Monthly Archives: July 2019

All Things Old… Are New Again: Unit Planners #MTBoS


Last week, we had a couple of required days at school to work on refining curriculum maps.  We are returning to the structure of the Course & Unit Organizers out of Kansas.  This is something we utilized for planning around 2005-2006 for several years, then it slowly dwindled away through change of administration, etc.

This is the course organizer we have for Algebra I.

One side shows a graphic map of the course.  The other lists overview of standards as defined by Kentucky Department of Education.

Here is an example of the Unit Organizer.

Left column allows me to list the unit schedule – tasks/lessons/notes in the order I have planned and link them to resources, websites.  The center graphic is the big ideas – the what of the unit, with color coded links to unit relationships – the verbs of the unit.  Right column is words worth knowing – a literacy strategy for pre-post self assessment of vocabulary I saw from @mathequalslove and modified to fit my purposes.

I struggle with Essential Questions – was told by one person these should be what determines our assessment questions, but another said it was the BIG PICTURE of why we are learning these concepts.  I need to go back and read McTighe and Wiggins book (I think that’s the correct one).

We chose to leave the backside as an open table – some teachers prefer to track HW completion, some student self-assessments during formative assessments and practice.  This table will be modified by individual teachers.

Though I loved this structure nearly 15 years ago when we were first introduced to it – I still modified the original layout to work with what I wanted in my classroom.  I used to have every student have a 3 ring binder and we used these daily to focus our learning.  However, a few years ago – a discussion with Crazy Math Teacher Lady led me to the following layout for my INBs.  It has ALL of the same information, but the look/structure of it has been helpful and purposefully used in our classroom, so I will submit the format required by administration, however, I will likely continue to use this format with students since I only need to update and refine a few items due to Kentucky’s latest release of KCAS – standards.

This is actually printed front/back and folded for booklet style with first picture the outside of the booklet and table tracker the inside.


Finally, I am sharing a page we were required to fill out not so long ago – initially it was for each lesson – overwhelming.  But I chose to use it as a checklist for unit planning.  This would ensure I had considered all program review requirements for Practical Living / Consumer Sciences, Writing, Reading, Arts/Humanities, Culture/Word Language/Equity.  A checklist of differentiation/modifications/formative assessment strategies and inquiry/technology/problem solving.

I could see this being useful as a modified checklist of reminders of strategies I have learned about and want to implement but also that I have completely considered all aspects of ALL the things we need to consider in planning the unit.  This is NOT my document Unit Overview checklist, nor can I give credit because it has been in my files for a while.


Do I believe the actual structure of the planning tool is the difference maker?  Absolutely not.  However I can appreciate that administration wants everyone “on the same page” and how building a resource for new teachers to ensure a continuous progress in course work can be valuable.

I do believe that having conversations with your team, ensuring everyone is focused on the same content is a change maker.  I believe having a structure to follow to ensure you have considered all things to include in your planning ahead of time… beginning with the end in mind, having a plan in place before you start, allows you to adjust within the learning cycle efficiently.