It is important for school districts looking to align curricula with standards to have documentation accurately describing what is being taught. A curriculum map allows teachers to compare their curriculum of what is actually being taught with others who teach the same grade or subject. “As teachers analyze maps within and across grades, they share examples of creative teaching strategies, fill the gaps in standards-based instruction, eliminate any unnecessary repetitions, and make other adjustments in instruction and classroom assessment to bring the curriculum into alignment with district benchmarks and state standards” (Overview of Curriculum mapping).
Curriculum mapping is the process of recording the content and skills that are actually being taught in a classroom, school, or district for the whole school year (Jacobs, 1997). It can be used as both an instrument and a procedure for determining what a curriculum is and monitoring the panned curriculum (Overview of Curriculum mapping). Curriculum mapping can be done using a calendar as an organizer by teachers describing the academic year’s curriculum in monthly or grading periods as it is taught. The result is a map of the content, skills, and assessments of the classroom. Combining all of the K-12 maps will provide a view of curriculum, instruction and assessment grade-to-grade (horizontal) and of all the courses of each grade (vertical) (Jacobs, 1997). This also allows teachers to identify potential areas for integration and reinforcement of learning across the curriculum.
The Teaching/Learning Mapping Strategy (TLMS) process “enables districts and schools to attain five goals: (1) align curriculum, instruction, and assessment with state or national standards and assessments, (2) enrich instructional practice, (3) increase understanding of results-oriented teaching, (4) improve teacher communication and collaboration, and (5) increase student achievement” (Overview of Curriculum mapping). All of which are beneficial for teachers, students, schools and districts.
Furthermore, sharing curriculum maps with parents and students may be beneficial. It allows parents to be prepared what is expected of their children, inform them more about the curriculum offered if they are new to the district, and allow for parents to ask questions and assist their children at home. Some parents may be able to offer additional resources on topics areas being studied. As for the students, having access to curriculum maps inform what is expected of them in the classroom, and stimulate curiosity of what will be taught, preparing themselves for the lessons that will take place.
A systematic approach is essential for four reasons: “(1) To ensure continuity, instruction within a school and among schools. (2) To ensure progressive skill development among schools through continuity of instruction. (3) To maximize the use of student time, avoid unnecessary instructional overlaps, prevents gaps, and thereby minimize boredom and ensure mastery of curriculum. (4) To provide a strong barrier against the problem of concentrating on one school or level of schools at the expense of the total system” (Hoyle, English, & Steffy, 1994, p. 84). If a systematic approach is not taken, any of these four points can take a turn as a drawback. Curriculum mapping must be done collaboratively, and requires the time and cooperation of others. Curriculum mapping is not a “quick fix.” For a time the teachers will be students during the leaning process of curriculum mapping; some will learn faster than others, and some may need additional support.
Hoyle, J. R., English, F. W., & Steffy, B. E. (1994). Skills for successful school leaders, 2nd edition. Arlington, VA: American Association of School Administrators.
Jacobs, H. H. (1997). Mapping the big picture: Integrating curriculum and assessment K–12. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Overview of Curriculum Mapping (2001). Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. http://faculty.njcu.edu/mmaye/EDLDPLAN/cm_overview.pdf