An In-Depth Look at the Year Outline

Year Outline

A couple weeks ago, I explained how I came to use the English Anchors as the “backbone” of my curriculum planning.  In this follow up post, I’m going to dig into the details of this outline and explain why and how I mapped it out as I did.  It isn’t totally finished, but it’s bound to change anyway over the course of the school year.  Even though I think it’s important to map out a curriculum, it has to be viewed as a living document.

The first two columns here are really the key to the whole map.  The unit is designated by the anchor(s) that will be stressed over that period of time and then, by looking at the related standards to determine how much time each anchor would take, I decided how long I wanted each unit to be.  If you look at the unit/anchor order, you’ll see that they don’t occur in the order that they are listed by PDE.  I ordered them in the way that most intuitively made sense to me and, the real goal, for my students (e.g. Comprehension comes first because comprehending a text must occur before analysis of a text).  A big difference this year is that I’m planning lessons based on unit days, rather than by week; this ensures that the occasional snow day or last-minute assembly won’t throw off my whole week.

Based on last school year, I estimated how many days of instruction I would have after factoring out testing days, breaks, and anything else I could think of.  Again, there is nothing exact about this map; it has to be flexible enough to address the needs of the students and whatever time constraints we may face.  This year, I also plan to use Fridays alternately as independent reading days and vocabulary quiz days.  You’ll see at the bottom of the outline that I calculated the total number of Fridays I would have for each and subtracted that from my total number of instructional days (145 total).  After mapping out how I would use my days, I thought about how long I would need for each book we are reading.

In the third column, I listed what book would be paired with what units.  I tried to give each book as close to the same number of instructional days as possible.  Again, there might be some give and take; we might not need as much time for Things Fall Apart and use some of those days for Macbeth.  Over the course of a given book, some days will be devoted exclusively to the study of that book, while more often the anchors being addressed in each unit will be practiced with the book it’s paired with.

The last column of this outline is by far the most fluid.  Here, I started to roughly outline the pacing for each book.  As you can see, I’ve only completed this for The House on Mango Street. I’m not too worried about sticking with that pace consistently, but having it in the outline will at least give me an idea of how far along in the book we should be to make sure we can give each book the time and attention it deserves.  With this spreadsheet as my curriculum map, I’m starting to plan out each unit, and although it takes some time and thought, it’s a great way to stay focused as I plan each lesson of each unit.  In future posts I’ll show examples of units based on this framework.

I’m always curious to see how other teachers are mapping out their curricula.  If you have any questions about my map or want to share your own mapping strategies or outlines, please comment here or email me!

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