Lesson Planning Gagné Style

image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

As teachers we prepare lesson plans for many reasons. We do it because it helps us keep track of our lesson delivery and also because it is required of us. The latter one, however, can make us lose sight of its true purpose, which is to help our students achieve the learning outcomes of the lesson. Through my many years of teaching, I have learned that lesson planning is most useful when I put myself in my students’ shoes.

Effective Lesson Planning

Let’s face it. For a lesson plan to be effective, it needs to focus on what students need to demonstrate at the end on the lesson. Lesson planning is about meeting learning outcomes for our students; the objective of the lesson is not for us to deliver content or for administration to see that we spent hours on prep-time (Yes, we do!), but for us to think of ways for our students to demonstrate learning.

So what’s the best lesson plan? Certainly it’s the one that works for the students. Lately, I have been doing it Gagné style.

Gagné Style

Lesson planning Gagné style is a nine step process spearheaded by cognitive psychologist Robert Gagné, who created it while helping to train the US military during WWII. His work yielded a nine-step lesson delivery that makes use of the learners’ ability to assimilate information through verbal information, intellectual skills, cognitive strategies, motor skills and attitudes. Pedagogically, it means that we as teachers need to deliver this nine step process (whether it be face to face, online or hybrid) by taking into consideration what Gagné referred to as the five conditions of learning: signal learning, stimulus–response learning, chaining, verbal association, discrimination learning, concept learning/formation, rule learning/application and problem solving. In other words, teachers need to create lesson that include: demonstration, checking for understanding, guided practice, making connections from concrete to abstract, and allowing time for application so students can work on finding solutions and demonstrate the learning outcomes.

Gagné’s Nine Events of Learning

1.      Gain attention of learners – This could include a meaningful warm-up activity that is connected to the lesson.

2.      Inform learners of learning objectives by listing the lesson activities and outcomes.

3.      Stimulate recall of prior learning – We know this as schemata. Asking a question relevant to the topic fits here nicely.

4.      Present content – Think about introducing one activity at a time. A reading, for example, should be broken down into chunks that demonstrate effective reading strategies.

5.      Provide “learning guidance” – Sometimes we forget to model the activity. A think-aloud guided task could be a way to let students “see” how the task is performed.

6.      Elicit performance – This includes giving opportunities for students to work individually or in groups to demonstrate the lesson learning outcomes.

7.      Provide feedback to learners – Without feedback, students do not know what they did well or what needs improvement – notice ‘doing well’ comes first!

8.      Assess students’ performance – This task is ongoing. The type of assessment will depend on the exposure students have had with content. It could be formative, summative or diagnostic in nature.

9.      Enhance knowledge retention and transfer to real-life, authentic work – The learning has to have real world application. We can’t say that students keep making the same mistakes and think that only they are accountable. It could also mean we need to rethink all the steps. We need to reflect and try again.

What’s your lesson planning philosophy? What’s your style?

Robert Mills Gagné. (2015, January 7). HLWIKI Canada, . Retrieved 22:15, April 20, 2016 from http://hlwiki.slais.ubc.ca/index.php?title=Robert_Mills_Gagn%C3%A9&oldid=138340.



Hi, my name is Cecilia. I love taking part in good brain awakening discussions. Blogging, I find, lends itself for that. I also believe in sharing my skills through scholarly practice, which is why I write regularly and have presented at several conferences, including TESL Ontario, TESL Toronto, CALL, and at Seneca College. My M.A. in applied linguistics along with my skills and experience have led me to my current position at Centennial College, where I teach English and ESL in the School of Advancement. I'm truly passionate about what I do: teaching, writing, creative expression, and helping my students (both L1 and L2) gain agency and take control of their own learning. Thank you for your readership and I look forward to reading and answering your comments. You can find me on Twitter @capontedehanna


6 thoughts on “Lesson Planning Gagné Style”

  1. I agree that I plan my best lessons when I try to put myself in the learners’ shoes. I teach ESL literacy half the day, and this is the group for whom I find it most important to do this. I try to maintain a good “perceived pace,” changing activities about every 20 minutes. Of course we are always working our way toward being able to achieve a real-world task–both throughout the day and week–with less and less scaffolding as we make our way toward the free practice. Within that framework, though, I try never to plan two very sedentary activities back to back. If one activity is quite taxing mentally, the next one is a game. If the last 20 minutes found us sitting and writing, the next one has us up on our feet swatting at a scattering of sight words with flyswatters. This keeps the students very engaged, and there is no glancing at the clock.

  2. When I first saw this post, I incorrectly read the title as “Lesson Planning Gangnam style”. I clicked on the link, as I was certainly curious! Once I started reading it, I realized my mistake.

  3. I think this post is a great reminder when trying to plan lessons. I find that it leaves a lot of opportunity to engage students in the lesson and make them interested in what they are learning. This is very important when planning learner-centred instruction! I loved how you included the modeling. It is also important to guide our students and set them up for success and to be able to achieve the outcomes using the skills that they have learned.

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