Why Curriculum Map?
Curriculum mapping is a process that enables districts to gather data on what is actually being taught and what students are actually learning. The result of this process is a curriculum map which teachers can use as a tool to stay organized and as a framework for daily lesson planning. Curriculum maps are created for each subject and grade level.
Curriculum mapping is not a spectator sport. It demands teachers’ ongoing preparation and active participation. There must also be continual support from administrators who have a clear understanding and insight into the intricacies of the mapping process. — J.A. Hale, 2008
A curriculum map for a subject consists of a collection of unit plans that align to a set of the content standards. The unit plans define the scope of the content being covered by considering the desired learning outcomes. The unit plans are also tied to a defined sequence based on the appropriate scaffolding of the content standards. This is commonly referred to as the ‘scope and sequence’ document.
Effective curriculum is planned backward from long-term, desired results through a three-stage design process (Desired Results, Evidence, and Learning Plan). This process helps avoid common problems such as treating the textbook as the curriculum rather than a resource, or activity-oriented teaching in which no clear priorities and purposes are apparent.
The greatest benefit to curriculum mapping is its ability to improve the links between curriculum, assessment, and instruction in schools. Most teachers take pride in creating and delivering lessons that engage and educate their students, but they must also consider how their work aligns with state or provincial standards. Curriculum mapping supports teachers’ efforts to track how many of the required standards, content and skills have been addressed and what remains to be covered.
Teachers are already analyzing, synthesizing, and organizing their curriculum, to find gaps and repetitions in how standards are actually carried out. A curriculum map built for the teachers would ease this process and allow them to go more in depth. With this in mind, teachers can begin to formulate their own cross-curricular connections between subject matter and enhance an interdisciplinary approach to learning.
Teachers take pride in delivering lessons that engage their students, but they must also consider how their work aligns with standards.
Curriculum mapping results in changing the instructional focus towards the deeper understanding beyond basic content acquisition. Curriculum mapping is a learning process for the teacher and helps them take ownership of the curriculum.
Good curriculum maps at a district follow a common format that enables educators to have conversations around effective teaching and increase transparency across grade levels and subject areas.
How do curriculum maps help teachers?
The purpose of a curriculum map is to document the relationship between every component of the curriculum. Used as an analysis, communication, and planning tool, a curriculum map:
- Allows educators to review the curriculum to check for redundancies, inconsistencies, misalignments, weaknesses, and gaps
- Documents the relationships between the required components of the curriculum and the intended student learning outcomes
- Helps identify opportunities for integration among disciplines
- Provides a review of assessment methods
- Identifies what students have learned, allowing educators to focus on building on previous knowledge
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.
Balancing Content Across Grade Levels
Teachers and administrators gain the opportunity to look into each class and understand what students actually learn. This information is used to identify redundancies or gaps in the course content. This also helps teachers and administrators assess the structure of the course, and the plan of when specific lessons or concepts are taught.
Aligning to Standards
This goes back to the horizontal alignment mentioned earlier. If there are 3 different Grade 9 Math classes at the school or district, each class will cover the same amount of content, and receive the same quality of instruction.
Other methods of curriculum development do not necessarily require constant updates in the same way. Curriculum mapping aims to ensure that assessments and other methods of evaluating learning progress are based on what has actually been taught to students. This is most easily achieved when teachers are actively recording what they’ve done and what they will do next.
Curriculum mapping aims to ensure that assessments and other methods of evaluating learning progress are based on what has actually been taught to students.
Curriculum mapping also provides an easy link to learning standards that the students are expected to meet in a particular course, subject area, or grade level. Vertical alignment is achieved, as educators are able to see if students enter the grade level with the skills required, and leave the grade prepared for the requirements of the next grade.
Recording Throughout the Term
Prior to the beginning of the term, curriculum maps should be developed that plan curriculum at the individual, school, or district level. As a teacher, you may or may not have been involved in the original curriculum mapping process. However, the responsibility is now in your hands to keep track of your progression through the curriculum.
Curriculum mapping is not a spectator sport. It demands teachers’ ongoing preparation and active participation. These maps should be referenced as part of your regular lesson planning process. This allows for an idea of what really took place in individual classrooms versus what was originally planned.
The content that has been taught, and the strategies used to teach that content, should be measured in real time. This can be recorded by months or by grading periods. It is recommended that data is recorded at least once a month in order to ensure that important details are not missed.
Curriculum Maps Are Never “Done”
As teachers are continually adding more information to curriculum maps, they are never actually finished. The notes added by the teacher each year address how varied student needs were accommodated within a lesson plan. Curriculum maps undergo ongoing development, in order to improve student learning and content quality across schools.
As long as teachers have new students, new classes, and new school years, the content and structure should be continually assessed and revised. This ensures that students get the most out of their education, and helps teachers to use the most effective strategies in their lessons. Curriculum mapping should create and maintain an ongoing, collaborative curriculum environment.
Curriculum maps undergo ongoing development, seeking to improve student learning and content quality across schools.
Curriculum maps should be viewable by all teachers and administrators within a school or district, ideally on a secure server that can be accessed through the internet. Administrators should have a clear understanding of the intricacies of the mapping process and must provide continual support to teachers. They will conduct the curriculum review process, allowing changes to be planned for the following year.
Administrators at all levels should understand that curriculum mapping is a complex process with many moving parts. It must be well planned and executed until all teachers are involved. If curriculum mapping is not carried out in this manner, there is a good chance that curriculum mapping will fail or have to be restarted.
Benefits of Using a Curriculum Map
- Teachers gain a more thorough understanding of the curriculum by associating learning goals to the standards, resulting in improved practice.
- Teachers feel more comfortable contributing to the curriculum taught in their classroom, reducing their reliance on textbooks.
- Enables a better understanding of how you can build on what your students already know while minimizing gaps and repetition in the district wide curriculum.
- Educators gain greater insight into curriculum structures, student progress throughout the discipline, and awareness of curricular content.
- With online tools that aid transparency across a district, curriculum maps become the vehicle to enhance interdisciplinary teaching strategies, knowledge sharing and resource across the districts.
- More efficiently collect data about the operational curriculum and further increase transparency to stakeholders.
Chapter TwoCreating a Curriculum Map