Why Is Writing a Yearly Plan Helpful?

By: Mark Banasiak @MoreThanGym

A yearly plan is the road map to help you achieve your teaching goal as well as to meet the national and state PE standards. Without a map, you are likely to aimlessly wander. When you wander with your teaching, you drift towards teaching whatever is easy, convenient, and fun. As a result, you more than likely focus on the skills you enjoy and avoid the ones you loathe.

Developing individuals who have the confidence to be active throughout their life requires us to teach them a broad array of skills. As a result, when they see those activities at the park, in the neighborhood, or at recess, they have the confidence to say, “Hey, I can try that because I learned it in PE class!”

Teaching from a yearly plan that is standards-based is a professional practice that is challenging.   It requires discipline. It requires you to stay focused on the big picture (your teaching goal) while taking all of the necessary steps to meet the standards.

Years ago, I learned about a planning process called backwards design. That is, you start at the end point and design a plan to get there. I previously shared how I use this process to design our skill progression sheets (i.e., unit plans). LINK

When creating a yearly plan, you can do the same. Start at the end, organize all the pieces of the puzzle, and then mend them all together.

A yearly plan is simply sequencing your unit plans into an order. The complexity of each unit plan is determined by how many PE days you plan to spend within that unit.

Here some things to consider as you create your yearly plan:

  • Standards

The end goal has been scripted within your teaching goal and laid out in the national and state PE standards. In fact, the SHAPE America Grade Level Outcomes (GLO’s) explicitly detail what a child at each grade level should be able to accomplish. Thankfully, my state PE standards mirror the GLO’s.

  • District Documents

Does your district have a physical education curriculum map? If so, these documents can be helpful when creating a yearly plan. You may also be able to find some online that other districts, PE organizations, and/or PE consultants have created.

  • Spreadsheet

I use a spreadsheet so I can easily see the entire year. It takes about 4-5 pages to see the entire year. You may prefer to use an actual calendar. Here is a sample of a few weeks.

Yearly Plan Blank

  • District & School Calendar

I begin by using the district and school calendar to identify all of the known holidays and school-wide disruptions (i.e., picture day, science fair, career day, staff developments, state testing, fundraiser kick-off, school musical, etc.). If I don’t know the exact date, I use last year’s date as a placeholder so I know to plan around it.

  • State PE Conference

Thankfully, I am able to attend our annual state PE conference. I make sure to schedule around these professional development days because they provide me with a wealth of knowledge and excitement to return to my gymnasium. As a result, I purposely reserve the next couple of days after returning from a conference as “New Activity” days for me to try some of the things I learned.

  • Frequency of PE

If you see your students daily, every other day, every third day, or once a week, you need to know how many opportunities you will have to instruct your students.

A PE teacher who sees their students:

  • daily, will see each class around 180 times in a year.
  • every other day, will see each class around 90 times in a year.
  • every third day, will see each class around 60 times in a year.
  • once a week, will see each class around 36 times in a year.

I see my students every other day so it takes me 2 calendar days to see the entire grade level.   As a result, a 3-day PE unit will take me 6 calendar days to teach.

  • Teacher’s Choice

I insert a “Teacher’s Choice” day immediately after long breaks and in between units. These days allow me to extend any unit if needed, try new activities, or to allow the students to participate in large-group activities. Since it takes me two days to see everyone, I usually schedule these choice days in pairs.

  • Units of Instruction

What units do you need to include based on the skills outlined in the standards? I would suggest listing out all of the units. You can then estimate how many PE days you need to cover each one.

  • Weather

Do any of the units need to be outside? If so, they need to be planned during the non-freezing months. Will the temperature or dew on the grass affect your instruction?

  • Equipment

Do you have the right equipment to teach a specific unit? If not, can you fundraise to purchase it? Would a neighboring school let you borrow the equipment? Are there any units that need to be paired together? For example, I pair a K-2nd striking unit with my 3rd-5th volleyball unit because they both start with balloons.

  • Variety

To prevent myself from getting bored, I try not to teach the same unit all day. However, that plan does not always work out. I usually divide our units by K-2nd & 3rd-5th or K-1st, 2nd-3rd, & 4th-5th. Therefore, I may be teaching basketball skills to K-2nd while teaching striking skills (e.g., ping-pong) to 3rd-5th.

  • Snow Days

I typically plan a week of “Teacher’s Choice” days in late February. This allows me the flexibility to push units around in the event of snow days. If we do not use the snow days, I then have a week to be creative!

  • Plug Them In

From here, simply plug in the units based on the number of PE days you think you will need to complete each unit. For instance, I need 5-6 PE days to complete our 3rd-5th grade basketball unit which includes ball handling, dribbling, passing, pivoting, shooting, offense/defense, and basic 3v3 with slow motion buttons. This comes out to 10-12 calendar days.

  • Other Special Considerations

Do you want to teach part of a unit during the first semester and revisit it during the second semester?

Do you share your gym with before- and/or after-school groups?

Do you insert some “Review Days” to revisit skills that were taught early in the semester or year?

Is there anything else that may affect your instruction that you need to consider when planning out your year?

  • Evaluation

I would encourage you to keep a running list of notes/ideas as you navigate your yearly plan. At the end of the year, you can review those notes/ideas in order to make adjustments for next year. Do you need to adjust the time of year a unit is taught, purchase new equipment to better support a unit, or lengthen/shorten a unit?

I truly believe taking the time to create a yearly plan will help guide you as you strive to attain your teaching goal and meet the PE standards.

Yearly Plan Sample



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6 thoughts on “Why Is Writing a Yearly Plan Helpful?

  1. Mark,

    Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. I could not get the links to see the blank sample plan or your yearly plan at the bottom of the page.

    Swanna Hart P.E. Specialist Rudolph Gordon Elementary

    Phone: 452-0200 E-mail: sehart@greenville.k12.sc.us

    ” The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra effort” – Unknown



  2. You mention a 6 day special classes rotation, could you send me a copy of your schedule or briefly explain how that works??


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