Curriculum Mapping

I first heard of Curriculum Mapping during student teaching, but it was one of those things that sounded great but means nothing until you really get more into actual teaching and planning. Even then, when concerned with just your class(es) it sounds great but the full scope of issues – interconnectedness of standards, big ideas, etc aren’t relevant. Essentially it’s seeing your entire unit or year in a way that is visible and shared with others in your school/department/district.

Around 2012-2013 I was working hard to redesign curriculum at Computech Middle School to address Common Core Standards and getting my Masters Degree. As part of the Masters Degree project we had to do a simple exercise to count how many days we actually taught throughout the year – take out test days, holidays, etc.

Once I had that template in a spreadsheet, I just kept adding and got this spreadsheet:

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Admittedly I didn’t know it was going to be a whole year thing when I started it and did the best that a spreadsheet could, but I saw the power of mapping and in some ways using mostly OER materials to teach.

Why is Curriculum Mapping So Important?

This is the year that Open Educational Resources(OER) are finally getting noticed in K12. Everyone is talking about the need to be able to reuse and remix them… and a ton of companies including my own are working on how to find them. But teachers themselves are often then grabbing for isolated instances instead of cohesive resources on a unit level. (Advertisement of Free Stuff: OpenEd collects and organizes student-facing learning resources and assessments in “Lesson Plans“). I loved this graphic the other day from Andrew Stadel talking about his classroom lesson time:

and thought about its application across a course or even a students entire K-12 career. While vertical articulation is the purpose of most curriculum departments, that kind of conversation often fails to include what is happening on the daily classroom instruction tied to those overarching goals. Or worse – holds back more authentic learning because of the schedule of district quarterly benchmark tests.  I am an “Understanding By Design,” schooled educator, so have a lot to say about teaching what amounts to a formative assessment. Not sure what to do about it, but activities having students map out their own year of learning would be an interesting project to see what they think they’re doing and what they actually remember.

Ways to Go About It

The best freemium curriculum planning tool I’ve seen is CommonCurriculum.com . It allows for long-view, monthly weekly and daily view, attach standards and the teacher resources as well as collaboration and sharing – including copying the whole map for the following year to allow modification. (Video demo not done by me)

If you want to use google spreadsheet, it does have some advantages:

    1. Anyone can collaborate but you can track changes easily with Revision History
    2. You can see the whole year and hide parts you don’t need to see
    3. Color coding is nice (in retrospect) because you could see where your performance tasks are etc.
    4. Embed results/examples (If using google classroom etc) from your performance tasks/formative assessments as links underneath certain activities to be able to remember how students did and adapt for the upcoming year.
    5. Check for broken links in your documents automatically and fix them. (Chrome Extension)
    6. To put a link in a Google spreadsheet you have just enter:    =hyperlink("URL","Description")   with the quotes!
    7. I would start with your number of days, distractions, then tasks (and of course heartily recommend as much as possible Geoff Krall’s PrBL maps).
    8. Formative assessment should be planned (that’s a whole other post!) ahead of time as well with modifications the day of for the best information from your students.

Of course, the best thing to do would be to have something like Common Curriculum integrated into an LMS as an add-on so it would work on all LMS’s and be able to then assign the student resources AND have the teacher resources all in one place. Good teaching is always preceded by good planning.

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