Curriculum mapping is a concept that has been around for a while now, and has merit to it. The process of asking teachers to look at curriculum-related data based on what they have taught throughout a year, and then map out a plan for the next year is a great exercise. Additionally, teachers coming together to see where there are gaps and overlaps from year to year is also a worthwhile discussion. This discussion can lead to tighter connections being made between classes from year to year. That being said, this is an approach that stems from the bottom up, meaning that it is not driven by a united school vision; it is driven by each individual teacher’s perspective and interpretation, which can lead to conflict and staff being misaligned. Teachers also usually confer with the grade above and the grade below, which is great; however, it is also important that everyone see the big picture – the curriculums as they run throughout the entire school. Moreover, during this process, it is possible that specialist teachers are left out of mainstream teacher discussions, and there may be areas of overlap between them that are not being addressed. What is the solution? Designing an educational framework beforehand.
The creation of an educational framework before beginning the curriculum mapping process will achieve the desired result of eliminating redundancies and gaps in curriculums; however, the process of curriculum mapping will begin from a different starting point – top down instead of bottom up. With an educational framework in place first, curriculums will be looked at, but not before administration has decided on a clear vision for the school. Once the vision has been decided upon, the educational framework which the curriculums will plug into will need to be designed, as seen in diagrams of the Transitional Framework below:
The above diagram is the educational framework that was designed for the government of Papua, and its purpose was to implement a 14-week program to help Papuan high school students with limited English smoothly transition to a university abroad. This was designed by looking at how curriculums connected in a broad sense, and matching them to our end-goals – it was our plan of action.
Once the framework was completed, work with the individual teachers and professors could begin, and we were able to design curriculums that connected each subject area without gaps, as seen in the flower diagram above that illustrates the general information plugged into each of the petals and the stem during week 4 of the program. Individualized planners for each staff member were also designed based on this diagram for the purpose of detailed planning and curriculum mapping. This example illustrates a 14-week program; however, the same results could be achieved school wide across all disciplines and grade levels, providing vertical, horizontal, subject-area and interdisciplinary coherence, as seen in the Language Framework.
Curriculum mapping is essential at schools; what we as educators must rethink is the approach being taken. It is far easier to achieve staff cohesion when starting from a central, common vision and educational framework (plan of action) provided by the school than it is to work from individual thoughts and opinions of data that occurred a year prior, and then attempt to weave them together to achieve an uncertain end goal.
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