Here you will find a clear description of what curriculum maps are and how to think about structuring these to support meeting your institutional goals.
What is a Curriculum Map?
A Curriculum Map is a combination of resources structured into sequenced units of instruction. Each unit of instruction can consist of many components including, but not limited to:
- A suggested timeline to completion (i.e. 3-4 weeks)
- An area of focus (i.e. Big Idea / Theme)
- Identified Skills that will be learned by completing this unit (i.e. Skills & Knowledge)
- Alignment to standards/expectations (i.e. Common Core State Standards, independently developed learning objectives)
- Instructional resources (i.e. small group activities, project themes, etc.)
- Check for understanding (i.e. Formative and Summative assessments)
The goal of a Curriculum Map is to provide an organized scope and sequence to support teaching a specific subject matter over a specified period of time.
For example, if a high school has a biology course offering then there would be a Curriculum Map labelled “Grade 11 Biology” that would provide the resources necessary to effectively plan for the instruction of this course.
The number of maps and their scope should tightly align with how teachers will be teaching this content throughout the school year.
As decisions are being made on how to break down Curriculum Maps consider how teachers would use the content, if you’re not sure - involve them in the process!
What is a Unit Template?
As mentioned above a curriculum map consists of many units of instruction. Each of these units will follow a specified template which provides a structure to organize curricular resources. Having a unified template is an essential part of developing effective curriculum. Without having a structure to guide the creation of a unit of instruction, it leaves too much room for error in missing key components that make for an effective unit.
Here are some questions to consider when developing a unit template:
- What is in general true of good design, regardless of the course content or style of the teacher?
- Are these based on a specific school of thought? If so are we using language that will be easily understood by our audience?
- Is the template detailed enough to encompass all required resources?
- Is the template simple enough to actually be utilized in developing daily instruction without being overwhelming?
- How does it align with how teachers are planning their daily instruction?
Having a unified template also supports the sharing of resources and can lead to further collaboration. It keeps everyone on the same page when group-driven activities are undertaken. This goes a long way to ensuring that they are communicated, and utilized, in an effective way.
An important takeaway here is that communication is key. All the work in the world can be put into developing a very in-depth, effective unit of instruction. If, however, considerations haven’t been made to ensure it’s legible and usable by the teachers that will actually be implementing this instruction then it can prove a fruitless exercise.
With this in mind it is highly recommended to develop one unit template that will be applicable to all curriculum maps developed in your institution.
In our next section we’ll go through the specific components available to build your unit template. We’ll also provide a helpful checklist to help in building an effective unit template that aligns with what we just outlined.
Click here for Lesson 3: How do I design my Institution's Unit Template!