Are students actually learning what you’re teaching? How long does it really take to work through a unit of trigonometry? What knowledge and skills have students mastered, and what are they missing? Where should they be at the end of the school year – or their entire school journey?
Knowing the answers to these questions can inform everything from what you teach to how you teach it – both within each classroom and across the whole school. But getting those answers can be difficult if you don’t have a strategy to plan student learning and measure its outcomes.
That’s where curriculum mapping shines.
In short, curriculum mapping is a process where teachers, administrators and other support staff come together to plan out learning goals for students throughout the learning journey. It sets the scope, sequence and pace of learning, aligned across grades, subjects and standards. It also provides a benchmark against which actual classroom progress can be measured as students advance to make future curriculums more effective. It’s less about how you teach, and more about what you teach and how you’ll track learning.
That covers the what – but what about the why? Let’s take a look at the short- and long-term benefits of curriculum mapping, for teachers, administrators and students.
Short-term benefits of curriculum mapping
Let’s start with the benefits we’ve seen curriculum mapping have within a single school year.
For teachers, curriculum maps help tailor learning to your students and learning goals as they progress through the curriculum by:
- Crafting a student-first curriculum, laying out what students should know coming into the classroom and what they need to know when they leave
- Making better use of student and teacher time by eliminating redundancies, inconsistencies and gaps in learning between different grade levels and subjects
- Measuring what was planned and what actually gets taught, in real-time, as each lesson progresses
For administrators, curriculum maps are a great way of getting everyone involved in learning on the same page by:
- Encouraging collaboration and communication between teachers who may otherwise not share ideas and resources
- Providing a transparent framework for teacher-to-student and administrator-to-teacher feedback and evaluation
- Ensuring all standards and learning goals are addressed by mapping them directly to each grade, subject and even unit within
For students, curriculum maps plot out a structured path of learning that moves smoothly from one level to the next by:
- Sharing what’s to come in the school year, so they know their teacher’s expectations of them as they move from unit to unit
- Making sure learning happens at a pace where they don’t become with classroom activities or left behind without learning key concepts
- Providing opportunities to revisit and revamp the curriculum based on actual student performance
Long-term benefits of curriculum mapping
Of course, the good news doesn’t stop there. The true magic of curriculum mapping happens when it becomes an established practice year-over-year in your school.
For teachers, mapping curriculums over the long-term gives you insights into how students learn and where to prioritize your teaching by:
- Granting visibility into what actually happens in your classroom – and how it changes over time as you continue mapping
- Offering a built-in opportunity for reflection, innovation and improvement about your classroom learning goals and how you achieve them
- Allowing you to better prepare lessons knowing exactly what students have learned in previous years and what they’ll be learning next
For administrators, curriculum maps, combined as a whole, set the tone for learning across the entire school by:
- Establishing the persona of your school by infusing each curriculum with your school’s priorities
- Ensuring continuity of instruction when a teacher leaves, allowing a new one to carry on with a roadmap in hand
- Creating a central pool of shared (and proven!) knowledge, activities, assessments and more that teachers can draw upon while planning lessons
For students, curriculum maps make learning more interesting, engaging and achievable during their entire learning journey by:
- Ensuring consistency in learning, gaining the same knowledge and skills no matter who is teaching the class
- Connecting past learning to future instruction in a scaffolded approach to student achievement
- Allowing for lessons tailored specifically for their needs when teachers know each student’s history of learning
Ready to map your way to a stronger curriculum?
If so, you have an exciting path ahead of you! We recommend starting with our very own complete guide to curriculum mapping. It’ll walk you through the process from start to end, from understanding why curriculum maps matter to creating, reviewing and approving your own. Or, check out how to create a curriculum map to see what goes into a great curriculum map.