When creating a lesson plan, always keep the destination in mind: a learning outcome. At the end of the day, where do you want your students to end up? What do you want them to know or be able to do? If you are planning an activity, how does it help you achieve the objective(s) of your lesson plan? How does it connect to the larger course goals?
Taking the full breadth of the semester into account, you will find a hierarchy of destinations. The larger, overall course goals being fed by smaller Chapter, Section, or Unit objectives which, in turn, are being fed by even smaller individual lesson plan objectives: the building blocks.
Make these building blocks strong. Added together, the objectives in each of your lesson plans carry the weight of the entire course. They must be specific, stated with precision, built upon the previous, and directed toward the next. Everything must dovetail. Here are the three main considerations:
A Word about Activities: These are journeys, not destinations. The end results—the learning outcomes—are destinations. Ideally, a learning activity should move your students along a learning path toward a measurable learning outcome—the objective established in your lesson plan.
NOTE: For a more comprehensive guide about creating lesson plans, please see Creating Lesson Plans, a TILT Teaching Guide.