Are you a teacher who uses Curriculum Mapping to give you detailed lessons or are you a teacher who has a year at a glance to guide and inspire your lesson planning? Perhaps you’re a teacher who doesn’t use either a curriculum map or a year at a glance. Maybe you follow a pacing guide and plan a day or week in advance. 

Every teacher is different. But every teacher can benefit from the guidance of both a curriculum map and a year at a glance calendar. They go hand in hand to help you see what needs to be done and how to keep your teaching on track until you reach the end of the school year. 

Both of them have a distinct use in planning your year. 

How to Create a Year at a Glance Calendar

A year at a glance is an excellent tool for mapping out the main priority concepts that students need to know by the end of the year. These are the core concepts that are necessary for them to master in order to move forward academically.

So for example, you could start with the final month of the year and list the concepts that students will be expected to know to mastery. 

Then walk backward with those standards through each month until you get to the beginning of the year. 

You can start by using my free template that you can download from my Member’s Vault.

Year at a glance template

A Math Curriculum Map Example

Student success in math

Using a third grade example, by the end of the year students need to know how to fluently multiply and divide within 100. Yet, in the first week of school, I’ve had students tell me many times that they have no idea what multiplication is, and that they’re scared of division. 

Walking backward, what do they need to know before they can multiply? They need to understand the place value of numbers. They need to understand how to skip count.  They need to understand grouping and the concept of equal groups. From that you can expand with activities that advance the students toward multiplication and division month by month. By the end of the year, the students are so proud of themselves for conquering such a scary concept.

Probably according to your math textbook, students will need to learn repeated addition, repeated subtraction, division with bar models, skip counting on a number line, and so on. You get my drift. But ask yourself if those are core competencies they need to move forward. If not, don’t put them on the year at a glance calendar. You can add those to your lesson plans as you have the time. 


What are the Core Standards to Include?

Here’s the reason you start with the core standards and concepts when you’re curriculum mapping. You really don’t know what your students know until you have them in your class. They may take longer to grasp a concept than another class did. Or perhaps you’ll have students that move quickly through one concept but struggle with another. The year at a glance allows you to take a broad, bird’s-eye view of the year so you can make adjustments for the personal needs of your students and differentiate for them. Check out Core Standards or Achieve the Core for help in deciding which standards fit your priority instructional content.

Differences Between a Curriculum Map and a Year at a Glance

Your year at a glance is NOT a curriculum map. It does not include how you’re going to teach something or which resources you’re going to use. However, if you want to add short notes about resources, you can. Typically the year at a glance is used to specify the core standards to teach before moving forward. In reality, it’s more of a one or two page summary of your year.

Curriculum mapping is a much more detailed process. It covers everything you’re going to teach. It can expand to cover articulation with the grade before yours and the grade after. This is fabulous to have if you find yourself teaching a multi-grade class.

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Curriculum Mapping Teams

Some districts have the good fortune of having a team that writes the curriculum maps and year at a glance calendars for all the grade levels. I never taught in a district large enough to have that. Therefore, I developed an easy way of creating a curriculum map that ties in with my year at a glance and is parsed out into my weekly plans. 

You’ll spend a fraction of the time in weekly planning that you do now, because it will all done at the beginning of the year with your curriculum mapping.

Begin with a map of the standards, pulling  out the core standards and priority instructional content and putting them into a year at a glance calendar. After that, develop the curriculum map using the year at a glance as a guide. Last, develop more detailed lessons and link them to the curriculum map.

Keep your year at a glance handy and visible in your planbook or on your desk or workspace. With it, there is never any doubt about where you’re going and how much time you have to get there.

If you’re in a grade level with other teachers and you like to collaborate:

Lucky You! You can Plan Collaboratively!

This is a great tool to use when curriculum mapping your year together. Then you can start having the discussion of how you’re going to teach them. If you’re on a supportive team it can be wonderful to have one person plan the math syllabus. Another team member could plan the ELA syllabus. Maybe another teacher loves science or art and wants to plan that. 

That way all the students in your grade level are receiving the same or similar lessons sharing your resources. Best of all, you can cut your planning time down by 1/3 if there’s three of you on a team and each of you plans one subject.

Just this one little tip will save you countless hours of planning time. That wins you a whole lot of time to spend with your family or friends! 

Curriculum mapping saves you time

However, even if you’re planning alone, just having this guide will save you hours of planning time. You won’t feel as though you’re spinning your wheels and getting nowhere. You won’t have to give up your Sunday afternoons searching for resources to use for the next week. 

Parents Like to See the Year at a Glance

One more bonus that I discovered is that parents who want to be more involved in helping their students at home love seeing a year at a glance calendar. They know what their children will be learning each month. Parents of my students used to print out the year at a glance and hang it on their refrigerators. I think it puts parents’ minds at ease to know their child’s teacher has a plan for success.  

Please download my year-at-a-glance template from my Member’s Vault. It’s a one page printable in Excel. You could also upload it to Google Drive or OneDrive, or whatever service you use.

Year at a Glance on tablet

I’m happy to share this with you. You might enjoy my free 5 day video course called “Plan Your Year Like a Boss in 5 Days or Less.” Click the link if you want to watch a video about it. My mission is to provide you with resources that help you win back priceless hours of your time because no teacher should have to sacrifice their weekends to be the best teacher for their students. 







If you’re like most teachers, you want to save time planning and grading so you can spend more time doing the things you love. Sign up for my email group and get the free video series, “Plan Your Year Like a Boss in 5 Days or Less.” Because every teacher deserves to have a weekend off.