How to Use Curriculum Mapping for Planning Your ENTIRE Year


As you start to think about the upcoming school year, it is helpful to start by thinking about “the Big Picture”. What is it that you want and need to cover during your overall time with your students? Creating and utilizing curriculum maps (also referred to as pacing guides, long-range plans, year at a glance planning, etc.) will allow you to be sure that all concepts and standards for your grade level are covered without having to cram too much at the end of the school year. It will also help you to better integrate subject areas for a cross-curricular approach to teaching.
{Click to access and download the Curriculum Planning Packet}

When preparing to make these plans (curriculum maps, pacing guides, etc.), think about what you’ll need material wise to help you stay organized while planning as well as what resources you have available to help make this planning as smooth as possible. This could include printable guides, colored pens, Post-It notes, last year’s curriculum guide, and notes that you made to yourself from last year. You’ll want to keep in mind projects that work better during a certain time of year, when vacations are, when field trips happen, and any other event that may impact your planning. Having all of this written down as you plan will be especially useful as you come across new ideas, themes, books, and projects that you’ll be using during the year.

I suggest using the following approach:

  • Begin by jotting down all of the major themes and big ideas that you’ll be teaching. Determine if there are seasonal activities that you want to include. For example, I like to do my Pilgrim and Wampanoag Projects in November, Gingerbread in December, and my Plant Unit in May. Use your standards to find an overarching umbrella of big ideas that you must teach during the year.
  • Think about read alouds you want to share with your class. How long will they take? When would be a good time to read them? Do they align with any concepts or themes?
  • After you have established the “Big Ideas”, you can start looking at the nitty-gritty: specific standards, lessons, and pacing. This will take some maneuvering and you’ll need to keep in mind the “extra” school events that can affect your pacing.
  • Consider your district’s requirements. If they have created a pacing guide, you’ll want to use it to form your own long-range plans.

I actually like to use Post-It Notes {check out my Post-It Note To Do List Organizer} to help me begin the planning process. It beats having to erase on a piece of paper as plans keep changing because I feel a unit would be better taught elsewhere.

I then like to create two sets of week-by-week plans. One is short and sweet and makes it easy to see things at a glance. The other is a bit more detailed. It is where I jot down ideas for lessons, books to go with the lessons, project ideas, etc.
Don’t forget to write down all your ideas as they come to you as you’re planning! You can always nix the idea later if it isn’t going to work for your classroom. It’s better to have that idea and not need it than need an idea and not have one!
In the end, you’ll be happy you took the time to organize your overall plans for the year. The plans will ensure that you allocate sufficient time to cover each standard and objective and will provide a framework for building your teaching units. We all know teaching changes day to day, and your plans may not stay on a day-to-day schedule, but having this plan for the year will help you see where you need to get your students and how to better keep on track with all standards that are to be taught in your grade level.

I have created an editable Curriculum Map Packet that may be helpful.
The packet comes in four different formats and all are included. There is a colored version (featuring aqua chevron) and an ink-saving black and white version (which looks fantastic when printed onto colored paper). Each of those versions comes bundled as a PDF which preserves the look of the product and can be written on by hand and an editable Powerpoint version.

Pick and click any or all of the options below.


By the way, if you are not already subscribed to The Clutter-Free Classroom newsletter I encourage you sign up. Subscribers receive weekly tips for organizing and managing a classroom as well as exclusive free printables. You can sign up here.