Unit Template Examples for Designing Your Curriculum

Spark inspiration for next-level curriculum design with unit template examples from schools and districts across the world.

There are infinite ways to map your curriculum. Your unit template helps create focus and articulates the most important aspects for your school or district, and is a key aspect of initiating a curriculum design and development process. Whether you are beginning an entirely new curriculum process or deep in the trenches of a current curriculum initiative, your unit template is integral to your work, and the work of your school or district.

In the beginning stages of parsing out your unit template, we encourage you to reflect on the following questions to inform the overall structure of your curriculum map:

  • What is the purpose of your curriculum?
  • Is your curriculum aligned to a specific pedagogy?
  • Are there external mandates for your curriculum?
  • What key initiatives do you want to capture?

Supporting schools in building, revamping and updating their template is our forte. In the Unit Template Library below we share some examples, insights and best practices to get you thinking about how you want to structure – or restructure – your unit templates to support your overall curriculum mapping process.

Begin with the Basics

Over the years, we have found that most unit templates have some consistent categories: Standards/Benchmarks, Content/Knowledge, Skills, and Assessment.

Add to the Curriculum Map

As your curriculum development process continues, your unit template will evolve. Additional categories might include Enduring Understanding and Essential Questions. Click on the image to see additional categories Accommodation & Modifications and Cross Curricular Links. Schools also find categories such as Notes and Reflection and Resources helpful.

Unit Template Library

The heart of curriculum design lies in translating the goals and mission of each school or district into something accessible and teachable.

Whether mission-driven or academically-based, these examples highlight a few of the numerous ways schools around the world make their unit templates truly their own and elevate their curriculum as a representation of their purpose.

Backwards Design

A best practice in curriculum writing is the idea of starting with the end in mind. This curriculum mapping template breaks the unit plan into three stages that articulate student learning from the desired results, to the assessments, to the learning plan.

For more information, check out: Taking District Curriculum to the Next Level with Stage 1 of UbD

Career and Technical Education (CTE)

For decades, Career & Technical Education (CTE) classrooms have offered rigorous, hands-on learning to prepare students to succeed in the real world. Different from traditional academic subject areas, CTE curriculum design often requires a separate approach.

For more information, check out:

Collaborative Conversation

Why stop at curriculum? Schools can also customize and structure their mapping template to organize and capture broader conversations happening within the school. PLC meeting notes, curriculum planning sessions, accreditation conversations, and long term planning are all examples of important conversations that need to be shared and archived. A school’s Atlas site allows for open, accessible, and transparent information to be shared across the school community.

For more information, check out:

Concept-Based Curriculum

Concept-based curriculum (CBC) is an approach to curriculum design that focuses on “big ideas” spanning multiple subject areas or disciplines in order to investigate the relationship between concepts. This approach encourages learning that can transfer to new situations and helps students address new and unusual problems in creative ways.

For more information, check out:

Differentiation and Modification

Differentiation and modification in instruction are crucial to elevating student learning. A school may choose to include specific differentiation categories to highlight differentiation throughout their unit map.

For more information, check out: Designing Curriculum with Differentiation in Mind

Early Childhood

Early Childhood education can be approached from a variety of different pedagogical perspectives, and your curriculum map can be designed to suit any of these, including Montessori, Reggio Emilia, or an age-appropriate general early childhood template.

For more information, check out:

Faith Integration

Schools with strong ties to a religious affiliation have the option to integrate faith into their mapping process by customizing their curriculum map to highlight key elements of their school.

For more information, check out:

Interdisciplinary Connections

There are many embedded similarities between subjects and topics. Schools make these connections intentional by defining it outwardly in the curriculum mapping template.

For more information, check out:

Intervention Strategies

Intervention strategies are used in situations when students do not understand the material and need to be retaught. These strategies can happen in the classroom in small groups or by a specialist teacher in a pull out or push in setting. While differentiation and modification strategies are important to consider when creating all written curriculum, intervention strategies are specific to the content and the identified students.

For more information, check out: RtI and MTSS: Tips For Personalized Learning

Inquiry-Based Learning

Inquiry-Based Learning is an approach to curriculum writing that encourages learners to use questions, problems, and scenarios to build their own line of investigation. This approach promotes learner agency and builds on students’ natural curiosity and desire to learn.

For more information, check out:

Mission or Identity Driven

Many schools intentionally incorporate their school mission into the curriculum mapping template. Their mission could be faith-based or related to a specific set of values. When a school designs their template with their mission or identity as a priority, they are able to strategically focus on how their unique school qualities and beliefs will be applied to student experience.

For more information, check out:

Pedagogical Approaches
In addition to a core academic curriculum, a school may also want to incorporate elements from a specific pedagogical approach. When these dimensions are embedded in a unit planner, they support focus and consistency in quality instruction, student engagement, and teacher professional development.

Project-Based Learning

Project-Based Learning (PBL) is an approach that involves designing student learning around a sustained, real-world project. This process usually includes an interdisciplinary approach and using a specifically designed template can bring elements of PBL into sharper focus for teachers as they plan their unit.

For more information, check out:

Reflection

Schools also opt to add in a category for teacher reflection throughout and after the unit. Intentionally planning your unit map to emphasize and draw attention to this information will support schools in focusing their attention in these areas. Deep reflection about all elements of unit planning leads to more thoughtful future instruction and using this category in a map is a great way to capture this information.

For more information, check out: Five Ways to Map Student-Centered Curriculum in Atlas

Social and Emotional Learning

Social and emotional learning facilitates the development of important non-cognitive skills. By incorporating these elements into the curriculum, schools outline how they will be incorporated throughout instruction.

For more information, check out:

Standards and Curriculum Programs

Within the Atlas site, schools have the ability to choose from a vast number of different sets of standards depending on the needs of the school. Our database of standards includes international standards (ie Cambridge, ICGSE, and AERO), national standards (ie US, Australia, and Canada) and subject specific standards (ie Islamic Studies, NGSS, ISTE, and NCCAS). Schools also have the ability to write and/or add their own sets of standards that are unique to their school (ie Portrait of a Graduate).

For more information, check out:

Supporting Accreditation

Atlas templates can be tailored to support accreditation and review. These customized templates can highlight specific sets of standards (both academic and professional), vertical alignment within subjects, cross curricular opportunities, PLC collaboration, or other specific requirements from an accreditation agency. We work closely with schools to support their collection, organization, and sharing of information to a variety of stakeholders.

Aspiring Curriculum Design

If you are interested in adding or adjusting categories to your unit template or want to discuss ways to refresh your map, reach out to our Support team. Contact our Professional Development team to learn how we can assist you in developing or refreshing your curriculum development process or improve your skills in curriculum writing. And if you aren’t (yet) a client, learn more about the platforms we offer here.

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