Macro and Micro Lesson Planning

Under the microscope…

ESL Library recently received a request from one of our subscribers to explain what the concepts macro and micro lesson planning meant. To be honest, it was the first time I’d come across these terms. After a bit of research, I realized both methods of lesson planning were indeed familiar to me because I’d put them into practice many times during my teaching career. Let’s look at macro and micro lesson planning in more detail.

Macro Lesson Planning

The term macro comes from Greek makros meaning “long, large”. For teachers, macro lesson planning means coming up with the curriculum for the semester/month/year/etc. Not all teachers feel they are responsible for this as many schools have set curriculums and/or textbooks determined by the academic coordinator. However, even in these cases, teachers may be called upon to devise a curriculum for a new class, modify an older curriculum, or map out themes to match the target lessons within the curriculum.

At my old school, for instance, I had the chance to develop the curriculum for a TOEIC Intermediate and a TOEFL Advanced class when they were first introduced at our school. I’ve also modified older curricula (or curriculums, if you prefer—both are acceptable) for various levels because of students’ changing needs. And finally, my old school kindly granted the teachers one day a month of paid prep time/new student intake, where we’d decide on the themes that we’d be using for our class to ensure there wasn’t too much overlap with other classes. We did have a set curriculum in terms of grammar points, but themes and supplementary materials were up to us. Doing a bit of planning before the semester started ensured that we stayed organized and kept the students’ interest throughout the semester.

Another benefit of macro lesson planning is that teachers can share the overall goals of the course with their students on the first day, and they can reiterate those goals as the semester progresses. Students often lose sight of the big picture and get discouraged with their English level, and having clear goals that they see themselves reaching helps prevent this.

Micro Lesson Planning

The term micro comes from the Greek mikros meaning “small, little”. In the ELT industry, micro lesson planning refers to planning one specific lesson based on one target (e.g., the simple past). It involves choosing a topic or grammar point and building a full lesson to complement it. A typical lesson plan involves a warm-up activity, which introduces the topic or elicits the grammar naturally, followed by an explanation/lesson of the point to be covered. Next, teachers devise a few activities that allow students to practice the target point, preferably through a mix of skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing). Finally, teachers should plan a brief wrap-up activity that brings the lesson to a close. This could be as simple as planning to ask students to share their answers from the final activity as a class.

Some benefits of micro lesson planning include classes that runs smoothly and students who don’t get bored. Lesson planning ensures that you’ll be prepared for every class and that you’ll have a variety of activities on hand for whatever situation may arise (well, the majority of situations…I’m sure we’ve all had those classes where an activity we thought would rock ends up as an epic fail).

For more information on micro lesson planning, check out How to Make a Lesson Plan, a blog post I wrote last year, where I emphasized the importance of planning fun, interesting fillers so that students stay engaged. I also provided links in that post to many examples of activities you can use for warm-ups, main activities, fillers, homework, etc. There is also a good template for a typical lesson plan at .docstoc.

Can anyone think of other benefits of macro or micro lesson planning? Does anyone have a different definition of these terms? Let us know below.

Happy planning!


Leave a Comment ↓

  1. roxane says:

    Aug 04, 2018 at 8:13 am

    Hi tanya.
    Can i ask,
    What are Disadvantages of macro teaching??

    • Tanya Trusler says:

      Aug 06, 2018 at 1:41 pm

      Hi Roxane, in my opinion, there aren’t that many disadvantages to planning out the curriculum for the course/term/year. I would guess that some teachers might feel like macro planning makes classwork too rigid and limiting, and that is a good point. Even with a set curriculum, I think it’s important to have some flexibility. As we get to know our students better, we learn their strengths and weaknesses, and any good teacher will want to incorporate new material that is geared toward our students’ needs and goals.

      Ideally, you’d have a well-thought out plan/curriculum for the term/year (macro planning) that allows for the incorporation of new materials when necessary (micro planning). Or at least that’s one way of looking at it! :)

  2. satyanarayan says:

    Sep 27, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Very helpful your topic..and comment.I m in under D.el.ed course of teacher i know the definition of micro and macro lesson plan…thanks Tanya

    • Tanya Trusler says:

      Sep 27, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      I’m glad it helped you!

  3. Donald says:

    Aug 31, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    Thnx it really helped me with my assignment

    • Tanya Trusler says:

      Sep 01, 2017 at 3:48 pm

      Happy to hear it, Donald!

  4. Gerry B says:

    Jun 19, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Hi Tanya, I found your discussion topic very interesting. It is a great challenge for educators who haven’t received this knowledge. I have a lot of macro and micro lesson plan in diagram with me. just that the space is little to paste it. Thk you

    • Tanya Trusler says:

      Jun 19, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      Thank you, Gerry. Yes, sometimes it’s just easier to design our own templates to accommodate everything we need to include.

  5. Gerry B says:

    Jun 15, 2017 at 2:44 am

    macro lesson plan is more focused on the curriculum topic as main idea whereas micro lesson plan you have the main idea of the curriculum topic that you can structure in sub-units or different lesson themes. the lesson theme determine the place of the lesson in the wide curriculum context. to understand it better, it’s more practical in different diagrams where you can easily understand the curriculum topic / subtopic/ lesson theme

  6. khalid says:

    May 16, 2017 at 11:37 am

    Hello Tanya,
    Thank you so much for this detailed and clear explanation of the difference btw macro and micro lesson planning that will help me a great deal for my future lesson plans.

    • Tanya Trusler says:

      May 16, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      You’re welcome, Khalid! Thanks for your comment.

  7. MAshahid says:

    May 08, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    wow it is of great help to me, because exam is on 16th this month. Thanks.

    • Tanya Trusler says:

      May 08, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      Good luck! Thanks for your comment.

  8. Joyson says:

    Apr 12, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    Wow finally i can differntiate between micro and macro teaching, i have exam today about the topic for macro teaching.

    • Tanya Trusler says:

      Apr 13, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      Good luck on your exam, Joyson!

  9. shedrack says:

    Apr 07, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Am profoundly fascinated when i google this topic and got the exact results. It’s a great work,thanks for sharing it.

    • Tanya Trusler says:

      Apr 10, 2017 at 1:26 pm

      You’re welcome! Thanks for your comment.

  10. JAN SOJA WUDELWE says:

    Feb 16, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Yes thank you for sharing, now i can deffirenciat between micro lesson plant and macro lesson plant. Keep it up….

    • Tanya Trusler says:

      Feb 17, 2017 at 2:08 pm

      Great to hear. Thank you!

  11. Aadab mushrib says:

    Sep 13, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Micro planning alsi help in quick evaluation of student learning as well as effectv teaching methodology

    • Tanya Trusler says:

      Sep 13, 2016 at 4:03 pm

      And we should also incorporate the student needs we discover through evaluations into future lessons. Thanks for your comment!

  12. Ryan Francisco says:

    Sep 01, 2016 at 9:49 am

    As a college student, who take teaching career, this blog helps me in making lesson plan. Although i am new in here, at last i relieved. Thank you!

    • Tanya Trusler says:

      Sep 01, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      That’s great, Ryan! Best of luck with your upcoming teaching career!

  13. Neesha says:

    Jul 01, 2016 at 11:40 pm

    Your article was useful and is very relevant to situations in the class room. Prior planning keeps a teacher organised and student occupied and best results will be achieved for sure

    • Tanya Trusler says:

      Jul 05, 2016 at 1:24 pm

      I agree, Neesha! Thanks for your comment.

  14. masti says:

    Nov 03, 2015 at 1:39 am

    thanks for your article,

  15. Andreas Wehler says:

    Apr 17, 2014 at 6:48 am

    Hello Tanya.

    I’ve found your blog via Google, with key words “micro lesson”.
    Building, maintaining and proving hard skills for Software Development
    is the area of my interest. It astonishes me that there is a lessons library
    for English teachers they may take from. This is a dedicated knowledge data base
    which goes in the direction of a training framework I consider to build for
    elecronic engineers.

    So, yes, I’m off topic here, but very happy to read your blog.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas!

    Best regards, have fun and success


    • Tanya Trusler says:

      Apr 17, 2014 at 4:12 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Andreas! It was interesting to hear from someone outside of the ELT field. All the best to you, too!

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