Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

LEARN Lesson Basics: Learning to LEARN, An Introduction

Lindsey Link, Cacey Wells | Published: July 27th, 2021 by K20 Center


Participants in this activity immerse themselves in the K20 LEARN website and design process. Working with a peer collaborator, they complete the planning, design, and development stages of lesson building. At the conclusion of the activity, their lesson will be published.



To begin, think about a memorable learning experience you have had in your life. This could be something you experienced in grade school, high school, college, or in the real world. Using the Cognitive Comics learning strategy and the attached Cognitive Comics template, create a comic strip depicting what happened during this experience. Focus on what made the experience so memorable rather than the art skills. Include dialogue bubbles to detail the following:

  1. What was your experience?

  2. What made it so memorable?

  3. Would you consider this learning experience to be authentic? How so?

Additionally, take some time during this initial meeting to talk about your educational background and what subject area your expertise is in. Together, look through the Content Development Plan handout (found in the attachments) and discuss a lesson that you would like to develop throughout this activity. Your peer collaborator will be with you at every step to provide support, answer questions, and make sure that you have a good grasp of the activities. This Content Development Plan covers the bare bones of a lesson and is always the first step in the lesson writing process at K20. It includes the grade level, content area, lesson length, delivery mode, technology requirements, the essential question, and the learning objectives.


Once you have a completed Content Development Plan and you have gone through the Planning Proof with your peer collaborator, begin thinking about how you could present this topic to an audience by breaking it down into a 5E lesson format. To help with this, use the 5E Lesson Outline (found in the attachments) and begin thinking about the following questions:

  1. What is engaging about the topic you chose?

  2. What could your students explore?

  3. What could your students do that would help them explain the topic and clarify misconceptions?

  4. How could you extend student learning? How could you extend this learning experience to connect it with personal or professional learning?

  5. What could you have students reflect on? What could they take with them?

Remember this outline is just that, an outline! This is your opportunity to get familiar with your ideas, the content, and how they all piece together to form one cohesive lesson rather than expand on the details.

After you have completed your outline, explore the K20 Learn website using the instructional strategy Tip of the Iceberg. During this exploration, look through other LEARN lessons to see how other instructional designers have utilized the various features of LEARN and analyze the variety of strategies available to teachers. Using the Tip of the Iceberg Template, you'll want to identify the following:

  • Information that you already know about the site (labeled at the top of the iceberg)

  • Information you think you may know based on prior interactions with the site (labeled at the "water line")

  • Questions or deeper knowledge that you learn along the way (labeled below the "water line")

Once you have fully explored the LEARN website, revisit your Content Development Plan (CDP) and take a closer look at each part of the lesson. Which strategies do you believe would best enhance your lesson and where would they occur within the lesson plan? Make any changes to your plan and add these strategies, then schedule a time to meet with your peer collaborator. You will meet with them in the next section of this activity following the reading.


Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the attached Authenticity Practitioner’s Brief using the instructional strategy Why Lighting now that you have spent some time exploring the LEARN lesson website. Read the article making sure to note important aspects of the information and how it applies to your job here at K20. 


After you have made any changes to your Content Development Plan (CDP), open up a LEARN lesson template. The steps for getting started can be found in the LEARN Style Guide. This guide walks you through each step and provides helpful tips on how to narrate the lesson.

Within the lesson template, input your lesson details. The Content Development Plan (CDP) you created earlier provides you with a great starting point, but now is the time to expand on the details. When you are creating a lesson in LEARN, write it in a narrative format and keep a few things in mind: 

  • Would any teacher, at any phase of their teaching career, be able to pick up this lesson and teach it?

  • Are the summary, essential questions, snapshot, and procedures congruent? 

  • What materials are required?

  • What attachments could you create to help enhance your lesson? Are there handouts, PowerPoint guides, etc. that would streamline the lesson?

  • Do you need to add teacher's notes, images, hyperlinks, etc. to make your lesson more accessible?

In the meantime, take a moment to think through and articulate what you encountered in the reading, your exploration of LEARN, and the process of creating your own lesson using the instructional strategy 3-2-1. Be prepared to talk about these items in your meeting with your peer collaborator along with the next steps for a final lesson revision.

  1. What were the three most challenging aspects of creating a lesson? 

  2. What are two questions you have for your supervisor? 

  3. What was one thing you enjoyed about this exploration or one misconception you had clarified?


Finally, it's time for you make the last revisions to your lesson before it's sent off to be copyedited and published. Once you have made all of your revisions, set one final meeting with your peer collaborator to reflect on your learning. 

Congratulations! You just completed your first LEARN lesson. Send your lesson to the appropriate party for peer review before it goes on to copyediting and gets published.