By Dr. Melanie Glennon, Curriculum Coordinator and Upper School English Teacher
Teachers at York Country Day School have spent the past two years mapping, drafting, designing and reinventing curricula to create the best learning opportunities for our students. Mapping has been, and continues to be, a powerful tool for accomplishing both curriculum alignment and curriculum-focused programmatic improvement.
What is curriculum mapping? Curriculum mapping is as much a noun as it is a verb. It is a repository for curating (collecting, organizing and displaying) and maintaining our curriculum; it is a method for curricula creation and innovation (drafting & designing). A mapping system creates a digital hub to connect teachers, courses and content—ideas of old and new. And finally, curriculum mapping establishes a systematic way to review and analyze curricula for gaps and areas in need of (re)vision.
Our teachers continue to reflect upon and assess what is currently taught, why it is being taught, and how this learning is assessed. We think about our challenges and successes. Our teachers use their curriculum maps to systematically house their curricula and to connect with other classes within their discipline and beyond. Mapping creates a climate for asking questions: Does my assessment align appropriately with the objectives established? Am I teaching too much of one skill and not enough of another? Where else in my division, or within my discipline, is this skill being introduced, taught, and/or assessed?
Our initiative this year is to continue developing and entering course and content objectives, essential questions, content and assessments, and by the close of this year, to continue the process of critical self-reflection and collaboration—checking for alignment and gaps as well as for pedagogical need and restructuring. Our teachers continue to craft inquiry-driven, national standards-inspired curricula and are using a systematic approach to draft, co-create, collect, analyze and align curricula.
What did we learn this year?
The Rubicon Atlas mapping system is the tool Country Day teachers use to electronically encompass the process of curriculum mapping and enhancement.
Mapping functions as an advanced curricular tool helping our teachers design instructional units that mirror best teaching practices;
Mapping our curricula enables insightful pedagogical connections, across grades and between disciplines;
Mapping our curriculum enhances collaboration and conversation across the grades and disciplines; it promotes focused conversation around relevant information and collaborative inquiry;
Mapping encourages intentional curriculum review and growth through analytical reporting tools;
Webinars and intentional curriculum mapping time guides us in our professional development endeavors.
A Look Ahead:
Moving forward, teachers will be working on creating, searching, and sorting information about what, when, and how they are teaching and assessing learning; they will be collaborating, peer reflecting and learning through horizontal and vertical alignment task forces. There will be a lot of reflection and a lot of discussions about what Country Day students need and how we can best teach them.