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Pacing Guide Love

A Google Sheets Template for (ELA) Teachers

Dear friends,

I need to confess something. There's something that greatly confuses me, and I'm just going to own it and say it and put it out there: Why do we need Curriculum Maps, Scope and Sequences, and Pacing Guides? And by this I mean: Why do we need all three of these documents?

When I start to think about these deep questions of the universe, my heart picks up the pace.

And then I keep going and I wonder:

Why do we need all three of these documents housed or kept in various locations/drives/binders/places? Does this create confusion...aka, lack of clarity?

And then I really start to panic and going into shut-down mode as I ask myself:

Are you part of this confusing process now--and if so--why?!?! And Stop it!

Ask my husband, Brad: I don't do well with clutter. The idea of virtual piles of documents that contain overlapping information regarding standards, objectives, resources, assessments, stresses me out. If I'm ever visiting your team, and you'd like to really unnerve me, show me a virtual folder of multiple copies of documents renamed things like, "Version 2.0" or "6th Grade Curriculum Map 2021--USE THIS ONE FOR REAL." Go ahead. I'll deserve it.

While having multiple documents that contain similar information is not helpful, it IS necessary to have teams create (and IMPLEMENT) curriculum in each of our grade levels and department areas. One trick to this, however, is that depending on your content area (or grade level) your document's format might need to take on special sections or descriptions. Using one universal template for all content areas, all grade levels may not prove to be successful.

I can't speak to all content areas' template needs because I haven't taught all subject areas. I have, however, taught and led within the English/Language Arts world, and this is most-often the curriculum development I'm asked to assist with. When I'm working with a team, I like to ask the group how they'd like to format their documents (after all--they are the ones who need to use them!) but there's one piece I have found to be a must: adding a pacing element to the plan/guide/document.

It is honestly not enough guidance to create a broad, general, curriculum map without providing guidelines for how long something should take.

Especially in the E/LA world. Different novels require different lengths of time. Different writing pieces can as well. To provide a new teacher a resource that lists what to teach, without an order or time-frame as a guide--well, it's like giving them a bag of groceries without any recipe cards. Their cooking may or may not produce actual, real meals.

I've created many, many different pacing guides throughout the years as I've worked with my own teachers or now as I work with school teams. I honestly would love feedback from you all on what you've found to be the best tips and tricks for guiding teachers through this process because I never feel like it's smooth--but maybe it's not supposed to be?

Today I offer secondary E/LA teachers this free, downloadable copy of my Year Long Pacing Guide-Google Sheets.

It's a total work-in-progress SAMPLE. It's not completely filled in (because this is not your curriculum; it's a sample guide so you can see what you might add to your own guide). I labeled it 7th grade, but of course this would work for any secondary E/LA content. Actually, you might really like this template for another content area--you'd just need to change out the column titles and re-structure it a bit. OR you might not like it at all, and I'm also totally okay with this. Re: total work-in-progress.

I added tabs at the bottom so you could see how various grades/courses could be captured in ONE document (for that all important vertical glance). In your own version, you'd add as many tabs/courses as you need and rename them of course.


Here are some key features I wanted to be sure to include--and I'd encourage you to keep/include yourself as you edit your own copy:

  1. Weeks. This is a pacing document. This comes first. Add in when your breaks fall, standardized testing, etc.

  2. Drop-Down options for your standards. I explain how to do this on the sheet itself, but here's a simple How-to video from Productivity Spot.

  3. For E/LA teachers, keep fiction/nonfiction/writing as your core columns.

  4. Actually name/link to the nonfiction resources, short stories, poems that you read.

  5. Assessments: link to your project/essay/writing descriptions as well as the rubrics that students will see at the very start of their writing. Rubrics are there for students to have clarity on what is expected (in addition to creating common assessment practices for teachers). Students need to see these rubrics early, often, and teachers should get into the routine of breaking them down with their students so there is no mystery around "what we are looking for."

There's no perfect document--but there are some core elements that help us gain clarity around what our students need. Often the time we are giving (or not giving) on certain topics and skills is a main reason our students are either thriving (or barely surviving).

So, if you were to ask me (which you didn't) which do I prefer: Curriculum maps, scope and sequence, or pacing guides--I'd tell you a lovely pacing guide with elements of the other two.

Here's what I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE: Your feedback! Snag a copy, look with a critical eye, and let me know what you think. What would you add/delete/edit? Do you have a more perfected version you're willing to share? Do we need a collection of options to pick and choose from? Can we compile this?

Thank you much for your thoughtfulness, organization, and feedback!

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Thank you for this amazing resource!! I'm a new teacher this coming fall and my brain is exploding with all I am learning and still need to learn. I don't even know what a pacing guide is but your template already is breaking down the mystery of "how" to teach a Lit unit. I'll be following you for sure. Thanks for your wisdom!! - Amanda B.

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