How Can Teachers Ensure That Standard-based Curriculum Will Contribute to Higher Achievement?

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Use curriculum mapping to align instruction with desired goals and outcomes, to enhance student learning…

Plotting the scope and sequence or curriculum mapping is a process for collecting and recording curriculum-related data that identifies core skills and content taught, processes employed, and assessments used for each subject area and grade level. Consequently, it becomes a tool that enables teachers to track what has been taught and to plan what will be taught. 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 unnecessary redundancies, inconsistencies, 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.

Curriculum mapping encourages teachers to examine areas of a subject never seen before and discover gaps as students go through a subject area from the beginning to the end. This process allows teachers to see their role in a student’s journey through education by clearly articulating the skills students are expected to demonstrate at each grade level and tightly aligning those skills to the content presented.

Mapping a pre K–12 course enables teachers at each grade level to see how to support skills to build on the work students have done prior to their course. It also allows educators to consider when to incorporate the higher-order thinking skills necessary for students to succeed at the next level. In other words, a complete curriculum map will help teachers see the steps they will need to take to help students reach their goals in education.

Focus of Curriculum Mapping

Curriculum mapping provides the basis for authentic examination of the curriculum. It attempts to illustrate the educational activities of every classroom within the school, grade level, and content area. Subsequently, this information is organized into an easily accessible visual that represents the timeline of instruction that is followed by a teacher for a course in the school. Curriculum mapping encourages innovation and thought. It focuses on 3 C’s: Communication, Curricular dialogue and Coherency.

1. Communication

21st Century curriculum maps are most often developed and maintained using an Internet-based commercial mapping system. This technological advancement provides teachers and administrators with easy access to both the planned and actual horizontal (same grade level and/or same discipline) and vertical (different grade levels and/or different disciplines) curricula for present and past school years. The search features of the system allow teachers to gain instant information in regard to mapping data to aid in curricular dialogue.

2. Curricular Dialogue

All the teachers of the school come together to make data-based decisions about grade-level, cross-grade level, discipline, and cross-disciplinary curricula and instructional practices. Through this collegial relationship, teachers gain recognition and satisfaction and become active leaders in making curricular decisions. Allowing teachers’ time to build personal ownership in the mapping process empowers them, and ultimately improves student learning.

3. Coherency

Curricular Coherency is a combination of 21st Century communication and curricular dialogue. Many teachers are currently engaged in what is referred to as “treadmill teaching”. Breathlessly running at grade-level or content-area treadmills, trying desperately to teach everything one believes to be important for the students, is a very cumbersome process for teachers. If teachers took the time to slow down and personally document and evaluate both the planned, and most importantly, the actual learning, they may discover they are perpetuating a potentially incoherent curriculum. Curriculum mapping is designed to ask teachers to record, reflect on, study, and revise their individual and corporate work. This cyclic endeavor eventually leads a school or district to develop and maintain an aligned curriculum that makes sense to both teachers and students.

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