Digital Age Teaching and Learning

Curriculum Planning and Development

Curriculum Planning and Development

Every year teachers must work on curriculum planning and development. Planning for a new school year is quite a large task and also involves some upkeep and modifications throughout the year.  Each teacher’s process is unique and depends on the requirements (local, state, common core) and resources (school’s grade curriculum) available where he or she is teaching.  When facing such a monumental task, teachers need some tips, tricks and pointers to help them while working on their curriculum planning and development.

How to approach curriculum planning and development

Curriculum planning and development is typically broken down into categories: annual plans, unit plans and daily lesson plans.  Each plan needs to contain the topic or contents, the standards or objectives that will be attained and some sort of evaluation.  For an elementary school teacher, examples of the mentioned building blocks could be:

Content Standard Evaluation
Charlotte’s Web – reading aloud as a class Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges. Written journal entry

This example could be a part of an annual plan.  When planning for daily lessons, the content must be planned for in terms of activities, evaluation and the materials needed. This is important so teachers can be aware of the materials she’ll need at least a week before using them.  An example of one activity for the above content might be conducting interviews.  The children can pretend to be journalists and story characters and interview Fern to see how she responded to her father wanting to kill Wilbur or something similar.

There are many ways to approach these annual, unit and daily plans, including planning backwards.  This means setting the highest goal at the end of the year in each subject area first and working backwards to create stepping stones to reach this goal.

Be flexible

It’s so easy for us teachers to get so caught up in our wonderful plans that we follow them to a “t”, regardless of what’s going on in the classroom. It’s important to remember that curriculum planning and development isn’t something we only do just before a new school year begins.  We must constantly re-evaluate and adjust our plans to meet the needs of our students.  If the class is bored with the content, it may be necessary to find another way to meet the standards – and if they love the content, you may need to extend the topic and try to achieve more standards using the same content.  Adjusting for the many learning levels you may have in your class is another important point to consider.


Collaboration while planning can be very helpful especially for teachers who teach only one subject area. Wouldn’t it be great if the math teachers collaborated with the home-economics class to work on fractions?  Or if the history teacher coordinated with the English teacher so that students read a novel written about the time period being studied?  It may awaken students by making their studies seem more relevant. This strategy will also give you support as a teacher as you work through your unit plans with a colleague.

Curriculum planning and development is a massive task, but it’s also full of possibilities and is truly a creative process.  Remember to leave plenty of time for it both at the beginning of the year and throughout.  Try to be flexible and focus on how your students are doing.  Use your yearly plan as a guide and resource that you can stray from as necessary.  Get excited about everything you include in your curriculum plan and your students will too.