How to Plan Your Standards-Based Year

Make your long-range planning simple with monthly and weekly planning sheets. Add pacing guides to your materials in order to plan your standards-based year with ease!

If it’s not your first year teaching, you know just how much goes into your ELA instruction. Not only do you need to think about your Reading and Writing standards, but you’re also going to be fitting in Reading Foundations, Speaking & Listening, and Language. It’s a lot to fit and if you don’t pre-plan, it’s possible you’ll run out of time. So, today we are going to talk about how to plan your standards-based year!

Building a Scope & Sequence or Pacing Guide is going to be an excellent tool for your ELA planning. Be sure to find a way to organize and store your files so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each year!

First, Find District Requirements

Initially, you are going to need to find out what your state and district requirements are. Some districts will already have a pre-made scope and sequence or loosely outlined pacing guide. Additionally, some schools have mandatory programs that will need to be considered when mapping out your year.

Once you have your district timelines, take a close look at where they may be lacking. Look for standards that your students have struggled with in the past and fill in gaps with additional time or material for those skills. If you’re allowed to, revamp the timeline to fit your unit themes or desired topics of study.

Plug Standards Into Month-by-Month Planner First

Another great way to start your standards-based planning will be to sketch out your months. I like to start with a brain dump or list that includes any project or topic that I would like to include in the year. Think about which projects, units, or lessons may fit into each month. Then, consider which standards best fit those themes or topics. Will you be learning lots of information about a holiday during a specific month? Be sure to include instruction time for nonfiction reading skills. Is there a novel that you use each year during a specific time? Don’t forget to include time for story elements or character focus.

I would always advise your preliminary planning to be done in pencil or on post-its. This makes it very easy to manipulate and work to perfection! You can use planning sheets like the ones in the picture above! They will help to keep you on track, and including all ELA standards for each month!

Link to free planning sheets here.

Streamline Down to Weekly Planning

Next, you will be able to focus on weekly plans. Take your Month-at-a-Glance organizers and narrow the skill and standard focus for each week. Which RL or RI skills will you be teaching? How will you fit RF and Speaking and Listening into your instruction? Will Writing and Language be carried across your main plans or in addition? Again, I would use pencils or sticky notes for easy changes. It can get sticky once we’re narrowed in this close!

This is a great opportunity to grab skill mentor texts and read alouds, or pencil in those long-favored lessons or project plans that you want to include. Go back to your original list and make sure you’ve not forgotten anything!

Link to free planning sheets here.

Or Try Finding a Premade Pacing Guide

Make your long-range planning simple with monthly and weekly planning sheets. Add pacing guides to your materials in order to plan your standards-based year with ease!

If you are unsure of where to start, think about using a pre-made pacing guide. These can steer you in the right direction and they usually keep you from leaving any standards out. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are more than just reading and writing standards we are trying to fit into our instruction. A pacing guide will be your best guide for inclusive, standards-based planning.

I have free pacing guides for K-4th grades! They map out every single ELA standard: Reading Literature, Reading Informational, Writing, Reading Foundations, Speaking and Listening, and Language. They even provide spiraling so that you can revisit the standards throughout the year. Click the link for your grade-level pacing guide below!

Link to free pacing guides here.

Do Quarterly Checks Throughout the Year

Finally, we have to remember that our plans are not set in stone. Don’t forget to do unit or quarterly checks in order to assess your students’ progress. Revisit your long-range plans and make adjustments based on your classroom needs!

Want to watch a more in-depth study of your ELA Block?

You can watch above or click HERE to watch the video on YouTube.

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