In past articles I have spoken about the need for individualized planners, shared some samples, and talked about the impact they have on student learning, but I have yet to explore how planners can serve to assist the process of curriculum mapping. In order to understand the role that planners play, one must first look at the Educational Framework they connect to. Today’s article will focus on the Transitional Framework below and its accompanying planners.
I designed the Transitional Framework for the Papuan government with the aim of transitioning high school students with limited English to attending university in America or other English-speaking country. These students would be coming from villages, and in addition to learning both conversational and academic English, they would need to learn about American culture, life skills such as shopping and navigating a city, library/research skills and basic technology skills, since most of them would have never seen a computer, smart phone, etc. The petals and stem represent the individual courses offered, and the center is the week by week overview of all the curriculums over the course of 14 weeks. Once completed, this diagram of the Transitional Framework enabled me to begin shaping the individualized planners and made it possible for the team to begin the curriculum mapping process which started with the Overview of All Curriculums below.
PHASE 1 OF THE CURRICULUM MAPPING PROCESS
a) Overview of All Curriculums
This Overview of All Curriculums is an essential element of the Transitional Framework as it ensures that throughout the 14-week period the tightest connections are being made between each subject area and that no gaps in content exist. In order to complete this document, every staff member involved had to first map out their curriculum and pull out what would be most relevant to students. From there, concepts had to be re-ordered and placed so that on a week-to-week basis, the curriculums would be as cohesive as possible.
PHASE 2 OF THE CURRICULUM MAPPING PROCESS
The next step in the process was to provide each professor and English teacher with their own version of the Overview of All Curriculums, and then from there have them complete detailed long range planners outlining outcomes and objectives that would be met over the course of 14 weeks, based on the overviews.
a) Curriculum Overviews for Courses Offered in Bahasa Indonesia
As seen in the above samples, each professor who would be teaching a class in Bahasa Indonesia was provided with their own version of the Overview of All Curriculums tailored specifically to how they needed to view the information.
American Studies: This overview outlined the course content over 14 weeks and also displayed what would be covered in the Computers course. This allowed the professor to think of ways they could connect their course to technology – for example once the students had been introduced to Microsoft Word, the American Studies professor could have their students type out a project.
Communication: Similar to the American Studies overview, the Communication curriculum overview not only provided the professor with a program outline over 14 weeks, but also indicated what would be covered during the Computers course on a weekly basis.
Computers: The Computers curriculum overview was designed slightly differently and in addition to displaying what would be covered in the course, it also showed what was happening in all other classes because although the main purpose of the course was to teach technology skills, the professor could be linking other subjects into their lessons on a daily basis. For example, while teaching their students basic Internet skills, they could be asking students to research topics in American Studies, Communication etc.
Math: The Math planner had two purposes – the first was to show opportunities where this course could be linked to the Communication course as well as the Conversational/Academic English classes, and the second was to display how the Math course would be differentiated across 4 levels to accommodate the varying needs of students who would be attending the classes.
b) Long Range Planners for Courses in Offered in Bahasa Indonesia
With the tailored Curriculum Overviews completed, professors could then continue the curriculum mapping process by completing detailed long range planners. These long range planners were again individualized to meet varying needs.
American Studies: The American Studies long range planner was designed to split the content of the course over 14 weeks - 3 days per week. The professor would need to first map out course content, then provide key language so that the Academic English teachers could mirror the language in their classes, list any communication skills being covered (reading, writing etc…), provide lesson activities/assessments, materials required and finally list any connections that could be made with library/research skills and computer skills.
Communication: The Communication long range planner was identical to the American Studies planner and required the professor to follow the same steps.
Computers: The Computers planner followed similar steps to the Communication and American Studies planner, the only differences being that, one, the professor was also required to list links that would be made to any of the other subjects and two that the Computers course would run 2 days a week and not 3.
Math: A different approach was taken for the long range Math planner as the professor would need to differentiate each lesson over the course of 14 weeks into 4 levels: Pre-Algebra Beginner, Pre-Algebra Intermediate, Pre-Algebra Advanced and Algebra. Once the concepts had been split, the professor could then begin planning out the rest of the lessons in a similar fashion to the Computer course – key vocabulary, communication skills, connections to other subjects, lesson activities/assessments, materials required and finally links to library/research skills and computer skills.
c) Long Range Planners for Academic English Classes
Our Academic English program relied on the information provided by the professors teaching American Studies, Computers and Math in Bahasa Indonesia, as the classes in this program would mirror them. Once the teachers had the required information, they could begin their curriculum mapping process. Their long range planners were designed as follows:
Page 1: A snapshot of weekly concepts being covered in Bahasa Indonesia.
Page 2: Teachers would be required to list outcomes and objectives they would meet in their courses on a weekly basis.
Page 3: On this page, teachers would be required to list Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) objectives for the course on a weekly basis as well as assessment descriptors.
Page 4 etc.: These pages follow a similar layout to the professor’s planning templates whereby teachers need to list key vocabulary, communication skills, connections to other subjects, lesson activities/assessments, materials required and finally links to library/research skills and computer skills.
d) Conversational English
The Conversational English planning templates were arranged in a similar fashion as the Academic English templates, starting with a weekly overview of topics that were similar in theme to the American Studies course, followed by course outcomes and objectives, CEFR objectives and a more detailed planning of lessons throughout the 14 weeks. As we had planned on splitting the students into 3 classes – beginner, intermediate, and advanced – the individual Conversational English classes did not require the same level of differentiation as the Math course.
The library outcomes and objectives provided to professors and teachers were arranged by levels. As there was no set “Library/Research” course, once all the course planners were completed, everyone would need to come together as a team to ensure that between all the different subjects, the library curriculum would be met without gaps.
PHASE 3 OF THE CURRICULUM MAPPING PROCESS
Before commencing the 14 week program, it was important for us to meet as a team once again with the completed planners in hand. As a team, we would need to cross-check our work to ensure nothing was missed and that the curriculums were cohesive.
PHASE 4 OF THE CURRICULUM MAPPING PROCESS
The final step in the process was to ensure that throughout the 14 weeks we would continue to meet as a team to make sure we were all still relatively on the page. As we all know lessons can change, we may move slower or faster than expected, so by openly communicating with one another we could ensure that we were as unified as possible.
Curriculum mapping is essential at schools, and as the above example illustrates, can be completed using a top down approach and the proper planning tools. The Transitional Framework bound us all together, and as we completed each section of the flower diagram using individualized planners, we were able to curriculum map as a unified team, all moving in the same direction and towards the same goals. Although this program was designed for 14 weeks, the process is similar for other schools, as can be seen with the Language Framework that was developed for the Netherlands Inter-community school (NIS). For a school, the last step in the process would be continuous and not final, and curriculum mapping would take place on a yearly basis so as to flow with the growth and development of staff and students.