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Part 1: Step by Step Guide to Organizing Literacy Curriculum for the Year-Getting Organized

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

It’s important to be thoughtful and intentional when planning literacy instruction. You don’t want to get caught in that “what am I going to teach next?” cycle. You want your literacy instruction to help foster and grow readers, writers and problem solvers.

I am reposting updated versions of previous entries about planning a year’s instruction. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this updated series for a step by step guide for planning out your literacy instruction with tips and tricks for getting your year organized.

When teachers think about instruction throughout the school year they must be intentional in the planning. It’s easy to look at the state standards that are required by the school district and lesson plans, if any, set out by the school district. Many times, those plans are broad and general and need additional specificity to meet the needs of each unique classroom of students in the school district.

Teachers must thoughtfully plan their own year of instruction. Let’s face it, if the plans are made to include student active engagement, authentic responses and student choice centered around comprehension and understanding, the lessons are going to follow the district’s state aligned plan and you won't get caught in that "what do I teach next?" cycle.

Setting out a curriculum calendar for the year specific to your grade level and campus needs will create a BIG PICTURE and provide a self-created document to keep you and your students on track for the year.

Create an Outline

I am a very visual person and need to see the whole big picture. Isn't that teaching with the end in mind?

I started by drawing a chart and hanging it inside the cabinet door in my classroom. This chart included all subjects that I taught.

We were self-contained so the chart mapped out every subject area.

If you are teaming, then just put together a template of your subjects taught.

However, it is important for Literacy and Social Studies teachers to know what their Math/Science teaching partners are doing.

You should be able to support each other.

My fourth-grade teaching team would open my cabinet door and look at the year plan chart every time we planned.

We would draw arrows to signify movement, add things in, take things out, etc.

It was a ‘living, breathing document’ (I so dislike that term, but it is what it is).

Over time it evolved into a spreadsheet that we could lay out in the middle of our planning table.

Each summer we would stare at the blank template…so overwhelming…but start putting in pieces a little at a time.

  1. Put in the calendar dates for each week in the school year in the first column

  2. Put in school holidays and professional development days.

  3. Now, I don’t even want to think about this, but write in the state testing administration dates.

This will give a sense of what the year will look like and where the breaks will fall within the planned instruction. This is looking at your year in teaching. Know that it’s probably going to change with new school district requirements and the unique needs of your students but that is what teaching is all about. Go with the flow and draw arrows and mark things out!

When you have the big picture set out in front of you

it provides a focus for your school year and will keep you on track.

Check out the next post in this series, Part 2 of Planning Your Year Curriculum.

Until next time...

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