Curriculum Mapping 101

I am attending a 3 day workshop about Curriculum Mapping by Curriculum Designers (Resources) in Boca Raton, Florida.

Presenters are:

  • Heidi Hayes Jacobs
  • Ann Johnson
  • Earl Nicholas
  • Jeanne Tribuzzi.

Over the next few days, I am hoping to learn more about curriculum mapping and how to take it back to my school. I am need  help in facilitating and coaching my teachers as we are creating operational and projected curriculum maps.

I have started talking to teachers before winter break and blogging about it on It is time for Curriculum Mapping. Since then, several teachers have started filling in our online curriculum mapping spreadsheet, which is a shared  on our domain’s Google Docs. In 2 weeks, we will have our only InService day of the year, where Paige McGee and I will present to and work with teachers to start our school’s journey into Curriculum Mapping.

Curriculum Mapping 101

Curriculum Mapping:

  • There are nonnegotiable components of curriculum. These components have to be in the map. The details, where and how these components are showing up on the map is the art of teaching.
  • Curriculum (Latin):A path  or course of small steps
  • How to improve the path students follow

What is Mapping?

Curriculum based curriculum mapping is a process for collecting and maintaining an operational data base of the curriculum in a school and/or district. It provides the basis for authentic assessment.

[Curriculum] Mapping is a verb… and then using these maps to make instructional decisions.

Have an end goal in mind, clarity and focus, then mapping backwards.

Why Mapping?

Why Curriculum Mapping

  • Clear sense of where to go.
  • common language as we are teaching
  • gain information
  • avoid repetitions
  • identify gaps
  • 21st Century skills/ Integration of Literacy
  • Address difficult areas.
  • Higher order thinking
  • Bringing in outside resources
  • Show parents that you are doing an at least “adequate” (if not exceeding) job in educating their children.
  • Same vocabulary as than public/competition schools in order to be able to compare

Mapping the core what students need to learn.

What are basic tasks?

How can mapping impact student achievement?

How can mapping serve as a hub for all student improvement?

Four Phases of Papping Training

  1. Laying the foundation (Vision)
    1. Prologue to mapping
    2. establishing reasons for mapping
    3. creating a shared vision/understanding
    4. identifying your leadership support structure
  2. Launching the process/Getting Started
  3. Maintaining, sustaining, and integrating it into the system
  4. Advanced Mapping tasks.

Where to Start?

Where to start?

  1. Get into small groups (their curriculum groups). Brainstorm the strengths of your current curriculum. What do we do better than the competition school. Chance to celebrate. What are you dong great. What changes could you make to better prepare your students better? Strengths—Changes
  2. Show and discuss articles/snippets to show how curriculum is an impacting student achievement. Leave teachers with links to read more.
  3. Brainstorm  few innovations, discoveries, and /or inventions that have occured in the past 5 years that have had or will have an impact your curriculum or delivery…
  4. Come up with 6-10 “Big Ideas” that kids have to learn.
  5. Put sample mapping together with a few key lead teachers.
  6. The key is baby steps,not about finishing, but it is about the process.

Coaching Tips & Activities:


  • What to do, if teachers are too attached to their textbook?Teachers know what they are supposed to teach and skills they need to focus on. You can’t map a textbook. You can’t ever cover it all. Talk about textbooks and how “updated” they are. What happens when kids in Lousiana are being taught from textbooks that don’t mention “Katrina”. What about textbooks that don’t include “9/11”, but their parents have been fighting in two wars.
  • Adding at the bottom of the content section to add 5-10 key vocabulary/terms
  • Give concrete examples of what quality examples are.  Pick two or three in a team and ask them to discuss what information they can gain. What do they like or don’t like.
  • Establish a purpose for mapping (What is in the best interest of the student? What will benefit the student most)- Put an empty chair in the room to refer to the “student”.
  • Be specific what form Curriculum Map will be written
  • If you have difficulty stating the concept… Identify three words that describe the focus of the unit; force these into a statement.
  • Analogy of teaching baseball- preparing students for the “game”. Breaking skills down.
  • Have teachers identify skill or activity?
  • On average, 35-40% if achievement tests are reading test

Time, Time, How much Time?

How much time will it take?

Elementary: Approximately 1 hour for content; 2-3 hour for skill and assessment per course.

Divide and break the writing down into doable chunks.

Types of Maps:

  • Diary Maps
  • Projections Maps
  • Individual Maps
    is a document that reflects the nonnegotiable (core content you HAVE to teach) and allows the teachers to customize instruction by adding additional skills, appropriate activities, assessments, and essential questions.

Essential Questions:

  • Open ended questions.
  • Reworded from the Concept

Big Ideas:

Big Ideas

  • serves as an umbrella concept
  • maybe a thought of as an organizer
  • is the heart of the subject
  • is central to connections in the field of study
  • is a conceptual anchor for making facts more understandable and useful

Concept/ Big Idea (to sharpen the focus and clean up the alignment)

  • What do you want people of leave with?
  • A relational phrase or statement
  • Sharpens focus and helps to determine what needs to be taught.
  • Written in bold form
  • If you have difficulty stating the concept… Identify three words that describe the focus of the unit; force these into a statement.
  • Once you have the concept, you can reword into the Essential Questions
  • Ex. :
    • Location determines a country’s economic possibilities
    • Teamwork promotes cooperation
    • History repeats itself

Content Topics/ Key Information:

Content & Key Information

  • Creating Quality maps
  • The WHAT is being taught
  • Content topics
  • Interdisciplinary or student centered
  • Written in Noun Form
  • Unpacking Standards  for the nouns in them
  • use hyphens
  • Add at the end: What specific terms do students need to walk away with (5-10 keywords)


Licensed under Creative Commons by Jackol

image Tightrope Walking by Jackol

  • What students need to know or be able to do in order to demonstrate mastery or understanding of content
  • are specific, observable and measurable, visible
  • include benchmark skills, critical skills, and 21st Century skills
  • Begin with action verbs.
  • Skills only live in context
  • Skill versus Activity. Is the skill really what you  want your students to learn
    • Create a poster is an activity
    • categorize vertebrates and invertebrates is a skill
    • Examples of precise skills:
      find the main idea
      estimate sums and differences using rounding techniques
      alphabetize to the second letter
      locate and identify
      compare and contrast

Great architects keep the following in mind with the elements

  • Style of building
  • proportion f building
  • materials of buildings



  • Demonstration of Learning
  • Observable evidence
  • Tangible products or observable performance
  • Purpose of assessment is help your schools function on a professional level.
  • The isolation of assessment data is the
  • Summative assessment
    • State testing (SAT,FCAT)
    • assess a larger chunk
  • Formative assessment
    • smaller areas
    • teachers are the masters
    • day to day assessments
  • written on maps in nouns.
  • Three tiers of assessments
    • drill & practice (formative)
    • rehearsal
    • authentic performance
  • Well balanced assessment
  • Upgrading assessment: make it timely

Heidi Hayes Jacobs’ Quotes:

Biggest issue is what you are NOT going to teach. You simply don’t have time

No one in his room can improve the performance of the students…only the students can.

Half of gaps a student has is a gap of teacher communication.

You assess students to figure out what they need. Curriculum Maps are the tools for that.

In Japan

  • do well in math, since they teach it as a language
  • very 4-5th math test, give students word problems. They are told not to solve the problem, but translate the problem what they are going to do.
  • read a math problem and describe the author’s intent

Benefits of Curriculum Mapping:

  • Student Benefits
    • know what is important for them to learn
    • fewer repetition and gaps of content
    • more focused, less fluff
    • answer their “why” they have to learn this
    • better idea when they have learned something
  • Teacher Benefits
    • Know where you are going
    • Expectations
    • focus
    • more time to diagnose higher level questions
    • enhanced communication (horizontal/vertical)
  • School Benefits
    • identify gaps
    • show accountability
    • common vocabulary
    • share activities
  • Parent Benefits
    • accountability from schools
    • choose the right match for child
    • increase involvement
    • instant access to skills their students will learn.