25 May Curriculum Templates and Unit Planners Designed for Schools
There are infinite ways to map your curriculum. Your curriculum template helps create focus and articulate the most important aspects for your school or district’s unit planning. Whether you are beginning an entirely new curriculum process or deep in the trenches of a current curriculum initiative, your curriculum template (or unit planner) is integral to your work, and the work of your school or district.
Supporting schools in designing, revamping, and updating their unit planner template is our forte. Here, we share some examples, insights, and best practices learned from years in the education field helping schools design and mange curriculum processes. In this curriculum template overview, we provide example unit planning templates to get you thinking about how you want to structure – or restructure – your curriculum template.
Reflecting on Your Curriculum Goals
In the beginning stages of designing your unit planning template, we encourage you to reflect on the following questions:
What is the purpose of your curriculum? What key initiatives do you want capture? Is your curriculum aligned to a specific pedagogy? Are there external mandates for your curriculum?
Knowing what characterizes your curriculum will help determine the design of it. Moreover, questions like these begin to inform the structure of your unit planner. Establishing your template is a key aspect of initiating a curriculum development process.
As you continue to work, consider how you want to use the curriculum and what specifically you want to capture, such as core content, interdisciplinary connections, standards alignment, or school mission. Over the years, we have found that most templates have some consistent categories (keep in mind that there are a lot of ways to say the same category, so we have listed a few common ones): Skills or Objectives, Content or Knowledge, Assessment, Resources or Materials.
When thinking about your curriculum template, please don’t automatically take that best practice off the shelf and use it – really sit with it and think about whether this meets your needs. As you look at the examples below, make sure you are reflecting on your needs and curriculum aspirations.
Join the growing numbers of schools and districts using Atlas to design their curriculum.
Capturing the Basics in the Curriculum Template
Sometimes we just need to define a few key pieces of our curriculum – in this case Outcomes (also known as Standards), Content, Skills and Assessments. As you continue to develop curriculum you can always add additional categories at a later date but sometimes simple is best when beginning.
Curriculum Sans Standards
When standards are not an essential characteristic of your curriculum, check out how this school created a template that frames the curriculum around Essential Questions and looks to capture 21st Century Skills and Instructional Strategies.
Traditional Backwards Planning
Starting with the end in mind is definitely a best practice. This template breaks the curriculum template into three stages to help drive understanding in the curriculum process being followed.
Backwards Planning with a School-Specific Twist
Speaking of backwards planning, why not consider how you can add to it to make the template bespoke to your school. For example, Bayview Glen Independent School added a Stage 4 in which it identifies targets for school priorities.
Developing a Learning Plan in the Unit Planner
Sometimes we want to really focus on the “how” the curriculum gets taught. Schools will choose to capture not just Learning Activities but other areas of focus like Differentiated Instruction, 21st Century Skills and Tech Integration.
We know that there is a lot of overlap from one subject to another but the question is usually – is it purposeful or accidental? Check out how a school made it a focus of their curriculum template with a section dedicated to Specialist Subjects and how they integrate with the core content.
To see the whole unit, visit Sigsbee Charter School’s public site.
Instead, if you are looking for something that is integrating directly into the template without having a separate section, many schools just add a category!
Encouraging Teacher Reflection in Unit Planning
Similarly, we know reflection throughout and after a unit is key – what worked ant did not? Support teacher reflection with a category for them to jot notes. That way, when the following year rolls around, they will remember how they need to modify a specific activity or make an adjustment to an essential question.