By Kelly Reilly
Over the past two and a half years HTLS has gone through a process of building our curriculum through the use of Curriculum Maps. So what are curriculum maps and what does that mean for your student? In order to understand curriculum maps, you must understand that curriculum is more than the textbooks the school has chosen. Textbooks are used as a guide to ensure that all educational standards are met, but the curriculum process also involves how the teachers choose to implement the topics and the steps they take to modify and adapt lessons to meet the students’ needs.
Imagine you are on a road trip from Florida to Los Angeles. To plan your route, you need to know your starting point and ending point, but you will also have some points marked along the way that you know you want to check out. You may even try and map out your stops along the way for breaks. The same goes for a curriculum map. Our teachers have maps in each subject area to show where the class is starting, where they will end up by the end of the year, what they are going to see (units, topics, themes), and where they will make “pit stops”.
There are many advantages to mapping out curriculum. Here are just a few:
- To continue the road trip analogy, trips don’t always go as planned. Sometimes roads are closed, there are traffic jams, or you may just want to take the scenic route. Because the teachers have their school year journey planned with the end goal in mind, they are able to veer off throughout the year to adjust to the class or individual student’s needs. For example, if a class is struggling with a new math concept, the teachers can make a “pit stop” to re-teach and re-group before moving on. This stop does not affect the end destination because they know where they are heading.
- Knowing the target goal of each lesson and topic allows the teachers to determine how they want to teach. Perhaps they have found a better way of communicating the concept of diagramming sentences than what is given in the textbook. The maps encourage teachers to go for it! Use another road because you know you will still get to the same destination.
- Curriculum maps encourage and enhance teacher collaboration. With the overview of the year in front of them, teachers can see where topics and themes line up across grade levels, so they can work on planning together.
- Curriculum maps help to shift the questions teachers ask when they are planning from “what to teach” to “how to teach”. Classroom instruction then becomes more personalized and pointed, which enriches the student’s experience and utilizes the teacher’s strengths.
So buckle up passengers, we’re ready for an incredible road trip this year!