Curriculum Mapping Your Content

Curriculum mapping sounds like a hard process that might require an entire professional development study session for an individual teacher, but you might be surprised to find out it is really simple – and might just take an afternoon to plan out your entire school year!

Whether you teach elementary grades or high school, art or are self-contained, common core or something else – curriculum mapping 101 allows you to spend more time on choosing your teaching strategies instead of spending that same time stressing over “fitting it all in.”

Curriculum mapping is useful for teachers who are pacing lesson plans so as not to miss something that should have been taught before annual standardized tests.

When I first started and wasn’t sure how I would get through all the grade level content that needed to be covered for the entire year.

I didn’t want to not have all the student learning covered by the end of the academic year, yet I didn’t want to not have at least introduced everything before the standardized tests rolled in either.

I knew I had to get a system in place to make sure it was all accounted for, yet flexible enough to move throughout the school year as needed and to be vertically aligned with multiple subject areas and grade levels.

What is curriculum mapping?

I thought this might be useful for the new teachers who are trying to figure out how to pace their lesson plans throughout the year so as not to miss something that should have been taught before the spring standardized tests.  I don’t know about you, but I have always used my district’s pacing guides as a starting point for deciding what lessons I would teach on what days.

While it is great to know which chapter in math I should be teaching during which weeks, I always take it a step further and have a planning calendar tool of my own that I can write in, cross off, and move around when those crazy schedule changes come up in real time!

For this particular post, my definition of a curriculum map is a physical calendar I can refer to and know what chapter AND lesson I will be teaching to my students in every subject area on any given day of the school year.  There is a sample below to see my example.

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Some school districts might already have this done for you via a pacing chart, but I have always worked in a school that simply had “guidelines” for the order of what was to be taught – not specific dates.  This time spent will ease your mind knowing you will indeed get everything covered – and have time left over to go back to those skills to reteach for mastery if needed.

You can choose to use a software program for your resource if you prefer to save on paper, but I am pretty old school when it comes to curriculum planning of any type, so I tend to stick with the good ole paper and pencil version.  Feel free to change it up to meet your needs as you like.

How to create a curriculum plan

Step One:

First, start with a plain academic year calendar template.  The boxes don’t need to be super large, but I do like to map out my Reading, Math, Science, and Social Studies on one calendar so it is all in one place.  You can find a free monthly calendar about anywhere online.

Step Two:

After printing out the entire year, I sit down with a school dates calendar and mark down days off, vacation days, early dismissals, state standards testing, parent conferences, field trips, and any additional important items I might need to be aware of as I am deciding what to teach when.

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Step Three:

Then, I take my school’s pacing chart and write down what I am supposed to teach during which weeks.  I lightly place this information in my calendar as I will be hitting it up again later as the time gets closer.

I used to plan out each chapter lesson for specific days far ahead of time, but I found out that if I was differentiating correctly, I might be able to skip something – or a harder skill could take up more time, so I added in the next step below.

Step Four:

Before beginning the new chapter, I always give a pretest from the basal (or even make up one using 1-3 of the HARDEST essential questions from each section I am slated to teach, with the pretest being able to be completed in ONE class period).

Some people feel this is a waste of an entire teaching day, but I find I can usually modify my lesson planning map to skip something based on the results of the pretest and also be able to pull small groups by ability levels very easily by knowing what each student already knows about the upcoming work.

Curriculum mapping is useful for teachers who are pacing lesson plans so as not to miss something that should have been taught before annual standardized tests.

Step Five:

After quickly grading the pretests, I then item analyze the results and if 80% of the class received correct answers on a certain lesson in the chapter, we can skip that (knowing which students I will need to work with in small groups on those same skills who did not understand them).

Now I know which lessons still need to be taught and which can be skipped (sometimes you don’t get to skip, but you might be surprised as to which students actually know more than you thought about different subject areas).

Step Six:

Last – I start adding the specific chapter lessons into my calendar so that when I sit down to do lesson plans, I already know exactly which lesson and standard I will be teaching.  Makes it so much easier for easing my worry about whether I will cover everything in time for the spring testing season, and I can take time where time is a little more flexible.

I keep all my calendars together in a sheet protector, which then hangs from an o-ring on my lesson planning crate so it is always easily accessible!

Curriculum mapping is useful for teachers who are pacing lesson plans so as not to miss something that should have been taught before annual standardized tests.

How do you plan ahead for the year to know that you will hit everything in time?  What resources do you prefer?  We love more ideas from veterans too and thanks in advance for sharing!

~Charity

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