Would you think I’m crazy if I told you that I actually love planning for the school year? I really do. I’m one of those people who needs to have a plan. I haven’t yet decided if it’s a blessing or curse.
When I am planning for the school year, I always plan with the end result in mind. I’m horrible at starting small with daily lessons and working my way toward a year’s worth of plans. I really don’t think I could do it that way. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just not how my mind works. I have to think about where I need my students to be at the end of the year (according to my goals and my state’s expectations via our standardized test) and work backwards from there. I like to layout one subject at a time, because it’s hard for me to juggle multiple subjects. I typically start with math, since it’s my favorite.
I first print out all of my standards (for the hundredth time) and decide what units I need to teach, and all of the standards and skills in each unit. I usually create a table for each unit I teach, and I write every skill that I will need to teach underneath the unit.
As I begin pacing my units, I have to keep in mind all of the procedural lessons I teach during the first 9-weeks, and that my students will take their state test during the middle of the fourth 9-weeks. I also have a curriculum map that I have to keep in mind, but I do try to use a good dose of common sense along with the curriculum map, because there are definitely some things that just don’t add up!
This year I’m creating all of my long term plans and year pacing guide DIGITALLY! I no longer have to send myself countless emails or leave papers at home that I need at school, or vice versa. I also think this will be a great way to share my plans with our inclusion teachers and activity teachers. Once again, I first print out all of my standards and decide how to organize the standards into logical units and all of the concepts and skills within each unit. I create a table for each unit and write every skill that I will need to teach underneath the unit.
I create a table for each subject that lays out the entire school year. I organize my table into 9-week sections, because our grading terms are organized into 9-week sections. I used to try to finish all of my units within the same 9-week period, but I’ve found that it’s not feasible to rush through a unit for the sake of finishing in a particular 9-week period. I’ve filled in units with different colors to allow me to have a quick visual reference for the year. The planning guides below are for my 3rd Grade Math, 4th Grade Math, and 3rd-5th Grade Reading units. As I begin pacing my units, I have to keep in mind that my students will take their state test during the middle of the fourth 9-weeks, so I always leave myself a little wiggle room.
Once I finish my year at a glance, I begin to plan my actual units. I decide on the order I want to teach each topic within the unit, and then I determine my pacing of the topics within the unit. The last thing I do is create the actual lessons, which is the fun part for me. Of course nothing can be set in stone, because I never know how my students will respond to certain concepts and lessons. This is just an outline to make day-to-day planning easier. If I need an extra day on something, I take it, but I do try to stay on pace all year long. I constantly assess during all of my units to see if I need to add or take away anything, because I don’t want to end the unit and my class still not understand the concept. However, I don’t teach in a perfect world, and it does occasionally happen. In those instances, I often try to squeeze in a few extra lessons, especially on essential skills. Fortunately, it’s usually only a small handful of students still struggling with the concept, so I do keep moving forward. However, I’ll continue meeting with those students in a small group on that skill.
Here is my language arts pacing guide. I’ve used this in third and fourth grade.
You can download the language arts pacing guide here! As you look through this pacing guide, remember that this is just my plan for my personal use. It’s not the end all be all of language arts pacing guides-far from it. It’s just my own guide for the year. You may notice that I don’t always teach every single lesson from my reading units. I make it work for my students.