"Establishing Your School's or District's Reason to Map" is an important motivator to help anchor change and sustain it long term. We map to solve problems. Two fundamental and universal reasons for mapping are integrating assessment findings directly into our maps, and using curriculum mapping software to become the hub for housing initiatives.
In Mapping the Big Picture, Jacobs (1997) first established fundamental tasks that school personnel used to identify the problems they wished to attack. These tasks were noted in Module 1—gaining information, eliminating redundancies, analyzing gaps, validating standards, integrating curricula, updating for timeliness, and aligning for coherence. Selecting one of these tasks and making an adaptation that is needed in your school setting is the heart of establishing purpose.
We believe that a core reason to map is to view assessment data from our learners as the basis of diagnosis and the revision of curriculum maps as the basis of a responsive prescription. Medical doctors run tests on us when we have symptoms of discomfort and make a diagnosis as to the cause of the problem based on testing. With that information, they can give us a prescription to make the necessary changes for improvement. In our schools, we assess our students' performance to make a diagnosis and respond with prescriptive revisions and changes in our maps.
Certainly, one of the most helpful strategies involves the analysis of achievement data. Through the analysis of achievement data and other data in a system, a school or district can underscore the need for change. By actively involving staff in the process, mapping helps to create buy in by working collaboratively to identify the strengths and targets for growth. Together, you are able to assess what's working and what is not. Assessment data from this analysis can provide a valuable hook or entry point into the mapping process by identifying the targeted areas that need to be addressed. This self-assessment phase can help "lay the foundation" for mapping in a school or district.
Fragmentation is running rampant in our schools. Teachers find themselves drowning in a sea of initiatives. They often are implemented in isolation and teachers struggle to determine what is most important and how to manage everything. Mapping becomes a connector. If the connections are not made, mapping becomes just one more thing to do or "juggle." By creating a visual connection with the staff to show how mapping serves as a vehicle to help manage and integrate the other initiatives, it can help provide momentum for initiating the mapping process. It also can help lower anxiety and help sustain the work in other initiatives.
Setting the stage in your school or district is a critical step in the process. If staff has a clear understanding of the reasons for mapping, it helps provide the anchor needed to ensure lasting, long-term change.
Purpose and Primary Focus
Module 2 is structured to help participants establish the reasons for mapping in their school or district by identifying possible obstacles to mapping and considering possible entry or starting points in the process. Guiding questions that provide focus for this module include: So why should we map? How can we determine our school or district's readiness status? What does the school value and feel are its current strengths as it relates to curriculum? What changes, if made in the current curriculum, could strengthen it so it could have a greater impact on student performance? How could curriculum mapping serve as a vehicle to help make those changes? How does mapping connect with other initiatives currently being implemented in the school or district? and What are possible entry points into the mapping process?
Activities and Supporting Materials
To help provide a rich background for "Establishing Your School's or District's Reason to Map," we have provided a variety of activities to engage the participants in the learning process. Included are team exercises, data analysis exercises, brainstorming exercises, discussions, and small and large group work.
Participants begin by considering both future trends and the strengths and weaknesses of their current curriculum, and then move into analyzing data to validate strengths in achievement and identify targets for growth. If a school or district's achievement data are aligned to the critical skill sets, it can be a powerful tool in determining gaps and redundancies in the curriculum. Schoolwide data provide a snapshot that can be helpful in gaining a more complete picture of learning in the system. The examination of data can also affirm the need for a focused process to align all components of the system. Problems arise when the data are vague or do not align with the actual curriculum in a school. Although this experience can be frustrating too, the fact that the data are not aligned to the grade-level expectations is data in itself.
Many schools or districts are so immersed in initiatives that introducing curriculum mapping can sometimes leave the staff feeling even more anxious if there isn't a strategy in place to address their concerns. Curriculum mapping becomes "just one more thing that has to be done" or is inflicted upon them. Mapping the current initiatives in a building or district can be a helpful tool in gaining a better understanding of the magnitude of change that is currently taking place in the system. The information gleaned from mapping the initiatives and identifying the "value-added" can be used as a visual to show staff how curriculum mapping can be a hub to connect all aspects of the school improvement. It also can strengthen the case for implementing curriculum mapping.
By assessing the status of the school or district, you can glean valuable data allowing you to tailor the implementation of curriculum mapping to better meet the needs of your school or district. Thus curriculum mapping becomes a "valued-added" process instead of just another initiative invading your stakeholders' professional lives. By maintaining a "value-added" focus, you minimize the number of times you hear the age-old question: So why are we doing this?
Another common question that is frequently asked by staffs when a new initiative is undertaken in a school or district is: So where are we going with this? The fear underlying this question is the concern that what they have been doing previously is wrong. The "From … To" activity, developed by Bena Kallick, in this section can support the work that has been done previously in a school or district and can also help teachers think about how curriculum mapping can enhance the work as it relates to curriculum, instruction, assessment, professional development, and other aspects of school improvement. It also can help to ease concerns, particularly for veteran staff, by visually helping staff to see how curriculum mapping is an evolution and enhancement of previous work in those areas.
The activities suggested in this training module may be completed in the same session if time permits or may be completed in separate sessions. The activities may also be completed in conjunction with the training Module 1. Some leadership teams have opted to combine the two modules because they so closely support each other.
A question that is sometimes asked is: Should the assessment of the school's current status precede an introduction to curriculum mapping? To address this question, it is important that you know your staff so you can determine which would be the most effective entry point to begin to develop a case for implementing curriculum mapping.
To use this module, you'll need to access the following online documents, which are available to download at www.ascd.org/downloads using the unique key found on page 18.
- Module 2, Figure 1: Strengths and Changes
- Module 2, Figure 2: Data Analysis: Steps to consider
- Module 2, Figure 3: Data Analysis Questions
- Module 2, Figure 4: Puzzle Pieces Template
- Module 2, Figure 5: Implementation Entry Points
- Module 2, Figure 6: Entry Points Graphic Organizer
- Module 2, Figure 7: Obstacles and Solutions
- Module 2, Figure 8: From … To … Sample
- Module 2, Figure 9: From … To … Template
Phase 1 LAYING THE FOUNDATION
Module 2 Establishing Your School's or District's Reason to Map
- So why map?
- How can you determine your school or district's current readiness status?
- What are possible entry points to mapping?
Concept: Establishing the reasons to map in your school or district can lay the foundation for lasting change.
- Strengths and Limitations of the Current Curriculum in Your School or District
- Analysis of Assessment Data
- Current School Improvement Initiatives
- Entry Points to the Mapping Process
- Reasons to Map
- From … To
- Curriculum Mapping as a Hub
- TERMS Data Analysis, Entry Points, Hub Skills
- Identify strengths in the current curriculum and changes that would positively impact student achievement.
- Analyze school or district data to determine strengths and targets for growth.
- Connect other school or district initiatives to the curriculum mapping process.
- Identify possible entry points for the mapping process.
- Summarize the reasons for your school or district to map.
- Brainstorm possible obstacles to mapping and generate possible solutions to address those obstacles.
- Explain the evolution of curriculum, assessment, instruction, and professional development in your school or district.
- Predict how curriculum mapping could serve as a hub for school improvement.
EVIDENCE OF LEARNING
- List of strengths and changes that would enhance the curriculum generated by the group
- List of strengths and targets for growth identified by the data teams using the puzzle pieces
- Graphic organizer that identifies possible entry points for implementing curriculum mapping
- List of reasons for your school or district to map
- List of obstacles and possible solutions
- Graphic organizer "From … To" (depicting the evolution of curriculum, assessment, instruction, and PD in your school)
- Curriculum mapping as a hub organizer used to identify possible entry points for the integration of curriculum mapping
Thinking about the Future (small group exercise)
- In small groups, brainstorm five or six innovations, inventions, discoveries, or technological advancements that have occurred during the past five years that have had or will have an impact on the curriculum.
- Discuss the potential impact on the curriculum. What changes will need to be made?
- As a team, brainstorm what skills will be critical for students in the future.
- Discuss whether or not they are being addressed in the current curriculum.
- Be prepared to share an advancement and sample skills in the large group.
Strengths and Limitations (small group exercise)
- In small groups, brainstorm the current curriculum and write them on the left column of a piece of chart paper.
- Then, ask the teams to identify possible changes that if made would strengthen the curriculum for students and better prepare them for the future. Write these in the right column.
- Post all sheets in the front of the room and note similarities.
- Discuss how mapping could help to address some of the changes.
Data Teams (data analysis team exercise)
- In school teams, examine the assessment data for your school or district. You may want to look at all of the data or you may want to narrow your focus to one specific area such as reading or math. What data would give you the best picture of student performance in your school or district?
- As a data team, identify the strengths and targets for growth.
- Identify additional information that would help you have a more complete picture of learning.
- Share your findings with other teams.
- Discuss how mapping could help you address the deficit areas.
Connecting Initiatives (team exercise)
- Ask teams to brainstorm a list of current building or district initiatives. Write each initiative on one of the puzzle pieces provided.
- Then, brainstorm the value added for students by implementing that initiative and add those as bullet points under the initiative.
- After the team has completed this process for all initiatives, ask them to lay the pieces out on the table and discuss the common themes that surface.
- Next, write the term "curriculum mapping" in the center of one of the blank puzzle pieces.
- List the value added to students as bullet points under curriculum mapping.
- As a team, discuss the connections.
Identifying the Entry Points (team exercise)
- Use the graphic organizer provided in this module to map possible entry or starting points for curriculum mapping.
- Write curriculum mapping in the center oval.
- Ask the team to brainstorm possible processes or projects in which the school or district is engaged and write them on the spokes.
- Discuss possible links between curriculum mapping and these projects, processes, or initiatives. How could mapping be integrated as you continue to work in these areas?
Reasons to Map (group exercise)
- Generate a list of reasons why your schools and districts should map. What problems could mapping address?
Obstacles and Opportunities (small group exercise)
- In small groups, draw a T chart on chart paper that has been provided. Brainstorm a list of potential obstacles you will need to overcome in your school or district. Place the potential obstacles on the left side.
- On the right side, generate possible solutions.
- Share highlights in the large group.
From … To Visual Summary (team exercise)
- In the early part of the implementation process, it is helpful to develop a visual or graphic that identifies the critical components such as curriculum, assessment, instruction, and professional development and ask staff to think about how each has evolved over the past few years. (A visual is provided in the online materials.)
- In your school or district teams, write the words, "curriculum," "assessment," "instruction," and "professional development" across the top of the visual.
- In brief phrases, summarize the answers to the following questions: What was the curriculum five to eight years ago? (Put your response in the left-hand column) What is the current curriculum? (Put your response in the middle column on the same line.) If we implement curriculum mapping, what will the curriculum be? (Put your response in the right-hand column on the same line.)
- In a similar fashion, ask the team to answer the same questions as they relate to the other areas: assessment, instruction, and professional development. For each component, start a new line and respond to the same questions as you did with "curriculum This will help the team to see the evolution of each component.
Curriculum Mapping as a hub (group discussion)
- At your tables, discuss how curriculum mapping can serve as a hub for school improvement. You may find it helpful to go back to the visual you developed in "Connecting the Initiatives."
- Report your key points in the large group.
- Think about changes that have occurred in your school system that have "lasted." What was there about the support structure or implementation process that made them "stick" while other initiatives have come and gone? Bring these thoughts to the next training session.
- Generate a list of current committees in your school. How might they support curriculum mapping in their work? Bring this information to the next training session.
- Conduct a Web search and preview different types of mapping software that are available. Begin to brainstorm a set of questions you would want addressed. Bring them to the next training session.
Hale, J. (2007). A Guide to Curriculum Mapping. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Hyerle, D. (2008). Visual Tools for Transforming Information into Knowledge. Thousand Oaks, CA; Corwin Press.
Jacobs, H.H. (1997). Mapping the Big Picture: Integrating Curriculum and Assessment K–12. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Jacobs, H.H. (2004). Getting Results with Curriculum Mapping. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. Chapters 1–2.
Jacobs, H.H. (2007). Resources on Web site—www.curriculumdesigners.com
Jacobs, H.H. (in press). Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Kallick, B., and Colosimo, J. (2008) Using Curriculum Mapping and Assessment Data to Improve Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Udelhofen, S. (2005). Keys to Curriculum Mapping: Strategies and Tools to Make It Work. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Chapter 1.