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Creating Your Own Master Scope and Sequence

planning scope and sequence

Creating Your Own Master Scope and Sequence


If you are tired of teaching year by year week by week and planning day by day it is time for you to sit down and make a master scope and sequence.

What is it: 

A master scope and sequence  outlines the big picture of your school year in a two page document.  It is a a roadmap that you reference and recalibrate to as you navigate the school year.  The best part is once created, it becomes a living, reusable reference year after year.


What it is not:

A master scope and sequence is the big picture.   it is not somewhere you will put clear plans daily plans or the standards tied to each of your units. It is like an aerial view, but the entire year it isn't a zoomed-in picture. 

Having a master scope and sequence really helps you and your team have a Common Language about what is being taught and when. If you ever lose your way during your teaching or wonder what is coming up or what you've already taught,  you can pull out this master document and help remember where you have been and where you are going in your teaching.

Today I want to share the abridged version of how you too can make your own master scope and sequence!  

Let’s get to work!

Step 1:  Gather all the things you need

When creating your master scope and sequence, you will need all the things:

-instructional calendar

-projected dates for benchmark assessments

-daily schedule for considering how many days you teach ELA or Math or if on half days how your teaching shifts because of abbreviated lessons

-individual subject scope and sequences for: phonemic awareness, phonics, math, reading, writing, science, social studies and social emotional learning 

-planning sheets that come with the scope and sequence planning materials


If there are more content areas you are responsible for, your list may look different than mine!




Step 2:  Get friendly with your instructional calendar!

  • Number out the weeks on a printed copy of your instructional calendar

It is important to know how many teaching weeks you are working with!  This really is important for determining how much teaching and re-teaching and learning time you have with your students. 

  •  If your school allows parties for every known holiday, what days might you lose instructional time because of partying, concert rehearsals, recitals etc?  Take that into consideration because that potentially adds time to how many days or weeks you need in order to teach a unit. 

Little story:  I worked at a school where an entire week of instruction, from 8-12 was lost due to holiday recital rehearsal.  I lost a WHOLE WEEK of instructional time and I was BEYOND irritated. The next year, I blocked out this time, so I could anticipate how to adjust my teaching time.  

Step 3: Use subject scope and sequences to determine the amount of teaching time needed

Each module or unit in a curriculum takes a certain amount of time.  It is important to determine how many lessons there are for each. 

  1. Count up the number of lessons in each unit

Pro-tip: If there is a pre and post assessment for a unit, add the proper amount of days needed to administer.  For example Lucy’s Units of Study have pre and post assessments for writing each taking about 1 to 2 days.  Add those 2 days as lessons at the beginning and end of each unit.   So if a unit has a total of 12 lessons, add 4 to the total in order to include pre and post assessments.

  1. When you have the total number of lessons, divide by the number of days in a typical week you have to teach.  This is when I use my instructional calendar the most!  

If the unit falls during a week of half days or benchmark assessments, it is good to consider how you may need to add an additional teaching week for the unit.

Here is the simple formula I use:  

Number of lessons/ #of teaching days in a week =  total number of weeks to teach unit

I believe this works best for reading and writing, math, social studies, science, and SEL.  Curriculum can easily be mapped with less intricacies and layers than foundational skills.

Repeat this step for EVERY subject until you have an overview for each unit.  

Your curriculum publishers may already do this for EVERYONE they sell their product too, but it is important for you to know how each scope and sequence fits into your year!

Step 4: Open up your blank scope and sequence, take a deep breath and begin!

Remember this scope and sequence ideally encompasses instructional weeks.  You can include your break weeks if it helps you to visualize all the things.

  1. If you are adding in your breaks, highlight those table rows, merge and label BREAK! 

  1. If you have benchmark/assessment weeks or weeks with half days, mark those weeks in column one where each week is labeled.  This will help determine how you plan or adjust your planning.

For example: Week 1: ½ Days, you may not get to science on half day weeks, so your units may extend out extra time.  It is good to plan for this.

  1. Title each column where it says subject/component with the subject you teach.

Step 5: Start Mapping One Subject at a time!


For this you will need the planning template where you wrote out each subject and how many weeks each unit will take!

Begin at the end and work up to the beginning!  

Starting with the last instructional and the last unit shows how much time or lack of time is  left at the start of the year!   It allows you to see how you can ease into the year or adjust your instruction!

scope-sequence-planning template

Start with the easiest items to map: reading, writing, math, science, SEL, and social studies. I keep reading and writing next to each other and in retrospect it should be right next to all my foundational columns.  

To plug in units you follow a very simple process:  

  • Go to the column for the subject you are working on.
  • Scroll to the last week and highlight up the number of cells that match the number of weeks needed to complete the unit.
  • Merge the cells
  • Type in the Unit Name and Number of Lessons

  • Repeat this process for every unit for every subject.

    Step 6:  Mapping Foundational Skills

    I feel this is the part that gets really personal.  Included in the scope and sequence resources is a planning sheet that helps you to think through what your big foundational goals are for your classroom.

    Foundational goals, while pretty universal, will vary depending on the requirements in each of your districts. 


    I include in the resource my scope and sequence that I created for my classroom based on the requirements that my district gave me and some that I added to push my students towards mastery a little bit sooner. 

    I believe by writing out the goals that you have for your classroom in High Frequency Word knowledge, letter sound knowledge,  decodable word writing, syllable knowledge, and  word decoding you have a better idea of where you want your kids to go with their reading/writing and how you're going to get there.***   

    ***The ideas listed above are the ones that came to mind and do not represent every kernel of foundational knowledge we want our kids to have.  

    Once you write out your goals, add by what date do you want your kids to be proficient with those skills.  So the second step is to add dates to your goals.

    Some things to think about and consider for this portion is:

    1. How many letters and sounds will you teach a week?
    2. When do you plan on introducing HFWs?  How many are you required to teach?  (include only the ones that pertain to your grade level, not the ones you may need to backfill from previous years)
    3. What spelling patterns or syllable types do you teach?  Ideally when do you introduce them?  When do you normally expect mastery?
    4. If you use a phonemic awareness curriculum, when will you introduce it?  

    I use Heggerty and we just jump all in in little ‘mini moments’.  Kinder friends can only take so much carpet time!

    • What assessments are you required to give?  Remember to consider report cards! 
    • What is the expected reading level they are to leave the classroom with?
    • What weeks might you assess and reteach? 

    I mark assessment weeks as assessment and review weeks as review.  It is that simple.  I assess based on what was taught weeks prior and review/reteach based on which foundational content is below 80% in whole class data!

    This is the BEAST portion of building out the scope and sequence.  And to be honest, there is no right answer, but there may be an ideal answer.  So, I ask you to think about the above questions through the lens of,  ‘in an ideal world’.  

    How to add  foundational skills to your scope and sequence:

    During this portion of planning, do the opposite of everything else I have said. 

    Start at the beginning and plan forward.  I planned backwards once and based on where certain skills landed, I knew they were not where they should be.  Planning from week 1 to week 35/36 gives you a better idea of how kids will progress!  

    Here you will definitely type into each cell in the table, there generally is no merging of cells because each week tends to focus on a skill or a set of skills!

    Make sure to align assessments close to report cards, so you have fresh data! This is just a suggestion, so you are not reassessing more than needed!

    For your foundational skills you will use one column for phonemic awareness (writing in just the week or lessons you will cover), you will put in the letters/sounds you will teach in a separate column, then HFW in their own column. 

    I determined there were only about 30 true sight words for kindergarten, so after students could build cvc words with known phonemes, I layered in high frequency words. 

    This part, if you understand how your foundational skills progress, will be intuitive, but remember this is not a static process, so if you start teaching from your sequence, and it does not feel right, you can adjust!

    Step 7: Walk Away from the document and let your brain rest!

    Once you hit this step, your eyeballs may be crossed and your brain may be fried!

    In all honesty, the last step is to let your document marinate and for you to rest!  

    This may take some tweaking, but do not do it in one sitting.  Share it with your colleagues, get feedback and polish it for the year!  This document is a living document and will need time rest and you will need time to rest.  

    If you have questions about any part of this process, like I always say: reach out!  DM ME on facebook, find me on instagram or email me!  I am here to help



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    • Lindsey on

      This is the best! Thank you for breaking it down for me! I can’t wait to join your zoom meeting about it!!

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