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Lesson Plan Spotlight: Elementary Education

If you've talked to anyone in the McKay School, chances are you've heard about lesson plans! As you enter your time in practicum and student teaching, lesson plans become more and more prevalent.

Making lesson plans is so important for several reasons, some of the biggest being:

  • Helps you plan with the end in mind

  • Lessens anxiety and fear about teaching- When you are prepared, you'll feel less nervous

  • Keeps your lessons within the allotted time

  • Helps you stay organized and know what's coming next

  • Keeping lessons aligned with state standards

Below, we've included two lesson plans created (and actually taught!) by student ambassadors. Lesson plans can come in all shapes and sizes, so our representations of them are unique to us! However, we've highlighted key details that are necessary for all lesson plans as well as a reflection on how each lesson plan went. We hope this is helpful to you as you head into your next couple semesters of classes and practicum!

Inquiry Based Lesson Plan: Globes, Maps, and Atlases

Grade: 2

Lesson Type: Introduction

Group Size: Whole Class

Lesson Length: 30 minutes

Standard: Standard 2.G.3, “Demonstrate geography skills on a map and a globe. Compare and contrast the difference between maps and globes.”

Learning Outcome: Students will complete a worksheet in which they compare and contrast an atlas, globe, and relief map with 100% accuracy.

Concept Development / Process: Compare + Contrast, Writing, Understanding of the shape of the world (globe), basic understanding of a map, cooperation


Pre/Assessment: Students will verbally explain what a map is and why it is important

Formative Assessment(s): Students will complete a worksheet that compares/contrasts globes, atlases, and Relief maps and their uses.

Summative Assessment: At the close of the unit, students will take a unit test that covers all they have learned about Earth’s geographic features thus far (including maps, bodies of water, mountains, etc.)

Lesson Components

Introduction / Attitude Orientation (1 minute): Since students are coming in from recess, I will have them take a few deep breaths to calm down. I will tell the students that we are going to be doing a fun activity, but that they need to be good listeners in order to complete it.

Introduction/ Schema Orientation (2 minutes): I will tell the students that we live on the earth. The earth is shaped like a sphere and filled with many different countries (over 200 in fact!).

Introduction/ Activity Orientation (3 minutes): I will tell my students that they are now “explorers” and are traveling to an unknown land. 

I will ask them how they will know where to go if they have never been to that unknown land before (They will most likely say: “use a map!”).

I will then ask “What kind of map” and tell them that this activity will be about exploring different kinds of maps.I will then give instructions about the activity

  • Students will explore three different kinds of maps - a globe, an atlas, and a relief map

  • An atlas will be at each table group, and table groups will be pulled one at a time to examine the globe and relief map

  • Students will write down their observations of each on their worksheet

  • At the very end we will come together and write the answers to the bottom 2 questions.

Inquiry Understanding (15 minutes):

  • Transition students to their desks. 

  • At each desk there will be a “Compare/Contrast” sheet. Each table group will also have an atlas

  • Students will explore the atlas at their table group and write their observations

  • Groups will be pulled by myself and the teacher one at a time to view the globe and relief map (every 3 minutes)

  • Students will write their observations about all of these maps

Response/Follow Up/Discussion (7 minutes):

  • Transition students to the carpet

  • Ask for student feedback about the bottom 2 questions. Take suggestions, but ultimately let students create their own answers

  • A ____ was different from a ___ because….

  • A ____ was similar to a ____ because…

  • Ask students which kind of map they would use if they were an explorer and why

Lesson Closure (2 minutes): Summarize what students learned that day (“Today we learned about different kinds of maps by exploring a globe, atlas, and Relief map”) and why this is important (“This is important because we use maps everyday to help us get places. It is important to know the uses of each one!”) Dismiss students to pack up for the day.

Learner Needs

(names changed)


Ben- Have teacher sit next to him, ensuring that he is on task throughout the whole class period

Annie- Allow student to verbally explain their ideas and work with a teacher to write it down

ELL support: Allow students to verbally explain their ideas, as this may be easier for them than writing it down

Differentiation/Individualization: Ask higher reading/writing students to write their observations in complete sentences

Materials and Resources: 5 atlases, 1 globe, 1 relief map, 22 compare/contrast worksheets

Data Analysis / Reflection

My goal through this lesson was to help students recognize the differences between a globe, atlas, and relief map. Through our formative assessment (the compare/contrast worksheet) I was able to gauge student understanding of the concept. It was clear that all students were able to see the differences between different types of maps. Some students said a globe was “bumpy” while a map is “flat”, while others said the globe was “round plastic” while the map is “flat paper”. Many students recognized that all maps showed familiar states or continents, or had words on it. I feel that the standard was met through my lesson. If I were to do this again, I would provide clearer expectations about the quality and quantity of observations needed by each student. It has been difficult to gauge understanding when all students are recording such a large variation of data.

Classroom Coding Lesson Plan: Geography

Grade: 2nd

Group Size: Whole Class

State Standard: Social Studies standard 3, objective 2

Learning Outcomes: Demonstrate geographic skills on a map and a globe.

Lesson Length: 40-50 minutes



Materials Needed

5-10 minutes

Lesson introduction -

To introduce the lesson, I will review with them a little bit about what a map and a globe is. I will instruct them how to get onto their chromebooks and go to scratch and tell them that if they finish early, they can come up to get a printed picture of a globe and map, and label as much as they can.


Writing Utensil

20-30 minutes

Body of lesson -

Students will get onto their chromebooks and go through the geography scratch lesson and answer all prompts. Within the interactive lesson, they will learn more about different terms related to a globe and a map. They will learn the difference between a map and a globe, as well as be able to label and identify different keywords. 


Pencil and paper

10-15 minutes

Lesson conclusion -

At the conclusion of the lesson I will have all students grab a printout of a map and a globe, and have them label as much as they can. Once students are finished with that, we will have a quick discussion about what they learned to check for understanding.


Writing Utensil

We hope these lesson plans were helpful to you as you prepare to become an educator! Click here to learn more and meet with a student ambassador!

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