Planning your curriculum for the year can be a daunting task, at least I hope it is for you like it is for me. I strongly believe that if you’re not at least a little anxious, you need to rock the boat and try something new. If you like puzzles, you can find joy in planning a curriculum, because trying to fit everything into one school year given your resources, facilities and time is near impossible. I hope to shed some light into how I approach curriculum mapping. Once the year has been laid out, the lesson planning can begin. I’ll touch on that at the end.
BUT WHY??? Why take the time to plan out the school year?
There are several reasons why I plan out my school year, my units and my lessons. First, it’s the way I was trained, both in college and in my student teaching experiences. My cooperating teachers were masters at planning and preparation – down to even writing out my teacher talk to prepare for the week ahead. This practice allows you to reflect on your teaching before your teaching occurs, which helps you tweak things prior to when they arise in class. You can’t predict everything, but planning and preparation help you solve some of the potential issues.
Another reason for mapping out your school year is to ensure you are covering the units you want. I can look ahead and prepare for unit by unit by gathering the equipment, forming assessments, and reflecting on meeting the appropriate SHAPE standards and benchmarks. Curriculum planning can help you assess your equipment into what you have, what you need, and what you may need to replace prior to the unit occurring.
Lastly, I am passionate about advocating for Physical Education. I want my families, students, colleagues, administration, and community members to be able to see what our school’s Physical Education program is all about. I share the completed curriculum maps through Seesaw, Schoology, a google site, and I post them on the bulletin board near the gym. It is my hope for the students to know what’s coming, the parents to trust and appreciate our program, and community members in and out of the school to know that our program is different, different than what they had when they were an Elementary student. Providing a curriculum map also allows parents to have talking points with their kids. Helping start conversations about what they are learning and what they are soon to learn.
When I approach the new year, I focus on three main questions: what resources do I have, what do I hope for the students to learn, and what are the logistics for day-to-day physical education.
What resources do I have?
You are going to have a hard time teaching a unit if you don’t have the equipment, so make a list of what units you can cover with the equipment you have. This would also be a great time to use the Gopher Sport Inventory tool to make a list of the equipment you have and begin to work towards equipment you would like. If you do not know the budget for physical education equipment this would be a good thing to look into. If your budget is limited, you should check with your local SHAPE America state organization and host a health. moves. minds. FUNdraiser event. Not only could the fundraiser help a local nonprofit, help both SHAPE America and your state SHAPE organization, but there are also incentives to earn money to purchase new equipment through a GOPHER gift card.
You will also need to know what facility space you have, both inside and out. You can certainly teach every unit inside a gymnasium, but some units work better in their respected areas. While you are noting the space you have, also note seasons you will need to be aware of that could alter when you teach a unit. For example: I choose to teach football outside in the Fall while the weather is tolerable and save floor hockey, basketball, volleyball for the winter months.
What do you hope for the students to learn?
Meeting the standards and benchmarks for physical education can be meet several ways, but I see physical educators falling into a few different categories: developing and reinforcing physical skills, achieving an understanding for how to play a game, and developing the whole student. Personally, I put most of my focus towards developing the whole student while developing and reinforcing physical skills, with the help of a variety of games and activities. If an opportunity arises to play an actual game (i.e., soccer, floor hockey, basketball, flag-football, etc.), I will present the opportunity for students to participate, but it is not a sole focus. I see the focus on game play shift into middle and high school, but at the elementary level, my hope to create a love for physical movement. By deciding your focus, it will help you determine the amount of time (class days) you want to devote to a unit and the number of units you can cover.
What are the logistics for day-to-day physical education?
It is unfortunate that there are differences between how physical education is offered in schools from state to state, district to district and even schools within the same district. I’ve taught with physical educators who have been caught up in the haves and have nots. The most efficient way is to know what you have to work with and make it work. No physical education program is going to look identical. Whether, your students have P.E. every day or once per week, whether you are the only P.E teacher in the school or if there are four, whether your students have P.E. for sixty minutes or 25-minute classes, or whether you have 15 kids per class or 35. Lay out your curriculum based on the logistics of how your school is designed.
My 2023/2024 Curriculum Maps
I have curriculum maps divided into three groups: Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade, and 3rd through 5th. Below, you will see how I chose to create my curriculum map for 3rd through 5th grade.PDF-to-Embed
About my curriculum maps and helpful tips:
– Columns 1 and 2 list the weeks and number of days during the week.
– How often do you see students? I only see my students once per week, so as I was planning my curriculum, I had to keep the number of weeks teaching to 3-4. Having my students once per week definitely makes it difficult to assess, but with the plan I set up, it allows for both informal and formal observations.
– Consider weather conditions: I determined the order of my units based on the time of year for weather, as well as, how students typically behave/operate during the year. IE. Team Building for developing a community, Soccer at the beginning since it requires basic movement skills.
– My warm-up/cool-down incorporates instant activities with a secondary unit focus. By incorporating these into my units, I am able to increase what I cover each week.
– How will school-wide events affect your planning? I find it helpful to add in School Events. This helps me know if an assembly, concert, etc. may fall during a unit.
– I choose and teach my lessons/units with the focus on developing the skills while enjoying movement/participation, which means I can develop lessons with skill related games or mini-sided games to practice their skills.
– Regions of Focus and SEL Focus are something I plan to incorporate more regularly, since my school is an International Studies Magnet school. The order for the Regions of Focus was determined by matching units. I also chose to leave the first/last few weeks open for flexibility in beginning/end of year plans. The SEL Focus will incorporate small components of both the resources provided by SHAPE America and Second Step.
Laying out a Lesson Plan
For me, creating a lesson plan is considered the final preparations before I begin teaching. As I form my lessons, I have a warm-up (usually an instant activity) for the students to complete for the first 5 minutes. We then gather and review prior learning, discuss the plan for the day, and begin with lesson activities. After a few lessons, I gather the students for a closing activity to do quick checks for understanding, review work, and prepare to return to class. I used to write out my lessons in a lesson plan format, but with the Apple TV and projector in the gym, I have enjoyed planning and presenting my lesson plan/slides for the students, along with GIFS and images to assist in learning.