You'll be hearing a lot about what's called in the education world curriculum mapping. Mapping has been popular over the past 15 years or so in the independent school world and TA is now joining the many schools who have "mapped."
Perhaps the best way to describe curriculum mapping is as an audit of a school's entire curriculum. When a school fully maps its curriculum every subject at every grade level is recorded in a data base. Unlike an accounting audit, which is a summative process coming at the end of a fiscal period, a curriculum map is never finished because a curriculum should always be evolving. Thus, mapping is a living process.
The primary benefit of mapping is communication. First, the teacher who maps has a comprehensive plan for what, when and how she's presenting her curriculum to her students that goes beyond the expected lesson and unit plans of even the most organized teachers. Second, maps help all teachers communicate with each other. Whether a fourth grade teacher needs to know what 3rd grade has done in science or whether an Upper School English teacher needs to know what his students studied in English in the Middle School it's all in the maps. Third, many schools also share their maps with current and prospective parents recognizing that the customer has the right to assess a school's curriculum in detail. Fourth, the maps are created using a research-based standardized template that incorporates best practice features of what should be considered when writing outstanding curricula. Fifth, maps are based on nationally developed standards that are built right into the process. This is critical because these same standards are used by the testing companies. Sixth, although teachers still have plenty of autonomy in their classrooms maps allow the schools to set the foundation for curriculum across all grades and subjects, guaranteeing high standards and accountability. Finally, we will use Rubicon Atlas, a web based program developed solely for curriculum mapping. It is a user friendly and extremely powerful tool for mapping.
On March 29th I will hold a Headmaster Coffee with curriculum mapping as the topic.