Chapter Three

Reviewing Curriculum Maps

Reviewing Curriculum Maps

The critical difference between traditional curriculum development and curriculum mapping is the heavy focus on review in curriculum mapping. Curriculum maps should be ideally updated constantly throughout each class, and reviewed before every school year.

At regular intervals, your team should review curriculum maps to ensure that key criteria are being met. This allows the team to adjust curriculum maps as necessary. It is recommended that this be done before the beginning of every school year. The review process includes several steps:

  • First read through – Each teacher should read through the entire grade level, discipline, or school wide map.
  • Small group review – A meeting with 5-8 faculty members made up of diverse grade levels and departments. This lasts 60-90 minutes and the goals are to share individual findings and record questions based on the first read-through. The diverse groups assist in the movement from teacher isolation to professional learning communities.
  • Additional first read throughs and small group reviews – First read throughs and small group reviews are repeated and edits are made as necessary to the curriculum maps. The members of the small groups change so as to encourage new insights into the quality of the curriculum maps. These processes are repeated until a small group review determines that there are no more changes to be made to the curriculum maps or the suggested edits have already been made in a previous review.
  • Large group review – The entire faculty comes together to examine the findings of the small group review. This is facilitated by members of the leadership team. This meeting should last 90-120 minutes, with a focus on ensuring that each teacher is able to read the map, and gaps in the curriculum have been adequately addressed.

These review steps are meant to determine areas for immediate revision as well as areas for long- term planning. The following questions are important to consider when reviewing your curriculum maps:

  • Are we happy with the skills and knowledge we impart?
  • Do they reflect what we believe our students need for success?
  • Do we assess what we value?
  • Do we use a variety of assessments of increasing sophistication?
  • Can we identify areas that need our combined efforts to create smoother coordination for our students’ learning?
  • Is the curriculum map easy to read and follow from an outsider’s perspective?
  • Is it clear to teachers how each component of the map is to be utilized in the planning process?

What should be reviewed?

After the curriculum map has been created, it becomes more difficult to change the scope or sequence of class. What will be taught, and when, will remain fairly static unless a major inconsistency is identified. This means that the curriculum map review will largely focus on adding depth and breadth within each unit.

There is a significant difference between changing the scope and sequence and changing the units of instruction. Unless the standards being used are changing significantly, it is recommended that the scope and sequence are not changed. It may be determined that certain sections take longer than others to teach – it’s fine to change the estimated timelines for content. However, attempt to keep the order in which everything is taught consistent, as well as the overall learning targets.

Curriculum Maps Should Reflect the Best Ways to Teach

When done correctly, curriculum maps will become a living repository of the best way to teach the course. Curriculum maps are a place to put different strategies of teaching and make notes of the strategies that worked best in a certain offering of the course. Collaborating on a curriculum map involves adding all the options and then finding what works best given a specific situation.

Curriculum maps will become a living repository of the best way to teach the course.

As the group of students changes every year, the perfect teaching strategy will also change. Therefore, curriculum maps will never tell teachers how to teach particular content. Instead, they provide a variety of strategies to teach the content, allowing each teacher to use the strategy that they think will work best.

Maps Are Not the Ultimate Goal of Curriculum Mapping

Instead of thinking of curriculum maps as the goal of mapping, we should once again remember that curriculum maps are never considered “done”. Instead the process of mapping itself is the goal of curriculum mapping, with maps being a useful by- product. Curriculum maps are records of implemented instruction – of what has been taught during the current school year. These maps will be used to create projection maps for the next year, which plan what will be covered in the future.

Curriculum mapping does not perceive education as a static environment, since learning, and learning about learning, is in continual motion. Each year, teachers will have new students, classes, and school years. A school or district’s ongoing curriculum is provided by newly designed, revised, and replaced learning and teaching evidence in curriculum maps.

Consider also involving other key stakeholders in your curriculum review process.

The curriculum review process is intended to give educators, parents, and other stakeholders an opportunity to express their concerns. Changes should be made on the basis of their responses. As a result, this new curriculum will reflect a direct response to the needs of the students.

Curriculum Map Review Process

Reviewing curriculum maps is a 8-step process involving:

  1. Data collection – Curriculum maps are used throughout each class, with teachers adding notes about the curriculum that was actually taught throughout.
  2. A review of all maps by all teachers – Each teacher reads the entire grade level, discipline, or school wide map as an editor. Each teacher is assessing their ability to read the map, but no professional judgement or evaluation is made.
  3. Small group review – A meeting with 5-8 faculty members made up of diverse grade levels and departments. This lasts 60-90 minutes and the goals are to share individual findings and record questions based on the first read-through. The diverse groups assist in the movement from teacher isolation to professional learning communities.
  4. Additional first read throughs and small group reviews – First read throughs and small group reviews are repeated and minor edits are made as necessary to the curriculum maps. The members of the small groups change to encourage new insights into the quality of the curriculum maps. These processes are repeated until a small group review determines that there are no more changes to be made to the curriculum maps or the suggested edits have already been made in a previous review.
  5. Large group review – The entire faculty comes together to examine the findings of the small group review. This is facilitated by members of the leadership team. This meeting should last 90-120 minutes, with a focus on ensuring that each teacher is able to read the map, and gaps in the curriculum have been adequately addressed.
  6. Identification of immediate revision points – Critical curriculum map issues should be identified that are not easy to solve with minor editing. A timetable should be created to resolve these points, and the appropriate teacher or administrator should be appointed to make the relevant changes. These revision points should be implemented before the curriculum map is used again.
  7. Identification of points requiring additional research and planning – Less critical or more complex curriculum map issues should be identified. A timetable should be created to resolve this points, and the appropriate teacher or administrator should be appointed to make the relevant changes. The timeline for resolving these issues may be longer, and may require support from the entire district. Ideally these issues should be resolved before the next review cycle, to be implemented into the following year’s curriculum maps.
  8. Planning for the next review cycle – Curriculum map issues that have been identified should be added to the next review cycle’s agenda. It should be ensured that immediate revision points have been adequately addressed. Other curriculum map issues that have not yet been addressed should be reprioritized and the team should identify whether this is still a relevant issue.

These review steps are meant to determine areas for immediate revision as well as areas for long-term planning. The following questions are important to consider when reviewing your curriculum maps:

  • Are we happy with the skills and knowledge we impart?
  • Do they reflect what we believe our students need for success?
  • Do we assess what we value?
  • Do we use a variety of assessments of increasing sophistication?
  • Can we identify areas that need our combined efforts to create smoother coordination for our students’ learning?
  • Is the curriculum map easy to read and follow from an outsider’s perspective?
  • Is it clear to teachers how each component of the map is to be utilized in the planning process?

Common Problems Encountered

Here are some common problems you may face when developing curriculum maps and some tips on ways they can be addressed:

  • No clear link between standards and assessments – Ensure that each assessment is linked back to relevant standards in your curriculum map by specifically identifying which standards will be assessed. Each standard should be assessed in some way to ensure that your students are meeting expectations. Each assessment should be testing at least one standard, otherwise it may not be necessary.
  • Different subjects at different levels of curriculum mapping – Although teachers may prefer different types of curriculum maps for their personal use, this should be in addition to, not instead of, the school chosen standard curriculum format. Ideally all subjects at all grade levels should be mapped at the same time, but this is not always feasible. We recommend going through the entire process with one map first. This will provide valuable insights that can be used with further maps. Then creating at least a basic curriculum map for all subjects before beginning to build more robust curriculum maps.
  • Teachers are not using maps – Utilize software that incorporates curriculum maps directly into your teachers’ workflows. Administration should consistently motivate teachers to use the curriculum maps that have been created and to become involved in the curriculum mapping process. This will be addressed in more detail in a separate guide.
  • Trying to do too much at once – Utilize your team and school to help you create great curriculum maps. The entire curriculum mapping process may take several years to perfect, with continual review of your maps to ensure they meet your school’s needs. Construct maps by following a clearly outlined process such as the understanding by design stages outlined earlier rather than jumping ahead to lesson plans before fundamental priorities have been determined.

Chapter FourApproving Curriculum Maps

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