Prioritizing and Sequencing Your Math Year Plan

Our school year seems to race by faster and faster every year. A worry that we have is that our students might not be ready for their next concept, next grade, or next step in their education journey. Some of our hopes while year planning would be to:

  • Prioritize concepts that are foundational to the next school year.
  • Estimate time so that higher priority outcomes have more time.
  • Order concepts logically so that math ideas build within a grade.
  • Cluster outcomes that help kids understand the connections between math ideas.

A prioritized and sequenced math year plan is not a pacing guide. Rather, it is a roadmap that helps you, as teacher, know where you are going next, and provides an estimate for how long to spend on a concept. A prioritized and sequenced year plan should be revisited several times through the year to see where you are at, what might need to change, and what your students need next.

Creating a Prioritized and Sequenced Math Year Plan

Prioritize Outcomes

To prioritize outcomes in our grade level, it is important to know what concepts lead directly into next year’s math curriculum. Some tools that help you do this are Curricular Through Lines. It is most helpful to use the document that shows YOUR grade as well as the grade level after you:

A process you can use is to:

  1. Highlight outcomes YELLOW if they lead directly into next year. For example, multiples and factors in Grade 6 (N6.2) leads directly into adding and subtracting fractions (N7.5) and divisbility rules (N7.1).
  2. Do not highlight an outcome if it does not lead directly into next year. For example, numbers greater than 1000000 in Grade 6 (N6.1) does not lead into any outcome in Grade 7.
  3. Go back to your yellow outcomes. In a given year, you might want to have 6-7 outcomes that are highest priority (GREEN). If you have more than 6-7 outcomes highlighted yellow, which of those would be most important to emphasize? You might want to have a discussion with the next grade teacher to help you determine this.
  4. At the end of this process, you might have:
    • 6-7 HIGHEST priority outcomes.
    • some MEDIUM priority outcomes.
    • some LOWEST priority outcomes.

Cluster Outcomes

Some of our curricula have several outcomes that would be much more effective if they are taught together. For example, in Grade 7, there are several patterns and relations outcomes and a shape and space outcome that are easier to teach if you put them together:

  • P7.1 – Relationships between tables of values, graphs, and linear relations
  • P7.2 – Understanding equations and expressions
  • P7.3 – Solving one and two step equations with whole numbers
  • P7.4 – Solving one and two step equations with integers
  • SS7.4 – Ordered pairs and the Cartesian Plane

When you look at these holistically, it might make sense to cluster these outcomes into:

  • P7.3 and P7.4 – Solving one and two step equations
  • P7.1, P7.2, SS7.4 – Representing linear equations as a graph, table of values, equations, words, and pictures/manipulatives.

Once you cluster your outcomes in this way, they act as a single unit within your year plan.

Sequence Outcome Clusters

There are several things to consider when you are creating your outcome sequence:

  • How might you start the school year? What are they ready for after summer break?
    • If you follow the order of curriculum, we would begin with place value. While this might be logical at early grades, it can sometimes be daunting for students coming back after summer.
    • Consider starting with a topic that has lots of hands-on opportunities that can help students understand what numbers and shapes are. This will help get them ready for place value later on.
    • Example: Consider starting with a graphing and data outcome so that students can use numbers as they create axes for graphs and explore how big those numbers are within a real-life context.
  • What outcomes are pre-skills for other outcomes in your grade?
    • There are several examples where one outcome logically comes before another one.
    • Example: In grade 2, it makes sense that numbers to 100 would be taught before adding and subtracting numbers to 100.
    • Sometimes we might think something is a preskill that is not. For example, in grade 3 we might think that we need to do addition and subtraction before we do multiplication and division. Because multiplication in grade 3 is limited to 5 x 5, we don’t need to be able to add large numbers before we multiply. In fact, the pre-skills for multiplication are:
      • knowing numbers to 25.
      • skip counting by 2, 5.
      • decomposing numbers.
  • How might you end the school year? What is best suited for May and June instruction?
    • Spring is a great time to go outside and extend your classroom. When you consider what math fits into outdoor experiences, you might want to plan for those concepts in the spring.
    • Example: Grade 3 data and graphing could be based on finding things in the natural environment, creating concrete graphs, pictographs, tallies, and graphs representing what you find.

Create Time Guidelines

The time you spend on each topic is determined mostly by how many highest priority outcomes or outcome clusters you have identified and how many days of mathematics you have in a school year. If you have math every day, you can count on having approximately 150 days of math, as there are always concerts, field trips, and other things that impact instructional time.

  1. Estimate the amount of time per outcome (or outcome cluster):
    • Highest Priority Outcome – 22 to 25 days
    • Lowest Priority Outcome – 2 to 5 days
    • Medium Priority Outcome – 5 to 10 days
  2. Estimate the total number of days you might need for all of your prioritized outcomes.
    • Is this approximately equal to your instructional time?
    • Do you need to shorten timelines? Lengthen them?
  3. Plot your units out onto a school year calendar.
    • Do outcomes begin and end at logical times? What might need to shift for holidays and report cards?

Sample Year Plans

Sample year plans are not meant to show you a ‘right’ answer, but rather to be an example of what a prioritized and sequenced year plan might look like.

Monitoring and Revising Year Plans

It is important to revisit and revise your year plan through the year. Student needs and unexpected disruptions require adjusting along the way. Things to consider when you are reflecting on your year plan are:

  • Where did I think we would be in our sequence right now? Where are we actually at?
  • When I look ahead to the end of the year, do I need to adjust the amount of time I am spending on the units I have left?
  • Are there some of my prioritized outcomes that I need to deprioritize to give us time on what is MOST important?
  • Might I need to shift some of my lower and medium priority outcomes to stations or centers?
  • Are there some outcomes that I might connect to other curricula? Examples include:
    • Some shape and space outcomes moved to Art (transformations, area, 3D objects)
    • Some statistics outcomes moved to Social Studies (measures of central tendency, graphing)

It is important to keep your year plan current so that can make informed decisions throughout your year. Reflecting regularly can help you build a strong foundation for your students.

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