MPS Map Template with Guidance & Questions
Middletown Public Schools continue to work with curriculum mapping and (Understanding by Design) unit development. Curriculum mapping and UbD cultivate each other. Mapping is the perfect tool to align curriculum, skills, standards, and expectations at the course level, perform vertical and horizontal analysis of courses, and improve communication between teachers about what's happening in our classrooms. UbD is ideal for planning and preparing individual units of study. During this school year, teachers throughout the district will have opportunities to work on curriculum maps and units.
The framework of our educational program is our Curriculum Map. It currently provides a sequential, coordinated program of studies in the core instructional areas of English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. In the future, curricula for art, music, world languages, physical education, health education, and career-technical programs will be similarly mapped to demonstrate alignment to state expectations as required by the RI Department of Education.
Understanding By Design and Curriculum Mapping
According to Heidi Jacobs, "Curriculum mapping is a procedure for collecting and documenting the operational curriculum anchored in the actual school calendar." Thus, curriculum mapping gives "The Big Picture" not only of what has actually been taught in each classroom, but also what skills were addressed and how those skills have been assessed. In this sense, curriculum mapping is much more than just a "curriculum inventory" of the school.
Curriculum mapping is distinctly different from a syllabus or scope and sequence because teachers who map must not only think in terms of what is being taught, but of the skills they are addressing and the means of assessing these skills. For many teachers, mapping is the first time they break the stranglehold of their textbooks and look at their curriculum with the end in mind - i.e. "...what skills do my students walk away with?"
Mapping thus dovetails neatly with Understanding By Design (UBD). Although UBD focuses on individual unit plans and is much more specific than a curriculum map, it's methodology is similar: "Begin with what your students need to take away from the class (i.e. essential skills and understandings) and base your assessments and content on that." An UBD unit plan is quite detailed, outlining not only essential skills and assessments, but also learning activities, individual assignments, homework, etc. Wiggins and McTighe liken an UBD unit plan to a "gourmet meal" - difficult to prepare, perhaps not something you'd do every day, but well worth the time.
Many schools use curriculum mapping to start teachers on the road of thinking differently about what they teach. Using curriculum maps, they can decide at the course level what skills they are teaching, how the skills are assessed, and thus, what content would serve as the best vehicle to deliver these skills. Once this paradigm has been shifted from what we teach to what skills students need to acquire, the time is ripe to look more deeply into individual units and the UBD methodology.
Curriculum mapping and UBD feed off each other. Mapping is the perfect tool to align curriculum, skills, standards, etc. at the course level, perform vertical and horizontal analysis of courses, and improve communication between teachers about what's happening in our classrooms. UBD is ideal for planning and preparing individual units of study. It helps maintain the focus of a unit and plan activities, homework, etc, that are meaningful to the desired outcomes. In fact, when creating an UBD unit, it is helpful to refer to the curriculum map to identify the skills and standards that need to be addressed. The curriculum map can be revised and updated based on an UBD plan and it's post-analysis.
Curriculum Mapping and UBD are a great match. Both encourage teachers to look at what they teach in terms of desired outcomes, albeit at different levels of specificity. Curriculum maps are ideal to align courses, as they give the big picture. UBD is ideal to put the maps into practice at the day-to-day level.