What is curriculum mapping?

A curriculum map outlines everything that’s being taught in a course or a subject. At its most basic, it’s a long-term framework that describes the sequence of learning and the standards students will achieve during the school year.

More detailed curriculum maps may also include:

  • High-level information about the key concepts students will engage with
  • Skills they’ll develop
  • Pacing of the course
  • Assessments teachers will use to measure student learning
  • Resources students will access throughout the year.

When we talk about curriculum mapping for teachers, we’re talking about an ongoing process of creating and revising these frameworks throughout the school year. Typically, this is a collaborative process that involves teachers, administrators and other education partners who help deliver and manage student learning.

Get a full breakdown of what a curriculum map is and how to build one here!

Generally speaking, curriculum mapping is about setting the direction without getting bogged down in the details. It describes the “who,” “what,” “when” and “why” of your education strategy. But when it comes to the “how,” that’s where lesson planning comes into the picture.

What is lesson planning?

If curriculum mapping captures the overall trajectory and objectives of a course, then lesson planning captures the details that make up each day of learning.

A lesson plan is like a daily roadmap or guide that structures activity in a classroom, from the concepts teachers introduce to their class and the materials needed to support student learning to individual learning activities and even a detailed schedule for each segment of the day.

Though lesson plans are most often created by teachers on an individual level – after all, a lesson plan for eighth-grade math will look very different than one for second grade English language arts – schools and districts may choose to use a common template that captures important components teachers should consider, regardless of subject matter or grade level.

What’s involved in lesson planning? Don’t miss our detailed walkthrough!

Lesson planning for teachers is about preparing for each day rather than winging instruction at the front of the classroom or scrambling when they run out of class time – or material to teach. They can also help students stay focused, as they know what to expect when they walk into the classroom.

How curriculum mapping and lesson planning work together

Curriculum mapping and lesson planning are separate activities with their own unique purposes. However, they’re closely intertwined when it comes to classroom planning and management.

Think of it as a physical map. Curriculum mapping is like looking at an atlas, whereas lesson planning is akin to plotting a route from point A to point B. Though they offer different perspectives, both approaches work together to get you where you want to go.

Lesson plans are great for filling in the day-to-day details and laying out the learning objectives of the day. Curriculum maps stitch those broader objectives together into a more encompassing view that describes a student’s educational journey not just for the year, but also across different subjects and grade levels at a glance.

Why plan at all?

Not currently using curriculum mapping or lesson planning for teachers in your educational approach? You may be missing out on these benefits!

Fostering collaboration and shared resources between teachers

What’s working and what’s not working in the classroom? Giving teachers opportunities to discuss best practices, share resources and align learning between classrooms can improve the overall level of teaching across the school district, for teachers who are new to the profession and those who are well established in the classroom.

Focusing on learning outcomes and student achievement

Starting with specific objectives in mind, teachers are able to build and plan learning backward from the big picture to the daily details.

Aligning learning with standards

What should students know and be able to do by the end of the lesson? By the end of the unit? By the end of the year? Planning helps teachers and administrators line up what happens in the classroom with the learning standards students need to achieve.

Improving learning each and every year

Curriculum mapping and lesson planning are both iterative processes. At the end of each lesson, teachers can ask themselves what worked well and what needs to change for next time. As the year progresses, they can take stock of what learning was planned and what learning actually occurred to make improvements on an ongoing basis.

Keeping learning consistent

Whether you’re looking at learning from a lesson-by-lesson basis or from a bird-eye view across subjects, grade levels and even schools in your district, a little planning goes a long way in making sure students receive a high-quality education that seamlessly progresses with them, no matter what day it is, or who’s teaching the class.

So where does Google fit in?

More than an excellent platform to search for information, Google offers a suite of apps and tools that can help teachers and administrators create effective curriculum maps and lesson plans through Google Workspace for Education.

While you might find the suite marketed primarily as an enabler or workplace collaboration, it can help connect teachers with students, with each other and with administrators and partners who share their interest in improving student outcomes in an increasingly connected world.

How, exactly? Well, that’s a question we’ll tackle in the chapters that follow.

Chapter TwoBenefits of Using Google

In this Chapter

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