5 reasons why Curriculum Mapping is important.
As a beginning teacher (or even a seasoned pro), it can be daunting to look at the whole curriculum, wondering how you are going to teach all the things – and do it well. Let me give you 5 reasons why Curriculum Mapping is important – and help you get started on this important task.
What is Curriculum Mapping?
Essentially, is the road map to teaching. It helps teachers ensure that students get from Point A to Point B. Teachers can gain an understanding of what needs to be taught and what learning outcomes need to be addressed. Curriculum mapping also provides teachers with an understanding of what has previously been taught, and where students are heading next.
Curriculum mapping is a term used to describe the purposeful, deliberate and systems organisation of content within a year or stage. It should not be confused with lesson or unit planning. Curriculum mapping offers a long-term overview of what will be taught each year. It helps to make sure that outcomes and learning goals are aligned and complement each other from one stage to the next.
Mapping the curriculum is the simplest, yet most effective way to improve teaching and learning. It requires teachers to draw explicit connections between content, skills and assessments. Curriculum mapping helps to ensure that all aspects of a lesson are aligned not only with each other but also with mandated outcomes and assessments.
But why is it important for you, as a beginning teacher, to understand and utilise Curriculum Mapping? Here are my top 5 reasons.
1. Curriculum Mapping provides an organised path.
The curriculum sets the expectations for what students should be taught, regardless of where they live or their background. It is presented as a progression of learning, from the beginning years through to a students final years of schooling. You aren’t going to teach Kindergarten students algebra when they don’t even know their whole numbers yet? And senior high school students don’t need to be assessed on letters and sounds. The outlining of this progression allows teachers, parents, students and members of the wider community what is to be taught and when.
Essentially, the curriculum serves as a map, outlining where teachers and students begin the learning journey, where they need to go and how they will get there. In Australia, the curriculum is structured in Infants (K-2), Primary (3-6) and Secondary (7-12). Within each of these stages are further defined paths that teachers and students must use in order to progress.
Curriculum mapping is a process that allows schools and teachers to plan what is going to be taught, when it is going to be taught and how this shows the school is complying with National Standards. Curriculum maps should be created for each year level and subject in a collaborative manner. The result is a tool that provides teachers with a framework, allowing them to stay organised.
2. It ensures alignment with the standards.
While most teachers take pride in creating and delivering rigorous and engaging lessons that cater to the individual needs of their students, these lessons need to align with the outcomes. The benefit to curriculum mapping is that it improves the links between curriculum, assessment and instruction in schools.
The Curriculum sets out the focus and outcomes for what needs to be taught in a given year, and the outcomes students need to be working towards within each subject in that year. It is clear that what teachers need to teach is exactly what students should be learning. Shared goals make it easier for teachers to align their teaching and learning activities with the students’ academic needs. This also ensures students success.
As well as outlining the goals that teachers and students must work towards in a given year, the curriculum also standardises the learning focus and goals for the entire school. It provides a clear path for students to progress from one grade to another. Students must meet certain benchmarks before moving on to more advanced subjects. Having a whole school curriculum alleviates the need for teachers to create their own learning objectives and somehow coordinate with each other to ensure that their students are on track.
3. It increases communication & collaboration between staff.
A good curriculum map connects teachers from across grade levels and subject areas to look at the big picture of student learning. Teachers can work together to plan a progression of topics that build off of the ones that came before and connect across disciplines. The result? You reinforce knowledge over time and make sure that students are prepared for what’s coming next.
The Australia Curriculum is a complete document. It is an overall guide as to what needs to be taught and how the standards and outcomes are addressed. However, looking at the websites containing this information can be overwhelming and confusing. To gain an understanding of where students come from and where they are heading is important. Most teachers, however, simply don’t have the time to sit and read all that information for all the year groups! This is where Curriculum Mapping comes in.
At the beginning of each year, teachers of each year or stage should get together to clarify the year’s curriculum. It is important to discuss information and resources to ensure alignment and instructional design. Teachers should also understand and discuss the outcomes students are working towards, and identify any students who require adjustments in order to access the curriculum.
Once the core content and aligning outcomes have been identified, this information should be put into a document that is shared with all staff. It should also be placed in each teacher’s binder. This ensures that when students progress, teachers know what content and outcomes have been covered and achieved.
4. It is a map for student progress.
You know the old saying, “If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going”? (Maya Angelou). Well, the saying is true when it comes to student progress and curriculum mapping.
While curriculum mapping provides a guide for what teachers need to be teaching students in relation to the year those students are in, it also allows teachers to map students’ individual progress in relation to those concepts. For example, before learning multiplication and division, students must learn their whole numbers, then how to add and subtract these numbers from one another. If it is recognised that students have difficulty understanding the concepts one year, that information should be conveyed so that those concepts can continue to be explored the following year.
Whilst it is important for teachers to be aware of the path they must teach, it is also important that this path is made clear to students. Students need goals for what they are going to learn. Teachers must also acknowledge students as individuals, coming to school with their own unique experiences and abilities. Teachers need to ensure that the curriculum is accessible and relevant to students. Through curriculum mapping, teachers can provide evidence of differentiation and also provide information to assist one another as students progress through their schooling.
By following the curriculum, teachers can prepare students to continue on their journey the following year, and the year after and for many more years in a logical and organised manner.
5. Is a reflective practice tool.
Curriculum Mapping is a reflective process. It helps teachers understand what has been taught in a class and how learning outcomes were assessed. Curriculum Mapping also allows teachers to be reflective of what students were engaged with, what students required additional support or extension, and how improvements can be made to better meet students’ needs.
It encourages continuous improvement for both individual teachers and the school as a whole.
It is important to remember that the curriculum is not an isolated entity for a single school year. Rather, it is a giant framework of interconnecting paths that map the curriculums for each grade. We want our students to succeed as they progress through their schooling.
Want to learn more? Download my 8 Steps to Curriculum Mapping & Programming Beginning Teachers Workbook today.