Lesson plan and lesson note are both important tools used by teachers to organize and deliver effective classroom instruction. However, they serve different purposes and have distinct characteristics. A lesson plan is simply a teacher’s document drafted to be a plan, step or methodology to be employed by the teacher in the course of teaching. A lesson note on the other hand is a detailed content of the lesson had by the teacher and which is given to students for internalization, revision and further studies. It also extends to notes taken by the students during lessons.
The differences between lesson plan and lesson note lies on the disparity in their structure, purpose and content.
Lesson plan and lesson note generally requires no particular format; however, their contents must be well structured and logical. In most cases, there are usually prescribed format for a lesson plan to comply with, but this is not so in a lesson note as long as there is quality in its content and they are logical.
A lesson plan should provide step by step description on how a teacher is going to handle a particular topic or subject. In a lesson plan is contained; name of the subject, topic, date, objectives, content, and other methods to be employed by a teacher for the purpose of a particular lesson. A lesson plan also provides for the timescale within which the lesson is to be delivered.
A lesson plan need not be written down in some cases; it could be a plan had in mind by the teacher, but at all times, a lesson note must be written down. It could be an already made not given by the teacher to the students before or after the lesson, or it could be individual ones made by the students during the course of the learning.
A lesson plan must be drafted in line with the recommended and approved syllabus. A lesson plan may require an approval by the relevant authorities before it is implemented. On the other hand, inasmuch as the lesson note should to an extent, conform with and reflect the approved syllabus, the content need not be confined to it. Informative contents which are outside the approved syllabus can be included in a lesson note. A lesson note could just be made up of any insightful content alluded to by the teacher in the course of teaching.
A lesson plan is to be prepared, submitted and approved by the relevant authority even before the teaching commences, whereas a lesson note could be made at any time whether before, during or after the lesson. Therefore, lesson plan is a prerequisite to lesson note and even the actual lesson.
Purpose and Attributes
The direct purpose of drafting a lesson plan differs from that of a lesson note, even though both practices are generally for academic enhancement. The purpose of drafting a lesson plan is to establish the direction of which an academic lesson would take. The practice of drafting and implementation of lesson plan promotes an organized learning atmosphere.
The purpose of a lesson plan is therefore more concerned with the whole class than it is concerned with the teacher, since the students are at the receptive end while the lesson plan merely guides the teacher on how to drive the wheels of the class. Also in the other sense of it, lesson plan squarely concerns the teacher. It is a systematic teaching guide drafted either by the teacher on approval of the authorities or by the authorities, to be complied with by the teacher while teaching the students.
On the other hand, a lesson note may concern both the teacher and the students. A teacher necessarily should have a lesson note, as well as the students. The school is particularly interested in the lesson plan and most times would interfere, but such interference is not particularly anticipated for lesson notes except if policy, ethics and standards demands so.
In fact, lesson plan belongs to the school; hence the need for school approval before it is implemented. Some schools may choose to draft the lesson plan by themselves by constituting formal authorities for that purpose, and then hand over the outcome to the teacher. On the other hand, although a teacher’s lesson note may be subjected to checks for adequacy, depending on school policies, it is the teacher’s individual equipment which contains the curriculum and additional information that may be needed by the teacher for the purpose of imparting knowledge on the students.
The content of a lesson plan is always not detailed; it is the snippet of a proposed lesson and the structure which it would take. A lesson plan contains the topics to be treated, the manner by which the topics would be taught, practical exercises to be performed if any, aims and objectives of the topics and exercises, expectations from the students after the discourse, practical questions, and other systematic propositions for the teaching and learning of the subject.
It is in the lesson plan that the course outline or scheme of work of the particular subject to be taught is provided and structured. On the other hand, the content of a lesson note is usually more detailed than that of a lesson plan. Lesson note deals extensively with the topics highlighted in the lesson plan.
The teacher’s lesson note need not always be comprehensive. On the side of a lesson note, it plays more of a substantive role. It is in the lesson note that the substances of a lesson plan are brought to life. While lesson plan is more concerned with the whole class, lesson note is concerned with the individual. The content of a lesson plan is effected and implemented in the classroom whereas making of lesson notes by either the teacher or students is subject to the teacher and the pupils on individual basis.
The content of a lesson plan also extends to the resources to be used in the course of the lesson, the activities to be performed, and any other information relevant to the lesson. A practical description is that a lesson plan shows the topics being taught or to be taught, the purpose of teaching a particular topic, the fundamental knowledge needed to be acquired from the topic upon its completion, and the end point intended to be accomplished by the end of the lesson.
A lesson plan also contains the mode to be employed by the teacher for the assessment of the students before and after teaching. It may warrant that the level of the students’ exposure in respect of a particular topic be evaluated before the topic is taught. The lesson plan envisages such situation and includes the mode to be employed for this exercise. On the other hand, a lesson note does not envisage that the students could have had some exposure in respect of the topic to be taught. Therefore it is contained with as much informative details as required for the purpose of understanding the topics.
Lesson note and lesson plan are complementary to each other. Both practices are very necessary and efficacious in the teaching and learning process. Some are of the view that lesson notes can as well be a marshaled out summary points drafted for the purpose of teaching. This too does not defeat the distinctions. The differences between the two terms have been discussed in this article in three convenient headings.