Tag Archive for map

Curriculum Mapping

Where are we with curriculum mapping, seven years on? Teachers have documented 269 courses. The map is publicly available on our website. Curriculum map pages receive approximately 100 page views per day.

What value does the curriculum map have to the school? Most importantly, it demonstrates to families and teachers that we are intentional and thoughtful about our curriculum. It also allows prospective families to see what their child would study in specific grades, teachers from other institutions to learn from our work, and teachers within our school to assess program coherence across subjects and grade levels. The map suggests high accountability to our constituents and accrediting body. The curriculum does not liveĀ  behind closed doors. It is visible for all to study and critique.

Launching the curriculum map required a ton of work from teachers seven years ago. It was a new, schoolwide initiative linked to the school’s PNAIS accreditation. Absent the new initiative, it is difficult to keep the map up-to-date each year. It can be difficult for a division head to set aside time for teachers to update their courses when common meeting time is scarce, and so many other pressing discussion topics exits. Without dedicated meeting time, teachers may not consistently update their maps. Keeping course entries up-to-date is part of the annual teacher review rubric, but that, too has more parts than one can address in a single evaluation.

Another way to encourage completion is to lower the workload. Our old system required a site administrator to create new accounts with unique login information. Our new system is integrated into our regular website and network directory service. Editing permissions are as simple as possible — all teachers can edit all courses. The old system required three units (fall, winter, and spring). The new system allows any number of units.

Our current map has eight categories per unit:

  • Essential questions
  • Habits of mind
  • Content
  • Skills and processes
  • Assessment
  • Resources
  • Multicultural dimension
  • Integrated learning

We could lower the workload by reducing the number of categories. Habits of mind is only used by our preschool and kindergarten teachers. As much as I would like to document habits of mind for all courses, we’re trying to reduce, not increase, the workload! Multicultural dimension and integrated learning do not really match the other categories. While important, they should be evident through the content in the other fields. Perhaps we don’t need to call them out separately. What about other schoolwide themes, such as global education, sustainability, and urban education?

We could produce a style guide for teachers, some of whom write tremendous amounts of content. This is time-consuming to create and subsequently edit. Creating a common style guide with examples could help teachers keep their entries succinct and manageable.

A word about the tool: we use built-in Drupal functionality to store and edit our curriculum map. We use two content types (course and unit) linked through a node reference field. We then set up views to display course lists and to display the units in a single course.

We are also considering connections between curriculum map entries and classroom pages. The latter present so much more than the curriculum. Classroom pages document the life of the school, present teachers’ pedagogical ideas, and show student work. However, wouldn’t it be great if we automatically embedded a link to the essential questions for the current unit of each course?

Does your school use a structured curriculum mapping tool? What lessons have you learned, and what would you most like to change about your system?

Curriculum map in Drupal

Two weeks to go until live! This week, I migrated our school curriculum map from a custom system I authored into Drupal. This allows us to ensure the longevity of this web site resource, take advantage of Drupal’s strengths in structuring content storage and display, and provide teachers with a very usable editing interface. The curriculum map stores over a thousands nodes and can be added to an existing Drupal site. This article assumes familiarity with Drupal 6 views, content construction kit, blocks, and very basic custom function programming. This isn’t a step-by-step tutorial (maybe one day).

Curriculum map course content type holds courses. The description field is not yet populated but available for course descriptions. Taxonomy categories for division, grades, and subjects are applied to this content type. A node reference field is used to connect each curriculum map course node to as many curriculum map units as necessary. The autocomplete node reference widget is used to allow the user to re-order the units as desired. It may be difficult for a user to find the correct unit node using autocomplete if it is not named creatively. It may be a good upgrade to use a view to display more identifying information than the title for the autocomplete search.

Curriculum map unit content type has a textarea field for each curriculum map category. We use the following: essential questions, habits of mind, content, skills and processes, assessment, resources, multicultural dimension, and integrated learning. In retrospect, having so many categories created a lot of work for teachers, who had to populate some of these categories x each unit x each course they teach.

We authored module cgs_curriculum_map.module to migrate content from our old system into Drupal. It creates content and unit nodes, establishes node reference links between them, populates content fields, and attaches taxonomy terms. This is not necessary for schools starting a curriculum map from scratch.

When the system displays a curriculum map course node, the units also load in a table below the course description. This is accomplished by loading a block view that displays the curriculum map category content for each unit node referenced in the course node. The view is loaded into the content_bottom template region, so that it appears just below the course description field. A simple function in cgs_curriculum_map.module returns a + delimited list of node ids of the unit nodes attached to the currently loaded course node. The display setting for the node reference field in the course content type is set to hidden to prevent unit links from appearing above the unit content itself.

If a user wants to display a single unit in a more readable form, one may link the unit title to its node. The conventional node CCK field display presents fairly well.

A page view with exposed filters lists courses, so that a user may view courses in the desired divisions, grades, or subjects. This is a good starting point for a user.

The user interface for adding new units is currently weak. It would be clever to load the curriculum map unit node add form in a lightbox above the curriculum map course page, so that a teacher could create a new unit on the fly and still have it show up in the node reference autocomplete field. Also, some node edit form elements are named in such a way that may confuse teachers. For example, the edit tab on the curriculum map course node page will likely be construed as providing editing access to the unit nodes (you actually have to view the unit before you can edit it).

I am currently having difficulty using both arguments and filters together. The argument limits the initial course list to a single division in the division pages, but the filters attach additional criteria using ? arguments. When both exist, the view returns no nodes. It may be that the view is applying terms from one taxonomy to the other, where they don’t exist, causing the empty result set.

Use pathauto on the curriculum map content types and menu block visibility to load the correct secondary navigation menu when the view is displaying curriculum map entries.

curriculum map list view

curriculum map course view