Contributed by Wendy B.

How have you integrated Curriculum Trak into your school culture?

Curriculum Trak is an important tool that teachers use to guide student learning and pace lessons throughout the year.  It is an extremely valuable tool that new teachers are introduced to as part of their training. It helps them know how to use the materials as well as ensures that all standards are being covered throughout the school year.  

Since our curriculum is now an online map, we are able to review it regularly and easily update it so that our written curriculum aligns with our taught curriculum.

What steps did you take to train, support, and encourage your teachers in their mapping efforts?

  1. Complete a map as a model for teachers to follow.
  2. Collaboration among teachers to create units that cover benchmarks adequately in each course
  3. Discuss how to complete a unit. (Begin with examining standards, create essential questions, plan instructional activities and assessments that help to achieve our objectives in the essential questions, find materials that will help us accomplish the goal.)
  4. Use maps to make sure all standards are instructed and assessed properly
  5. Review and revise as needed

What unexpected insights, findings or benefits have you discovered from your mapping efforts so far?

We are realizing that it isn’t so much about teaching the content as it is about teaching skills of critical thinking and problem solving.  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 have discovered the value of backward design, as outlined in step 3 in the previous question, and how this can improve our instructional planning for students.

What advice would you offer to schools just starting the process?

Don’t start by examining your materials and resources.  Start with the standards and essential questions. Then determine how your current materials will help meet those needs and where they fall short.  Do some research and examine other written curriculums that follow this type of design, but make sure that you don’t just copy someone else’s. Your curriculum maps must align to your school’s taught curriculum, assessed curriculum, and hidden curriculum.

What tips, strategies, or tools did you find most helpful in advancing your efforts?

Learn about backward design when building your curriculum.  It takes more time when writing and mapping curriculum, and it can be difficult to know where to start, but the product is so much better.  We changed our process midway through the writing and mapping process. Our later units are so much better. As we learn more about curriculum, we will continue to improve our maps.

Where are your mapping efforts leading you? What’s next as a result of your efforts?

Our next efforts will be learning more about the instructional design of lesson planning.  Once we have a better idea of how our lessons can be more intentional and relative to students, we are interested in using the lesson plan templates that align to our units on Curriculum Trak.