Note: We have been asking veteran Curriculum Trak schools to provide some tips that might be helpful to others. We believe these “Trailblazers” have a lot of insights to share with other schools also involved in the process. As we have gathered this information, we have observed some common threads – best practices – that are worth highlighting. We are excited to pass this information to others and invite you to share your thoughts as well.
As we pondered the feedback from our Curriculum Trak Trailblazers and combined that with conversations with other high-performing schools, one thing became clear – curriculum mapping success is largely dependent on school culture. While leadership is a major factor in this, making the practice of curriculum mapping a cultural expectation is also a key component.
Curriculum Trak is a tool that seeks to “make mapping easy,” but making mapping part of school culture is another task altogether. So, we asked our Trailblazers what steps they took to make that happen. We think their responses are very helpful and hope they provide you with some ideas as well. If you have some insights you would like to share with other schools that lead to your mapping success, please consider providing it through this form.
Some of the highlights include ideas such as the following:
- Give teachers a reason to access their unit plans and curriculum maps on a regular basis.
- Make curriculum review part of regular staff meetings, training, and discussion (use reports to highlight key components).
- Consider adding the Curriculum Trak Lesson Planner to help teachers plan for daily instruction that is tied back to curriculum maps.
- Seek ways to celebrate successes in curriculum, and use that to launch into a “What’s next?” mindset.
- Embrace humility and a team spirit to explore curriculum insights.
- Promote the idea of map consistency – few changes from year to year; new teachers should be taught to explore and embrace mapped curriculum before inputting changes.
- Organize teachers into teams and groups who work together to examine shared maps and identify next steps.
What other ideas could you add? Our Trailblazers provided the following ideas:
“All teachers use Curriculum Trak for lesson planning and curriculum mapping.”
“Having vertical and horizontal content area discussions will be a must. I feel strongly about all grade level teachers discussing a specific content area to ensure that each grade level is preparing students for the next and understanding what is required to do so. And of course grade level conversations help ensure that all sections are meeting the expected benchmarks even if individual teacher instruction looks a little different.”
“We are beginning to follow a six-year curriculum review cycle that focuses on three new subject areas each year. The initial step of the review is to be a thorough updating of curriculum maps.”
“Everything standard from a course that is not attached must have a reason associated for its exclusion (such as taught in another course/grade or is contrary to our Christian beliefs and values).”
“We are much more conscientious about covering the standards multiple times rather than just flipping through information in a textbook. We are realizing that one resource may not meet all our student needs.”
“We talk about Curriculum Trak a lot as a staff. We talk about it in staff meetings. We create space in our PLCs for Curriculum Trak. It is referenced in our staff memos. We have lead teachers that reach out to their colleagues to see if they can be of any help in the documentation process.”
“We spent 3 professional development sessions in the fall choosing a unit map to revise, following a discussion protocol with a partner about results in each of the mapping fields when the unit was taught, and then giving time to revise the maps given their discussion. We will need to continue doing this to embed the idea that maps are not products to be filed, but living documents to capture teacher learning each year of what works best for student learning in that unit.”
“New teachers are oriented to expectations within the community using Curriculum Trak.”
“The reports that CT allows administrators to pull are excellent tools to help check for gaps in standards or ESOs.”