Big Picture Planning

The planning process begins with a concept based curriculum, according to  Dr. Lynne Erikson who  describes “concept based classrooms” which encourages deeper understanding and learning. Teachers plan for linked learning experiences (lessons) for their students that address the individual characteristics of their classrooms, students and school and community settings.

The “Know-Do-Understand” KDU Model provides a simple initial planning structure to support planning with the end in mind (backwards planning). It allows you to consider the connection with and between curriculum. Think of it as a cycle – The big idea is what you want the students to ultimately understand as a result of their learning; The Know section is the curricular content… they need to know this in order to develop their understanding of the Big Idea; The DO section is what you want the students to be able to Do by the end of the unit (the skills they will practice throughout the Unit that help them learn the content and develop their understanding of the Big Idea(s)!) and wrapped around the whole thing are the Core Competencies.

The BC Ministry of Education has created a comprehensive overview of planning for BC Teachers: Starting Points in Planning BC Ministry of Ed and some Guiding Questions for Planning  with BC Curriculum.

Different teachers approach planning in their own unique ways. Your School and Faculty Advisors will be valuable resources to support your planning. In addition, it is important that TCs develop their own abilities with respect to planning for their teaching/for their students.

According to the curriculum document “Starting Points in Planning” the BC curriculum describes a focus on the development of “core competencies and a concept-based approach.” The Know-Do-Understand (KDU) model is central to the planning process. Up until now, this is akin to Unit Planning. Now, according to the Curriculum Planning Guide, the curriculum is “an enabling framework …to use when planning your program instruction and assessment.” The Surrey School district has developed a graphic organizer to help teachers conceptualize the planning process: SD36 Planning Guide.

The learning standards are found  in the curricular competencies and content listed by grade level and subject area in the BC Ministry documents. The learning standards are often broad, but from these you can take direction and explore an area in depth. The planning process is shaped around the K-D-U model and supports Backwards Design. Download: KDUdiagram to support initial phase of unit planning.


Many school districts have developed templates to support teachers in planning. They can provide you with a way to begin the planning process, recognizing that you will adapt and plan according to your individual students and teaching context. In a PDF shared in a workshop for SD48 teachers by Dr. Leyton Schnellert, Dr. Schnellert helps uncover the need to know your students and context as you plan and also provides a very straight forward sample plan that includes a class profile, Unit overview, ‘sequence or pathway’ of lessons, graphic organizers and sample rubric (Grade 6/7 Diversity of Life Unit – p. 27)

Something that might support teacher candidates is the SD43 New Curriculum Planning Guide. This Unit planning overview template provides prompts and questions for consideration. Even if you are unable at this early stage of planning to answer all of them, you may find that being able to consider them, seek advice and begin to respond to these questions in your planning helps increase your confidence and prepare you to teach and helps you avoid simply ‘filling boxes’ on a template without considering your teaching context, your learners and your needs.


Additional planning resources including some templates and a few examples can be found within the posts on this blog using the categories or search in the side bar.