At one point in every teacher’s career, they have come to a point where they just feel lost. Their goals seem unattainable, state and district standards are looming overhead and it feels like you are lost and adrift in the ocean. Lessons seem fragmented and like they aren’t building on each other and the kids seem to be just as lost as their instructor. While the initial reaction might be to cry and think that you aren’t cut out to be an educator, don’t! Almost everyone feels this way at some point in their career and the easiest way to find the promised land is to get a curriculum map!
The Importance of Curriculum Mapping
Curriculum mapping is one of the most important skills that a teacher has in their non-teaching arsenal. Many think that the work inside of the classroom is the hard part, but oftentimes that is because preparations haven’t been made outside of the classroom. Before the school year even begins, it is imperative to sit down and plan out your year. Try to answer the following questions ahead of time:
- What are my big units?
- What do I want the students to learn in each unit?
- How much homework should I give?
- How much time should I give for instruction?
- How much time should be devoted to working on skills in class?
- What should the test and quiz schedule look like?
- Are there going to be any big projects?
By asking these questions ahead of time an educator can start to form a plan before a child even steps foot in the classroom. Ask any veteran teacher their biggest piece of advice and chances are many will answer with, “be proactive, not reactive”.
Where to Even Begin
Once the big questions above are answered, many wonder where to even go from there. Curriculum mapping can seem like such a daunting task. After all, you are planning out what you are going to do for the whole year right? While the process seems daunting your goal isn’t to account for every minute in the entire school year! For the average teacher that would be planning out 78,120 instructional minutes! The goal with curriculum mapping is to help you plan the following:
- What units you want to teach.
- What the main idea behind each unit is.
- What you will use to test student knowledge at the end of units.
- Is that a project?
- Is that a presentation?
- Is that a test?
- What you will use to check for understanding along the way.
With your big pieces placed out it is easy to check the progression and flow of your instruction and to make sure that you have a clear goal for each big unit and have thought out why you are doing the things you are beforehand,
Ready? Use a Blank Curriculum Map Template
Don’t feel like you need to create everything from scratch! There are a myriad of resources created for teachers, by teachers, that can be extremely helpful. A blank curriculum map template can be useful in helping to guide someone through the curriculum mapping process.