Easily Organize Your Standards with a Planning Matrix

The process of rewriting my district’s middle school visual arts Student Learning Expectations forced me to reflect upon the importance of the standards in my curriculum. More importantly, it required me to reflect on the lessons I was teaching to meet those standards. Specifically, I needed to figure out what lessons met which standards to ensure I was covering what I needed to cover.

As I started the process, I became confused and disorganized by the multiple lists I created. I realized what I needed to use was some sort of visual so I could see the lessons and the standards together on one page. To help me in the process, I created a planning matrix.
planning matrix 1 planning matrix 2
I actually created three separate planning matrixes, one for each grade level I teach. I insert my lessons under the “Assignment” column next to the standards they cover. That way, I can see if I’m heavy on, light on, or not teaching certain standards. Then, I reassess and reevaluate the lessons.
Using this  planning matrix has helped me plan the lessons in my curriculum to meet all the standards, at least once.

What organizers do you use to help you plan?

How do you balance teaching the projects you want to and teaching to meet the standards?


Cassidy Reinken

This article was written by former AOE writer and life-long learner, Cassidy Reinken.


  • Kristen McCarthy

    I love your planning matrix! Would you be willing to share the template?

    • Thank you Kristen! Would you like a blank version for you to enter your standards?

      • Kristen McCarthy

        That would be awesome! Thanks! My email is kmccarthy@melrose.mec.edu

      • Leah Keller

        Could I get one as well? I would really appreciate it!!

      • Kate Farlee

        Could you please send one my way as well? It is such an awesome idea and would be a huge benefit as I recreate/adjust curriculum!
        Thanks for the idea!

      • Krista

        Cassidy – What an amazing tool you have created! I’m with everyone else and would love to have a blank version. Would you please email the document to kristaflaig@lanesboroschools.com

      • Amanda

        I realize I’m late to this party, but could I also have a blank copy if that’s still possible? amurphy@abewing.org Thanks!!

  • John Post

    Neo worked so hard to free humans from the Matrix – don’t ever create one – it will take over the world – then you’ll have to choose the red pill or the blue pill…

    • If “you take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”
      I choose the red pill. Taking the red pill allows me stay organized while focusing on student learning while in Wonderland.

  • Christina Cope

    I got so excited about this really streamlined idea I made one using the new NCAS that recently updated. Took a while to just get K done but it makes you realize how straight forward and consecutive they are.

  • Bridget

    I would appreciate one as well. Thank you. My email is bridget.akers@jeffersonschooldistrict.org

  • Andi mileke

    This is great. could you email me one. I am planning for maternity leave and this would help in my planning.Thanks

  • Terry

    Hi Cassidy. Could you also e-mail me one? My e-mail is pbouchard2@bellsouth.net. Thank-you very much!!

  • Heidi Graves

    Hi could I get a copy?thanks, Heidi

  • Tonya McQuaid

    Hi Cassidy, I love your template! Would you please email one to me? tonyamcquaidart@gmail.com Thank you so much!

  • Kris

    Hi Cassidy,
    I love your template – would it be possible to get a copy?

  • Tristan

    Hi Cassidy,

    I am another one of those fans of yours that is in NEED of getting a copy of those templates! time to organize myself before the tsunami storm
    Tristan Simpson

  • AnnaMarie

    Hi Cassidy –
    Could you please send me a copy of your matrix as well… I’m rewriting all of my lessons to allign with our newest standards. My K-5 classes this year are doubled up (or more) and I would love to use this to make sure I hit all the standards even though I’m having to modify everything to deal with the overcrowding in the art room.
    Thank you!

  • Emily Voye

    I am in the same boat as everyone else. Could I get a copy?


  • Mary Jo

    Can you please send me a blank copy? I teach K-2 and 9-12 and am desperate need of an organizing tool for my standards! Thank you in advance :-) mbayliss@chacademy.org

  • Kate Saretsky

    Could you send me one too? I teach grades 1-8 and I would love not to feel so overwhelmed! k_saretsky@hotmail.com Thank you ever so much!

  • Anna Boyd

    Hello, Could I please get a copy of your blank matrix? My email is anna.boyd@knoxschools.org

    Ps: I loved your presentation on assessing choice based assignments from the summer conference! I’m currently trying to start using standards based grading thanks to you! Thank you.

  • candicedennis

    Could you send me a copy as well please? candice.dennis@apsb.org

  • Michelle Ekross

    May I please have a copy as well? Thank you. mekross@twcny.rr.com

  • Hope

    Just starting to revamp would love a copy if you don’t mind ;) hopesohn@gmail.com

  • Myda Owens

    Did anyone get a copy?

  • Brittany Croft

    I would love to have a copy too! Can you email me at brittanycroft@carringtonacademy.com? Thanks!
    Brittany Croft

  • mary kernan

    I am just seeing this now and always looking for ways to work in curriculum. I am elementary art, however my department is trying to get a consistent plan both vertically and across the buildings with our transient population. I would love a blank copy of the template if available mkernan@romecsd.org Thanks

  • Gabrielle Mills

    Can I have a copy too? gabrielle.rae.mills@gmail.com

    • Abby Schukei

      Unfortunately, Cassidy is no longer with AOE and we do not have a copy of the said matrix, however you can certainly make your own! This might be an alternative resource that could be used as well: https://www.theartofed.com/2016/09/08/54511/

  • Terri Murray

    Would you please send me a copy f this planning matrix to artdreamer62@yahoo.com

  • Andrea Rincon

    Hello, May I please get a copy of the matrix? Muchas Gracias :)

    • Abby Schukei

      Unfortunately, Cassidy is no longer on the writing team and we do not have a copy of the said matrix, however you can certainly make your own! This might be an alternative resource that could be used as well: https://www.theartofed.com/2016/09/08/54511/