slide presentation here to discover more! We can use Anthony’s thoughts as a basis for designing lessons that engage students.


Some of us will need a framework from which to build our lessons. Some of us need more structure, while others can map out our ideas. As an experienced teacher, I prefer less framework and I like to map out my lesson. The problem with relying too much on a structured lesson is that it leaves no room for flexibility. However, I could appreciate learning to structure lessons and design them to a tee in order to build confidence and learn what I should prepare for mentally.

Structured Templates:

Another idea:

Map our your lesson plan in a mindmap

More Lesson Planning Tips:

1000s of Free Lesson Plans

Here are a few places to find free lesson plans to teach English in any subject or to any age level! You can also access these in my PearlTree of Bookmarked Sites. The PearlTree will be updated regularly as I come across more lesson plan databases.

Lesson Plan Sites for Other Subject Areas

Bookmarked Resources

Lesson Plan Resources ELT and Teach Meet International Online 2012 in Shelly Sanchez Terrell (shellyterrell)
Every Friday I conduct a Free Webinar thanks to American TESOL. Please check the Livebinder for times, video archives, and more.

The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators

As part of The 30 Goals Challenge I would like to inspire you to accomplish these goals:

Short-term- Design at least one lesson plan differently than you have in the past. Incorporate Anthony’s ideas and don’t spend tons of time planning. Instead, focus on jotting your ideas down in a mindmap or in a way that leaves room for your students to take the learning where they want to go. Eventually, you’ll get used to not planning every minute of your lesson and you will find you have much more free time!

Long-term- Make it a habit to map out lessons versus spending tons of time on the template and details of the lesson. Reflect on how implementing these changes helps you grow as an educator. Also, note the impact on your students.

Important News

  • Lisa Dabbs and I have decided to change the hashtag to #30GoalsEdu.
  • This year we are focusing on 1 to 2 goals a week in order to have time to really reflect on the tasks and respond to each other’s posts and enhance our support system for each other.
  • Check out my Pinterests for other posts with this goal or ask me to add yours!

Did you reflect on this goal? Please leave a comment that you accomplished this goal by either posting your own video reflection on Youtube, using the hashtag #30GoalsEDU, posting on the 30 Goals Facebook group, adding a post to the GooglePlus page, or adding a comment below!

Be inspired with these Inspirational songs, videos, quotes, and more on my Pinterest board, Inspiration for World Changers!


Try any of these lesson plans this year and tell us how it went.

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My Favourite Sites for Teaching Phrasal Verbs by Janet Bianchini

Part of the Cool Sites series

An Xtranormal Kind of Introduction

Teaching phrasal verbs is my favourite activity of all!  Why is this so?  Well, in my experience, I have found that students generally don’t like studying them because they find them “too difficult, miss!”  I set out from elementary level to train my students not to be afraid of them, but to look forward to showing off their newly acquired knowledge of them. To stand out from the crowd. To use phrasals in a natural way.  In the correct context.  How do I do this?  I will explain.

I encourage them to chill out during the lessons if I see they look a bit stressed out.  I ask them to come up with ways of using new phrasals both in class and outside of class.  I encourage them to ask each other this question as a natural starter “Have you come across this word?  Do you know what it means?”,  if for example, they don’t know the meaning of a word.  Instead of asking me all the time, students are encouraged to ask each other first, always using this phrasal verb until it becomes instinctive for them and of course, second nature.  On a Monday morning my first question is inevitably “What did you get up to over the weekend?”  Students then ask each other in pairs and dialogue ensues following this prompt.  Another question would be “Did you get through the weekend homework?” I make sure that these questions are all in context and provide opportunities for practice.


Below is an example of a Powerpoint presentation converted to Slideshare. I have created this in order to maximise opportunities for student discussion. This would either be used as an introduction to this set of verbs, or as a review and recycling activity.  I have introduced 18 phrasal verbs with some follow-up activities at the end. I have experimented with whole pictures as background for added interest.


Bookr by Pim Pam Pum is a nice tool for exploiting images to enhance your  phrasal verbs lessons.  You can easily create a “book” in minutes by selecting pictures, according to the theme you want to explore, and then simply dragging them into the pages of the book. You can write a short sentence on each page.  The example below is one I created especially for this post to demonstrate how it can be used.


This is a great site for dialogue exploitation. The animations are easy to create with a set group of characters. There is a choice of background music which adds to the special effects. There is no sound for the characters.


This is another cool site for creating animations. Go!Animate can be used by students to recycle phrasal verbs learned or indeed, any item of vocabulary that needs to be reviewed. Getting Down to Phrasals by Janet Bianchini

Create your own at

The ZimmerTwins

I registered on the ZimmerTwins site for the purpose of researching for this post.  I was surprised at how intuitive and easy it was to create my very first animation.  I have a feeling that students will love this tool!

Phrasals in the Jungle!

Have a look at Phrasals in the Jungle!


I love ToonDo because it’s easy to create cartoons for any topic you like.  Students enjoy creating small dialogues or comic strips.  Here’s one I created which has a phrasal verbs theme.  The cartoons can be easily embedded into your class / student blogs or posted via email.

A Dilemma
Create your own Toon!


The last on my list of favourite e-tools to make teaching and learning phrasal verbs fun is PhotoPeach.  I was able to create a simple quiz using my own photos. You have to select a synonym  out of the 3 options given for the verb in the picture.  I hope you enjoy it!

Test your Phrasals! on PhotoPeach


I hope I have inspired you to use some of these cool sites with your students. You can adapt them to suit whatever theme you are working with. Why don’t you try one of these out for your next class? I am sure your students would enjoy creating short animations and dialogues or short books or indeed quizzes to test each other on new vocabulary or structures they have learned with you.

Have you had experience with any of these tools? If so, I would love to hear from you to learn how you and your class got on with them!


smalljanetjoeypicI would like to thank Shelly for giving me this wonderful opportunity to write for her Cool Sites series. It’s a great honour for me to be here.

Janet Bianchini (@janetbianchini) has been an EFL teacher for over three decades.  She still loves teaching and she is enjoying the challenge of learning more about new technologies and how to integrate them into her lessons. She writes a blog called Janet’s Abruzzo Edublog.  When she is not writing, studying or teaching, she loves to spend time in her rather wild garden with her menagerie in tow.

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My Favourite Tools by Alexandra Francisco

Part of the Cool Sites weekly series!

Like most of us, I have only just recently (about a year ago) began to use web2.0 tools in my classes. It wasn’t easy at first. There is a myriad of tools at our disposal and new ones keep emerging at such speed that it’s enough to make your head spin. So, when I choose a tool to use I always try to think of what my students can get out of it, how tool A is more beneficial to them instead of tools B, C or D. I have tried quite a number of tools and I’m sure I’ll try many more, but at the moment my personal favourites are:

English Central – I love this site, because it allows my students to practice their speaking/reading skills, providing them with immediate feedback. HERE you can check the sort of assignment I give them.

Glogster – I guess this is already an old favourite of many of us. My students love the possibility of putting text, images, audio and video together in one place. HERE are some glogs they created.

Animoto – Simply brilliant! You upload your photos (and now even short videos!), add some text and music, let Animoto work its magic and you’re given back a wonderful video that you can post anywhere. No fuss, no muss! HERE are some examples.

GoAnimate – The possibilities are endless. From digital storytelling to book reports or simple vocabulary practice, you think it and GoAnimate will bring it to life! HERE are some of my students’ animations.

MyStudiyo – Great tool to easily create multimedia quizzes. I usually get my students to create the quizzes themselves and then use an interactive board to get the whole class to try out the quizzes. HERE is one.

Vocaroo – I use it  to give my students extra practice on their reading and speaking skills. They record themselves as many times as they want and then just post or e-mail me their recordings. Here are some examples.

VoiceThread – A recent favourite. Great tool for collaborative projects and to provide students with their own niche where they can practice and interact. HERE is my first project.

Last, but not least – Livetyping – It allows me to witness my students’ writing process, showing me what they corrected and rearranged before submitting their final text.  HERE are some examples.

So here you have it, my favourite tools. Am Looking forward to reading about yours! ;-)

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Shelly for giving me the honour to contribute for her Cool Sites series, and also to express my sincere gratitude for all that she does for all of us.



Alexandra Francisco is an EFL teacher in Madeira, Portugal. She has been teaching for 15 years at the secondary level and has only recently began to be involved in the teacher training area, providing short (25 hours long) workshops on the use of web2.0 tools in EFL classes.

You can follow her web2.0 experiences at her tech blog: ZarcoEnglish – Tool of the day. You may also check her assignments blog and her students’ showcase.

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Cool “Collaborative” Sites by Özge Karaoğlu

Collaboration has become the key concept to learn and engage ourselves through web. Web tools offer us the opportunity to collaborate and learn from each other; so this week, I would like to share my top collaborative tools for Shelly’s Cool Sites Series.

Palbee_logoPalbee is a free online service that allows you to set up online video meetings with your friends or colleagues. You also have a whiteboard and it lets you draw, write texts, highlight or erase using different tools. Wetoku is similar to Palbee though you can set video meeting with one person, you can consider Wetoku as an easy interview tool.

sub_logo_newSpringnote is a web notebook service based on a wiki. You can create your own personal notebook or you can collaborate with others using group notebooks. You can create pages, share links and your bookmarks or share your files. Webnote and Writeboard are similar tools to take notes on net and share and make changes together. We have used Writeboard with Shelly while creating our proposal for IATEFL this year, it really worked!!

20090510095922-wallwisher-logoWallwisher is an online and collaborative notice board maker. You can make announcements, lists, share your bookmarks with others or create together. You can add pictures, videos or give links. You can write anything you want to write on post-its and you can do more than that. Have a look at Nik Peachey’s Wallwisher as a great collaboration example.Stixy is a similar tool. You can try it too.

header CoSketch lets you visualize and share your ideas as images using a whiteboard with others. You can upload pictures and draw on it, add shapes, you can draw at the same time with others and you can save your sketch as an image to embed it to your blog. DabbleBoard can be considered as a similar site. It’s another collaboration tool based on a whiteboard.

WiggioLogoWiggio is an online toolkit that lets you work in groups easily. You can send emails, text messages,voice mails. It makes it easy to share files and polls. You can set video conferences and also keep shared calendar, keep track of group’s tasks and resources.

logo_mindmeisterMindmeister is an online collaborative mind mapping tool that you can brainstorm with others real-time. You can create your own mind map on a award winning interface or share your mind maps with your friends or collaborate with others to create a collaborative one. Here is a good example with many other collaborative tools that you can use.

I hope you enjoy all the tools! And don’t forget to check Shelly’s cool sites every week.


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5 Cool Sites

Every week, I share my favorite finds in this weekly series! Test these tools out. If you want instant access to these fantastic websites connect with me on Google reader!

Cutting Edge Technology Wiki

David Kapuler has created an amazing wiki dedicated to various Web 2.0 technologies. The wiki provides information on various tools, such as nings, blogs, and PLNs (personal learning networks). Below is one of the resources I discovered on the website, a video about PLNs. My favorite part of the wiki is that David has included his 6 free e-books that are amazing resources of various technologies.

Google Image Swirl

Google does it again with Image Swirl, a search engine for locating various images. Below is an example of what the image results were for my favorite artist, Marc Chagall, but really you have to try it out. The search engine is easy to use and highly visual. For more information read David Kapuler’s review and Richard Byrne’s review.

Picture 8

100 Twitter Tools for Students

Accredited Online Colleges has created a list of 100 Twitter tutorials and tools. The resources are geared towards students but can easily be used by educators new to Twitter. Categories include finding people, research, study breaks, discussions, building relationships, careers, and more.

Elearning & Web 2.0 Tools

Mindomono is a new mindmapping tool that has incredible features, such as embedding, adding images, adding links, and more! My favorite is the E-learning and Web 2.0 Tools mindmap created by Jesper Isaksson.

Language Links Library

Find over 100 fantastic links for learning languages at the CALL4ALL website. Categories include lists of text to speech sites, language podcasts, language learning blogs, language learning software, and more! There are various finds for teachers and students learning English or any other language.

Even More Cool Links

  • For a list of cool websites, check out Ozge Karaoglu’s series, Faves of the Week!


Leave a comment below of a way you could use one of these tools or websites in the classroom!

You may want to subscribe for free to receive regular updates, leave a quick comment of how one of these tools helped you, tweet this, or share this series with your Personal Learning Network (PLN) through your RSS reader or Delicious account.

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