Whether you work on a 1 topic per term or 2 topics per term basis, it is imperative that you monitor and keep track of just how things are progressing.
How do I initially decide what to cover each term?
If your school has a topic based approach to planning – and most do, then you will be looking at areas of the curriculum that will tie into this topic. In the majority of cases you will be able to identify links to the National Curriculum that you can match to the topic title and then plan for activities from this point.
If we look at the Curriculum jigsaw below then we can see what is needed to be covered in each year group. In selecting curriculum areas, then if you wish, you can simply cross off “covered sections” as you go…but of course making sure that everything will be done in the year. So I guess you could say very approximately 1/3 each term, with many overlaps appearing more than once!
Here’s an example of the curriculum jigsaw for Y2
From this, and depending on just how the planning is documented in your school, then you should have, (in some form) a rough guide to how your curriculum will unfold across the weeks of the term. Here’s an example below:
Obviously not the whole curriculum but you get the idea of just how things are set out.
It’s not set in stone!
Of course this is an “educated guess” on how long you will spend on the various units of work that you have set out to cover. By looking at the content in each unit you will be able to approximately set out the number of lessons needed to teach the learning intentions and as such calculate the numbers of lessons / weeks involved.
Its all pretty rough but it does give you a format to work to.
Now we all know that in our dealings with children nothing is predictable! Our calculations may run quite smoothly, we may get through things more quickly than we expected or perhaps things don’t run to plan and a particular unit needs more work and input. Let’s look at each scenario quickly.
- Things go to plan – Its not often that things go to plan!…so when they do its a combination of surprise and smiles all round…
- You finish the unit earlier than thought – It happens more than you think – so what do I recommend you do? You can either revise what you have done, work on at greater depth or, and this is my personal recommendation; move on to the next unit of work and “bank the saved time.”
- The unit takes longer than you thought – This can and does happen, perhaps you had to go back further to clear up misconceptions…perhaps it just took longer to explain and teach the component parts of the unit. Whatever the reason, it just took longer than you had anticipated!
But how much longer can you allow before it starts to have a serious knock on effect on the rest of that subjects curriculum?
You need to make a judgement call here
For the majority of subjects this is not a major difficulty. If time lag occurs in most of the foundation subjects then you can concentrate on the main knowledge and skill elements and scale down the delivery content quite simply. In other words you focus on the outcomes and cut back on the content. It works and can be applied if needed.
It is in the Core subjects where this hits hardest and in particular Maths and Science.
These 2 subjects are heavy in skills, knowledge and content and it is very difficult to omit or shorten content delivery. English is a little simpler as you can start to merge teaching and learning aspects and as such teach, reinforce and consolidate areas much more easily.
Practically – You do really need to be keeping an eye on things if you find a particular unit in the core subjects is slipping. Concentrate on the main teaching objectives and the basics of the learning objectives and try to ensure that these are mastered by the majority of the class.
There is some flexibility in your termly planning ( a little less is 1/2 termly) but now is not the time to anticipate and use that flexibility. At the very most …..
Do NOT let a unit of work overrun by more than 1 week
Otherwise you will have problems in every other following unit in that subject area.
By the end of term
Things tend to balance out over the course of a term….some units may take less time, some may overrun slightly and some (surprisingly ) you will have judged just right!
It is always better to monitor progress and try to adhere to your initial outline timings – yes you may not hit them exactly but you must make sure that everything you had planned to cover does get covered.
If you feel you have had to move on before a certain unit was really consolidated by the class and you find you have some spare time at the end of the term or 1/2 term then you can always revisit and do some extra work in that particular area.
Don’t be tempted to keep pushing a unit and not moving on in your planning. This, as I have said will affect all the following units. Much better to move onto the next taught unit of work; keep roughly to the times allocated, and then revisit anything if you need to and have time at the end.
Within your initial planning you outlined an approximate time line for the curriculum delivery of each subject. This was based on your overview of the topic, the unit coverage needed for your age group over the year and your decided breakdown term by term.
So your plan for each term is a well thought out guide which you do really need to follow. Don’t be “pushed around ” by the curriculum. Be objective and be practical. Stick with your set times as far as is possible. Monitor progress at regular intervals and you will move effectively and efficiently through your planned teaching programme for your children.