Post for the week of April 1, 2013
Last week, I wrote a bit about curriculum mapping. This week, I'd like to think about the most critical components.
Once your district or school or group has decided to make a curriculum map, you need to answer as many questions as you can to clarify the task. A map can be as simple or as complex as you want, but the goal is usability for everyone.
What factors about a map will never change? Time is a constant, but you can decide how your map will be organized. Do you want your map organized by quarter? Unit? Month? Week?
The standards are also a constant. While all the standards HAVE to be taught and assessed, you can decide the arrangement. Make sure you're including grade level standards, not just anchor standards.
Assessments are a crucial element of a curriculum map. How do you know if students are completing the map if you don't include some formative and summative assessments? I would argue that you have to go deeper than just midterms and finals. What other benchmarks will your district have?
In ELA you will have both texts and skills, but I would assert that the skills should be prioritized over the texts. Teaching is about building the students' skills, not getting through books and remembering facts about them.
Essential questions are a popular element of a map, but make sure all shareholders know what the purpose of the essential questions are and how they will be used.
In short, the process of writing a curriculum is a task that takes a lot of time, effort, and thought. It's a process that should not be accomplished alone.
Once you start writing a map, you may realize that your district or school has a lot to do before the process can properly start (establish common assessments and study the standards in depth, for example). But think of how great it will feel when everyone makes his/her curriculum transparent and the standards are in action!