Curriculum Mapping, 5 Ideas


Last week I had the opportunity to attend two days of Curriculum Mapping Boot Camp with Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs and Dr. Marie Alcock in New York City. Here are five of my takeaways:

  1. Be a critical consumer of others’ systems. Prior to the conference I had read three curriculum design books by Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs and four books by Larry Ainsworth. They’re all good! (And feel free to contact me for specific recommendations based on your wants/needs.) However, we do not want to blindly copy and paste a system into our schools. We must be critical consumers and adapt the work of others based on the needs of our students. Also, as an administrator, I cannot justify a decision/process simply because “It says so in the book!” I must be able to understand and clearly communicate the why behind our actions.
  2. It’s not about “filling in the boxes.” If the teachers with whom I am working equate curriculum mapping to completing a template, we are doing it wrong. Dr. Marie Alcock announced this sentiment repeatedly throughout the conference. We must realize the decisions we make will affect the education and lives of our students. Furthermore, by comprehending the importance of the map creation process, teachers will (1) be more likely to actually use the maps, which is not always a given, and (2) be able to explain/turnkey the process to those not directly involved.
  3. Maps should be living and breathing documents. Alright, maybe they won’t actually be able to breathe, but they should be created in a way that they can easily be updated whenever necessary by multiple users. In other words, make use of “the cloud” through programs such as Rubicon Atlas or Google Apps for Education. Educators need to know what they are accessing electronically will always be the most current version, and they will not have to cut through red tape (or wait for just the right moment) to make changes that are in the best interests of their students.
  4. Emphasize the what (content), but also the how (pedagogy). This is an idea to which I can relate, as in a previous post I quoted Dylan Wiliam, “…pedagogy is curriculum, because what matters is how things are taught, rather than what is taught.” If I’m an “ineffective teacher” when teaching the “wrong thing,” I’ll still be ineffective when teaching the same way with properly aligned content…On the second day of the conference, Dr. Jacobs emphasized the how when she presented on technology integration, makerspaces, learning spaces, and more. Also, I almost jumped out of my seat when she highlighted an edSurge article written by my colleague, Kayla Delzer (@MrsDelz).
  5. Curriculum mapping is not easy. The process in Pennsylvania was made even harder when the state reconfigured the Common Core State Standards to create the PA Core Standards. By law, 85% of the standards must be adopted, but these changes have not made our lives easier. As a result, collaborating with educators from other states is not as seamless as one would think. In my opinion, this lack of consistency negates one of the main advantages of the standards, opportunities for states to (thoughtfully) “borrow” from one another.

I look forward to experiencing how these takeaways (and everything else I learned) can ultimately benefit the students of my current school district.

Which one of these takeaways resonates with you? What are your overall thoughts on curriculum mapping? How have you made “it work” in your school or district?

Connect with Ross on his blog and on Twitter.

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