TTEE2 Hot Topic Email Discussion
I know it is sometimes overwhelming all the responsibilities that every teacher has beyond instruction and evaluation. There is all that PLANNING! And now that you are being asked to share your planning through the Curriculum Mapper, it can seem like such a daunting task that it is easy to lose sight of the importance of authentic curriculum mapping!
Those of you that may be involved with your school improvement or district improvement teams will be learning about the new system that Illinois has implemented to bring more meaning and validity to the process. They have identified many key components that are common in schools and districts that are succeeding. They provide improvement teams with the research behind these components in something called “WiseWays.” The committees will be reviewing these indicators and determining where each school and the district is with each indicator and then setting goals for the district based on the indicators. It is not surprising that curriculum alignment and comprehensive curriculum guides (maps) are identified as being beneficial to the high achieving schools and districts.
After reviewing the research, please take a few minutes to contribute to a brainstorm list of the many benefits of curriculum mapping.
How do you think mapping benefits the student? The teacher?
Are there benefits that are common to the teacher and student?
How does the district benefit?
How can a parent benefit?
I have always felt the most positive aspect of curr. mapping is to find what areas are being taught "to death" and which topics are being overlooked. Likewise I think it presents to us all where we are lacking.
With the Common Core Standards here I need to think more about the depth of skills I'm getting the students involved in. And, to be quite honest, I don't know how to use the reports to get the most benefit. Fortunately I have a member of the core committee that is in my pod. We were able to use her insight over the summer.
It still overwhelms me and I've been teaching 26 years. I can't imagine how it's going for the mentees.
Hang in there!
After reviewing the research provided, I think the steps we have taken with the Curriculum Mapper and Instructional Planner have been positive ones. It allows us as teachers to more plainly see how our teaching aligns with the standards, what we are actually teaching, and whether our assessments are appropriate. It makes us more accountable to our students, parents, administration, and most importantly to ourselves. As a high school social studies teacher that does not have anyone else in the district with which to collaborate, the only person that really knows what I'm doing on a daily basis is myself. The Curriculum Mapper and Instructional Planner help me to stay focused on my objectives and help me monitor what and how I'm teaching.
My only problem with the research was the statement that, "The high-performing school districts studied became more explicit about what was to be taught using skills and knowledge included on state assessments as guides, all of which resulted in more standardization across schools." I agree that standardization across schools is a good approach, but I still have problems with explicitly using state assessments to guide your curriculum. I know it's the state of education today, but maybe it's just because social studies isn't tested that I believe there is value in shaping curriculum that isn't explicitly geared towards a standardized test.
Greenville High School
U.S. History Teacher
Varsity Soccer Head Coach
"Wisdom is the power that enables us to use knowledge for the benefit of ourselves and others." -Thomas J. Watson
I have to agree with Jane when it comes to thinking more about the depth of skills that Common Core calls for. The units are more focused on key targets, sometimes its hard not to branch out in different directions.
One thing that stood out to me in the WiseWays articles was when it said, "Such a shift ensures everyone - in all schools- is aiming in the same direction." Curriculum Mapping is headed to a more uniform concept. This approach is going to be beneficial for many districts like ours that have students moving in and out. They will be able to move from one school to another and be able to pick up in generally the same spot. This will help close some of the gaps, thus helping the district and the teachers knowledge of the student's knowledge background.
5th Grade Teacher
Greenville Elementary School
Last year was a struggle trying to be a first year teacher, teach to the new Common Core standards AND mapping it all! This year I have the seen the positive results of all that hard work. At the end of last year, our Kindergarten team at GES looked at what was taught and we were able to assess what needed to be improved and what was already working. I also like the "Reflection" section this year since those notes proved to make the lesson this year more effective. Overall, it was time consuming but the data can be used to make our students succeed in each grade level.
As a parent, I like Mr. Young's statement that sometimes districts focus too much on State Assessments to guide cirriculum. I am proud that my three teenage sons have teachers in our district that teach "outside the box" and make them "Renaissance Men".
GES Kindergarten Teacher
I agree with the comments about Curriculum mapper being overwhelming. It drives me nuts at times but then there are some benefits to it. I look at the standards for Common Core more now than I probably would have. I like understanding and knowing what standards I need to still hit and what I have. Although, I still get very confused on how to use the tool to its full potential.
HAVE A GREAT DAY!
Greenville Elementary School
I agree with what Sarah said about being more familiar with the Common Core standards. I know exactly what I am aiming for, what I need to teach more of, and I also can see the error in what I did in previous years that was just extra "fluff" stuff but not beneficial in the end. Using the Curriculum Mapper as a guide while I look at the common core that must be taught is really helping drive my instruction. It can be time consuming, but I do really appreciate seeing how my plans and common core standards are aligning.
1st Grade Teacher
I believe that curriculum mapping is imperative because it provides beneficial information to new staff, while organizing material for current staff. Which in the long run makes transitioning to new teaching settings and keeping track of previously taught material easier. This will benefit students as they move along through classrooms and grades. The district will then be able to access and acknowledge what is being taught in their classrooms.
I see curriculum mapping as a lot like going through the National Board Certification process. Both processes allowed me to reflect on my own teaching, discover how and when I'm meeting standards and student needs, and what works and what doesn't in the classroom. Curriculum mapping my area of content has helped me to refine my total teaching process. This is a plus for the students, parents, district, and for me! It is definitely a daunting task, but well worth the results.
Terri, Social Studies Teacher
Greenville Jr. High
I, like many, have struggled with the time involved in this process. However, I have found that, just like mentoring has forced me to think about how I teach, the Instructional Planner has forced me to think about what I teach. I am forced to analyze why I teach certain things, why I might to eliminate certain units which are my favorites, but are not dealing with Common Core. I think it is important, most of all, that we have a unified direction for our curriculum in each subject area. I think this process will also be a great tool in plugging up the gaps and trimming the duplication, when necessary. Overall, our district and kids will benefit with this basic uniformity. I think that parents, when looking at our district as a potential home, will be able to see a written, mapped out curriculum. If new cars have written brochures with all of their features, why don't we have that for all our subjects and grades?
I think one of the hardest pills to swallow about the mapping process is that so many of us have been through these type of systematic processes in education before, only to have to try a new process to do the exact same thing. We have to be positive, as everyone has, that this is for us and for the students. We have to really buy into this and how helpful it will be in the future.
8th Grade Science
Greenville Junior High
Instructional planner has placed me into the position where I have to break down my lessons, link them to a standard and analyze what I am and am not teaching. This process is rather time consuming but I feel like my students have benefited because I have become much more organized in my planning. I also feel like my students and I are more on the same page when it comes to scheduling of the week's lessons. My students seem to perform more efficiently when they have a better vision as to where they are going.
As a PE teacher, our standards have not yet switched over to the common core standards but I do use curriculum mapper to see what standards I've taught and what standards I still need to teach. However, I agree with Sarah about not knowing how to use the tool to its full potential. I don't explore the tool like I should bc I feel like I'm always trying to make sure I have everything I'm supposed to in it for my lesson which like everyone has said is time consuming. So I need to learn more about the tool but also I'm unsure if I'm entering my data correctly. I hear from other teachers how they are entering it, but sometimes it's different than how I am entering mine so I feel as if there is still some confusion with that. I can see the how this will be beneficial for teachers and students to figure out where the gaps are.
Physical Education Teacher
Greenville Elementary School
As Allison said, our P.E. standards have not switched over to common core standards, but I do use our past state and national standards as my benchmark as a teacher. I do like curriculum mapper for the ability to double check myself and see that I am covering my standards. It has helped me become more prepared and organized each day. I do wish that I knew more about the program and what exactly I am supposed to be entering. As others have said, I still am confused on exactly what is expected to be entered on a daily basis. I do like the ability to align my curriculum with others in the district and I think the more I use it the more comfortable I will become.
P.E. Teacher Sorento/Pocahontas
Pocahontas Boys Basketball Coach
Greenville Jr. High Track Coach
I am in total agreement with Gina- I have made no secret of the fact that I am on board with what BCCU#2 has decided to do with curriculum mapper, and I have been reminding my colleagues that this is a process; the data gathering is always a painful and sometimes very tedious method by which we must achieve our end goal. Yes, we must remain positive, but I believe we have reason to do so because we have the follow-through of our Board and our administrators on this particular initiative.
Having said that, I see two major challenges to our district after we finish gathering data:
1. What we do with the data going forward will shape our entire district from Pre K-12. We will likely have to make difficult decisions on our curriculum that we were not expecting to make; these decisions will have a substantial impact on every aspect of teaching and learning at every level.
2. We will have to raise the level of expecations for our students, while being mindful of those who will exceed the raised expecations and those who will not meet them. Students, by and large, will rise to the level at which you expect them to succeed.
My hope remains that we can, as a district, meet and surpass these challenges among others that are likely to come forward
I absolutely agree that the implementation of Curriculum Mapper is beneficial to teachers and students. Just like any other change, It is difficult to understand the full rewards and challenges until you take the time to work through the kinks. I am being honest when I say it frustrates me at times, but the only reason it does is because I don't understand all of those rewards or how to utilize the tools to get the full impact of what I've done. Everything about the Mapper makes complete sense. We, as teachers, should be reflecting on what he have taught to students and what needs more of our focus. Curriculum Mapper gives us that chance, I just need to take the time to learn about everything it has to offer.
I agree, as well, that Curriculum Mapper is beneficial for teachers. It has helped me make those connections with Common Core and State Standards with my lessons. I also like how I am able to reflect on my lessons using the mapper. It will take some time to get used to but I feel it will really benefit me in the long run.
I am 100% on board with what our district is doing with Curriculum Mapper. It's extremely time consuming, but it will be worth it in the long run. I am really excited to see exactly where our district is at with meeting the new Common Core standards. More specifically in math, where the standards are very different. Topics will need to be taught at different grades and in different ways. My hope is that through Mapper we can be completely confident in knowing we are teaching the right topics at the right time, which will help our district become much stronger.
Whether Common Core or Illinois Learning Standards, I have always felt they are the key components to a well rounded curriculum. They're the foundation that guides your daily lesson plans and thematic units. Curriculum Mapper is a wonderful tracking tool to compliment and validate those standards taught. I'm a visual and tactile learner so entering my lessons into Curriculum Mapper allows me to really analyze and fine tune them. It's very time consuming, but the benefits are well worth the effort.
Heidi Hayes Jacobs
If you are looking for further information on the mapping process, check out the writing of Heidi Hayes Jacob. She is the grand mama of Curriculum Mapping. http://www.curriculum21.com/