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Instructional Practices

How to Create a Learning Plan

4 Min Read
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Creating a learning plan rewards both teachers and students by allowing them to accomplish more in the classroom. However, creating a learning plan template doesn’t simply mean customizing a plan to match a specific student — it also means creating a more engaging learning environment that encourages students to be active participants in what they learn. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how to develop an effective learning plan for your students.

7 Steps for Creating a Learning Plan Template

Step 1: Measure and determine what needs to be learned

All of your students need different teaching approaches that will push them to learn more. But before you can determine how to create a learning plan, you need to figure out what your students already know and what they’re proficient at. 

Sound complicated? It really isn’t! The best way to measure how much your students already know is to distribute a simple assessment at the beginning of the term. Ideally, this assessment should cover all the prerequisites for your course: this will give you insight into which topics your students have already mastered.

Step 2: Set achievable goals with your students

After determining what your students need to learn, you can talk with them and help them set several personal learning objectives. Help them think of both the short- and long-term goals that suit their personalities and interests.

For example, some children will ace every assignment you give them, while others may lack interest in your lessons. And there are students that may listen to you carefully and always give their best during the school year, but they may still fail to achieve certain learning goals.

Setting achievable goals is powerful — it motivates students to reach for something they know they’re capable of accomplishing and actually do it. And usually, short-term goals can serve as stepping stones that help students accomplish more important long-term goals.

Step 3: Let students choose how they will learn

I won’t even mention that each of your students is unique — you already know that. But your students also have learning preferences. Developing teaching methods that encompass multiple preferences requires you to be highly creative

For example, some of your students might like videos, illustrations, or labs as an introduction to a new topic. On the other hand, other students may like to take notes on everything you say. Others may prefer listening to your lectures and talking with you to solve problems.

Step 4: Assess frequently, evaluate, and reflect

Frequent assessments leave students with little room to be unproductive or procrastinate. In fact, assessments often keep students motivated and engaged in their own learning. And more importantly, completing assessments as part of achieving short-term goals can boost students’ self-confidence.

Encourage your students to track their own progress and compare it with their previous milestones or accomplishments. Moreover, encourage students to evaluate and reflect on the improvements (if any) that they’ve made.

Step 5: Track progress in a student portfolio

Learning can be described more like a cumulative process than something that happens instantly. When students are able to see how they’ve progressed in acquiring knowledge, it can have a positive effect on their self-esteem. Portfolios give them the opportunity not only to see but also track their learning progress.

Portfolios reveal many details about your students and allow you to glean insight about their interests and aspirations. After a semester passes, ask your students to speak about their achievements. Commend them for their accomplishments, but also be fair and note any areas where they have room for improvement.

For convenience, you can create a portfolio that can be used and updated as needed by both you and your student. Online portfolios are especially convenient to that end; there are various apps you can use to make portfolios on your computer and on the internet.

If you like keeping paper copies, you can store student portfolios in your classroom drawer. That way, you’ll be able to access them at any time. And if students’ parents want to, they can also check in on how their kids are progressing during parent-teacher conferences.

Step 6: Have a one-on-one conversation with each student

After your students have taken time to reflect on what they’ve accomplished, ask them to identify their next learning goals and the steps they’ll need to take to achieve them. Offer help if your students want to redefine their learning goals. Have one-on-one conversations with them, as they’ll likely be more open and relaxed in a private setting where they can’t be judged by their peers.

Provide students with relevant feedback, remind them to pursue their goals, and encourage them when they fail to accomplish any of their plans. Establish good communication with your students. Don’t make decisions for them — instead, guide them in creating individual strategies that lead to their own success in learning.

Notably, repeating this step after students accomplish each of their goals will establish it as a normal part of their learning routine. It will also help them develop important goal-oriented skills and good learning habits.

Step 7: Encourage students to collaborate

Creating personalized student learning plans doesn’t mean your students should stop learning together and focus only on themselves. Encourage students to be the greatest supporters of each other. If one student struggles with a particular goal, others can jump in and lend a helping hand. After all, teaching others is a great way to learn.

Don’t be afraid to collaborate with your students. Often, teachers are students’ biggest role models. Share your personal academic and life experiences with them, as that can help motivate them to achieve their own goals. But also tell them stories about how you learned valuable lessons from the goals that you failed to accomplish — and be sure to note how you turned that failure into success.

Your stories will help your students understand that their personalized learning plans are flexible and can be revised and adapted to their changing learning needs.

Involve Students in Their Own Learning with an Educational Plan

As a teacher, you can do a lot to ensure your students’ success. You can change how things function in your classroom and make learning more effective. And part of that involves developing engaging educational plans that encourage students to set realistic goals and monitor their own progress. If you help your students hold themselves accountable for their learning today, they’ll be more actively engaged in their learning tomorrow.

This article was adapted from a blog post initially developed by the education technology company Classcraft, which was acquired by HMH in 2023. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.

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