How To...Create a Pacing Guide

In my own personal effort to #ExpandMTBoS, I'm starting a new category of blog posts called 'How To' so I can share the strategies behind the resource. I hope new and veteran teachers alike can find something useful. Click on the tag to the right for more posts!

I'm not going to claim to be an expert in any of these 'how to' posts but I've made quite a few pacing guides and I can at least explain my thinking behind it.

Here is my Algebra I rough draft. Look at it first so that I can break down each decision.

First of all, I want a clear list of topics that I plan on teaching. I want those nestled inside cozy little units. I want a specific number of units that spans the course of a year.

I want these things so I can break them down into small, manageable chunks. I will be starting my eighth year of teaching and to be honest, I usually get about halfway through my pacing guide. That's pretty terrible.

I've just decided: no more starting over!!! I want to focus on adding.

I've started with Algebra I. There are 12 units...which means 3 units per quarter which means 3 weeks per unit. I have 6 or less skills per unit which means 2 skills per week. This is the goal I'm shooting for while knowing that some units will go faster or slower than I predict, the weather will mess up my good intentions several times, and instead of getting upset, I will focus on getting farther and farther along in my pacing guide each year.

I also align my pacing guide to the final exam or end of course exam. This means that next to each skill, I put the question number from the exam that corresponds to that skill. This way at the end of the year, I have a list of each question that students *should* be able to do (since I never get through everything).

This year I added activity structures to check off, mainly because I want to see how often I use certain activities and I want to make sure I include movement more often.

I also included the mathematical practices because I've never done a good job at focusing on them.

Reflection, seld-assessment, and peer-assessment came up a lot in my reading and at TMC this year so I added those sections as well. As you can see, this is a weakness of mine since I have very few ideas to attempt.

I put a 'notes' section at the bottom because I'm trying to get better at reflecting.

For next year, I would like to add vocabulary words, good questions, and prerequisite skills. I will try to add those things along the way so that next year: no more starting over! Hopefully I will remember to update this post in the next month or so with *this year's* final draft.

Oh, and the color strip at the top of each page will be color coded for each course and to that course's INB...of course.

This will also be a great tool to include in my teacher evaluation binder!

What else would you include in a pacing guide that will help you focus? What are some of your favorite strategies for self and peer assessment?


  1. I would love for you to make a post explaining all of your activities (including movement or not), and maybe another detailing how you use each type of assessment.

    1. Great idea! Thanks for the suggestion.

  2. My 10th grade math class is so weird I can't even make a pacing guide for it. We use the Singapore Discovering Mathematics series, and the tenth grade book only has real chapters for a semester and a bit. After that it's all "review" chapters which aren't really usable because they involve complex problems that combine domains of math that the kids don't remember and freak them out. So I do my own units based on what the class is weak on and what the Precalc teacher thinks they need, but that can vary from year to year. It's nuts. (Also, we missed a lot of school days this year, and it put me a unit behind in every class.)

    1. Try making a list of what you did last year and then build from/add to that. It's only to help you!

    2. True. I've taught the class three times now, so at least I have an idea of the content.

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  4. I've been working on doing something similar to this. I love the idea of including prerequisite skills, especially after going to Michelle's morning session at TMC! I don't know that I would have thought to do that, but I just added that to my to-do list for next year. Thanks!

    1. I'm going to work on one course per year so I hope to come up with the pre-req skills for Algebra I throughout the school year and then plan the interventions next summer. Good luck to both of us!