In one line: This post with keywords: Differences-lesson-plan-lesson-note differentiates between Lesson Plan and Lesson Note in a very simple and easy to understand way.

Introduction to the Difference between Lesson Plan and Lesson Note

Since I published How to write standard Lesson Notes in Nigeria, I have received lots of emails. While the emails are a mix of commendations and appreciations, quite a number are questions and suggestions. And one of the most commonly asked questions is the difference Lesson Plan and Lesson Note. Foremost, I thank you, the readers and especially those that emailed or commented on the earlier posts.

Below is the answer to this particular question – the difference between Lesson Plan and Lesson Note. As usual, I took my time to make it as comprehensive as possible while still being kept concise. I hope it meets your need once again.

To start with, what is the meaning of both Lesson Plan and Lesson Note?

Lesson Plan and Lesson Note are of the closest relatives after the like of Muhammadu Buhari and Aisha Buhari (husband and wife) only that their surname comes first unlike the Buhari’s.

The major difference in the meaning of the two terms lays their second names – plan and note. Consequently, let’s begin with the meaning of both terms – what is a plan and what is a note as used in this context? – trying to put two kernels in mouth at once huh?

What is (Lesson) Plan?

(Wiktionary) in one definition states that a plan is a drawing showing technical details … with unwanted details omitted, and often using symbols rather than detailed  drawing. Similarly in the second part, (Wiktionary) defines a plan as a set of intended actions, usually mutually related, through which one expects to achieve a goal.

These two definitions of plan are not different from those of other dictionaries including Webster, Cambridge and Oxford. All of the definitions contain the meaning of a plan both as a drawing and as intended course of action to an end.

Hence, taken together, a plan (in the context of lesson) is a drawing of the steps/actions through which a teacher expects to deliver a lesson in order to attain the objectives of the lesson. Also being a technical document, a Lesson Plan does not contain unwanted details even though such may be important.

What is Lesson Note?

On the other hand, a note as used in the context of Lesson Note is a brief piece of writing intended to assist the memory (Oxford Dictionary). In this sense, a note is also an explanation or an extra piece of information that is given at the bottom, at the back of a book, e.t.c. (Cambridge Dictionary).

From the definition, it is obvious that Lesson Note is the explanation of one, some or all of the steps outlined in a Lesson Plan.

Drawing the Differences between Lesson Plan and Lesson Note

1.     Semantically

The difference in the meanings of Lesson Plan and Lesson Note is that while Lesson Plan contains the breakdown of the lesson in steps after a careful study of the topic, Lesson Note is mostly the explanation of the step (s) after critical thinking.

Take for instance, the first term and Week 1 Lesson Note on Basic Science for Primary 2. The third step in delivering the lesson is listing things in a classroom. Then the note is: “Having explained the meaning of classroom, the teacher asks the pupils to look around the class and mention the things they could see”. Afterwards, if there are not enough things in the class, the teacher displays the video/pictures of classrooms again and asks the pupils to identify the objects they could see in it. The teacher writes each object on the board as it is mentioned.

From this instance, you should note that ordinarily, how the teacher goes about listing the things in a classroom is not necessarily a content of the Lesson Plan, save perhaps for the actual list although it is important for the teacher.

Lesson Note may also refer to the explanatory note which is given to students to copy into their notes so as to help them remember what the teacher taught them – i.e. the board summary. In this sense, you often should find students saying, “I’ve copied the note” or something similar with reference to note.

Similarly, Lesson Note may mean the reminder by a teacher (the author of the Lesson Plan) to guide a substitute teacher on what s/he is to do or cover. Or it may mean an assessment information after delivery (evaluation) to remind a teacher (who delivered the lesson) the areas to revisit or improve upon subsequently. Isn’t this point clear enough? I hope it is.

But… is that all the difference between Lesson Plan and Lesson Note?

Of course not, there is still a little more to it. One of such is:

2.     Technicality

Generally, Lesson Plan is more technical than Lesson Note. A well-written Lesson Plan incorporates educational theories. More so, Lesson Plan follows principles in instructional design. This is to say that to an extent, only one who understands the technicality of a lesson is able to write a very good Lesson Plan – although any willing person can learn such technical details easily. Finally on the technicality of Lesson Plan apart from Lesson Note, Lesson Plan must contain some key components – click here to see the key components of standard Lesson Plan.

All these are quite unlike Lesson Note. Lesson Note does not necessarily incorporate any educational theory neither does it follow any instructional design principle. It is an ordinary note that can be understood by any person. More so, Lesson Note does not contain any standard component.

3.     Format of Writing

Being a technical document, Lesson Plan is formal – an office requirement. And as with most office documents, Lesson Plan follows a particular format. This format is relative to the school. In other words, the format of Lesson Plan varies from school to school and one location to another. In fact, the format of Lesson Plan may depend on the subject. While some schools do not recommend a particular format, others prefer Lesson Plan in a tabular form and a few, the conventional essay format.

In contrast, Lesson Note is usually in essay format except when written alongside, and as explanation of the presentation steps of Lesson Plan.

4.     Formality

Lesson Plan is always a formal document. It is a requirement for teachers to write Lesson Plans as preparation for classes.  Generally, schools also require their teachers to submit such plan periodically – some weekly while others Termly i.e. prior to the commencement of the term.

On the contrary, Lesson Note being only a reminder to the teacher; is usually not required to be submitted to the school authority. This is of course not when Lesson Note is used in reference to the explanatory note which is given to students  – to copy into their notes. In this sense, subject teachers normally call for students’ notes for marking.

In summary, the differences between lesson plan and lesson note are:

  • A Lesson plan is a drawing of the steps/actions through which a teacher expects to deliver a lesson in order to attain the objectives of the lesson without unwanted details while lesson note is the detailed explanation of the steps/actions or a reminder of what a teacher should do.
  • Lesson plans incorporates educational theories and follows instructional design principles but lesson note does follow instructional design principles though the explanation of the steps may incorporate one or more educational theories.
  • Lesson plan has standard components but lesson note does not except when written together with lesson plan.
  • Lesson plan have more than one format but lesson note is usually in essay format.
  • Lesson plan is an official school record so it is submitted for periodic markings but lesson note is normally not submitted except when written together with lesson plan.

So, there you have it – the differences between lesson plan and lesson note.

But, why is lesson plan usually confused for lesson note or vice versa?

Well, the simple answer to this question is stated as follow. Somehow, some teachers and schools prefer to combine both in a single book while writing. Hence, the book comes to be called either of the terms interchangeably.

Were you a class captain in your school days? Do you remember your teacher telling you to copy the note from here to here but not to copy what’s up and below? Yes, that’s because such teacher combined the plan with the note.

Nonetheless, nowadays most schools and teachers are going back to strictly writing lesson plan – without extra details. This necessitates differentiating between the terms.

Last line:

This post tried to differentiate between lesson plan and lesson note. I hope it meets your need. If you think it worthwhile, please do share the post with someone who may find it helpful.

Finally, our weekly lesson guides for teachers are more appropriately lesson note because it combines lesson plan with explanatory notes. We do not expect you to download and submit the same thing bu

Leave a comment