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Curriculum Mapping

The United States educational system is in the midst of reform and new forms.
While there are, and will continue to be, federal recommendations and
requisites related to accountability such as Common Core State Standards,
PARCC / SMARTER Assessments, Race To The Top, No Child Left Behind,
high-stakes testing, standards alignment, and instruction based on best practices, many public
and private learning organizations want to infuse a 21st century learning-centered mindset and
build their educational mission, vision, and goals around an emphasis on students as diverse
learners and thinkers.
There are many research-based models designed to help cultivate educational reform and new
forms. Based on a desired model (or often times, more than one model), a learning organization
creates a framework that necessitates all teachers be involved in the act of learning--teachers as
learners, teachers as systemic designers of student learning, students as learners and, at times, codecision makers, and teachers focusing on best-practice teaching and facilitating.

Curriculum Mapping Model

The curriculum mapping model based on Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs's work (1997, 2004, 2006,
2008, 2010) clearly addresses the necessity to synthesize various models and create a framework
that focuses on the recommendations, requisites, and desires that affect students' learning and
teaching environments.
Udelhofen (2005) states "the concept of curriculum mapping originated in the 1980s with the
work of Fenwick English" (xviii). Dr. Jacobs embraced and enhanced the earlier work by
adding a variety of teacher-driven curriculum maps, horizontal and vertical alignments, cyclic
reviews, and professional curricular dialogue. Jacobs (2004) states, "curriculum maps have the
potential to become the hub for making decisions about teaching and learning. Focusing the
barrage of initiatives and demands on schools into a central database that can be accessed from
anywhere through the Internet can provide relief Mapping becomes an integrating force to
address not only curriculum issues, but also programmatic ones." (p.126).
Hale (2008) adds, "curriculum mapping is not a spectator sport. It demands teachers ongoing
preparation and active participation. There must also be continual support from administrators
who have a clear understanding and insight into the intricacies of the mapping process." (p. xv)
Curriculum Mapping emphasizes the requisite that teachers and administrators focus on the
balance between what really took place in individual classrooms with what was individually or
collaboratively planned. This data is measured in real time: recorded by months or grading

periods. Most types of curriculum maps are recorded monthly. Teachers record what has taken
place, or is planned, individually at a school-site level (Diary Map, Projected Map);
collaboratively planned curriculum at a school-site level (Consensus Map, oftentimes referred to
as a Core Map, Master Map, or Benchmark Map); or collaboratively planned curriculum at a
district level (Essential Map).
To gain insight into gaps, absences, and repetitions in a school or district's K-12 curriculum, it is
critical to create quality maps. During the initial learning-to-map-phase the most commonly
recorded data includes content, skills, assessments, resources, and their alignment to one another
other and state (or other) standards. In subsequent and more advanced phases of mapping,
additional data such as evaluation processes, attachments of best-practice lesson plans and
activities, essential questions, and other curricular information is often included.
Curriculum maps are never considered "done," nor is having maps the ultimate goal of mapping.
Maps are a by-product of mapping. The term mapping is a verb. It constiutes active engagement
and collegial participation in on-going curriculum work. Curriculum mapping does not perceive
education as a static environment since learning, and learning about learning, is in continual
motion. As long as teachers have new students, new classes, and new school years, newly
designed, revised, and replaced learning and teaching evidence in curriculum maps provides a
school or district's ongoing curriculum.
Curriculum maps are never to be used for teacher evaluation or punitive damage. Maps are
designed to provide authentic evidence of what has happened or is being planned to happen in a
school or throughout a district. Encouraging frequent individual and collaborative revisiting,
reviewing, and renewing of available data (e.g., curriculum maps, student
assessments/evaluations, teacher-to-teacher instruction observations, formal testing results)
through curricular dialogues and collaborative decision making is at the heart of mapping. This
mindset is a necessity to reach sustainability and have curriculum mapping become a natural way
for conducting curriculum work that continually improves student learning.

Curriculum Mapping Focuses

Curriculum Mapping focuses on three Cs: Communication, Curricular Dialogue, and
Communication -- 21st Century curriculum maps are most often developed and maintained
using an Internet-based commercial mapping system. This technological venue provides teachers
and administrators with easy access to both the planned and actual horizontal (same grade level
and/or same discipline) and vertical (different grade levels and/or different disciplines) curricula
for present and past school years. The commercial systems' search features allow teachers to gain
instant information in regard to mapping data to aid in curricular dialogue. This means and level
of communication is unprecedented. In the not-to-distant past data had to be printed out, copied,

distributed, and an in-person meeting held to view and discuss the documents. Curriculum
Mapping encourages innovation and thought about meeting differently and in new ways.
Curricular Dialogue -- Teachers take part in collegial relationships wherein they make databased decisions about grade-level, cross-grade level, disciplinary, and cross-disciplinary
curricula and instructional practices. Teachers become Teacher Leaders. Curriculum Mapping
has two guiding principles: Jacobs (2004) states that teachers and administrators must consider
"the empty chair" which represents all students in a given school or district, and "all work
must focus on Johnny, and all comments and questions are welcomed as long as they are in his
best interest" (p.2). Second, if it is in the students' best interest to change, modify, stop, start, or
maintain curriculum practices, programs, and/or other related issues, there must be data-based
proof to do so (Jacobs, 2002). These two principles are logical, rational, and well-founded. One
may consider them easy to implement, but oftentimes proves difficult in practice. Barth (2006)
refers to the "elephant in the classroomthe various forms of relationships among adults
within the schoolhouse might be categorized in four ways: parallel play, adversarial
relationships, congenial relationships, and collegial relationships" (p.10). Not surprising, the first
three ways do not elicit vigorous curricular dialogue. Barth contends "empowerment,
recognition, satisfaction, and success in our workall in scarce supply within our schoolswill
never stem from going it alone success comes only from being an active participant within a
masterful groupa group of colleagues" (p.13). Therefore, it is of utmost importance to provide
teachers with ample professional development to hone their skills in all facets of curriculum
mapping and collegial, curricular dialogue. Allowing teachers time to build personal ownership
in the mapping process empowers them, and subsequently, improves student learning.
Coherency -- A combination of 21st Century communication plus curricular dialogue eventually
equals curricular coherency. Many teachers are currently engaged in what Dr. Jacobs (2001)
refers to as "treadmill teaching." Running breathless on grade-level or content-area treadmills
trying desperately to get everything they believe needs to be taught, taught. If teachers took the
time to slow down their treadmills and personally document and evaluate both the planned, and
most importantly, actual learning, they may well discover that they are perpetuating a potentially
incoherent curriculum. Curriculum Mapping is designed to ask teachers to record, reflect on,
study, and revise their individual and corporate work. This cyclic endeavor eventually leads a
school or district to developing and maintaining an aligned curriculum that makes sense to all
and most importantlyto students!

Curriculum Mapping and Change

Curriculum Mapping necessitates that teachers play an active role in making curricular decisions.
Looking at this historically, it is not the educational norm. Empowering teachers to become
Teacher Leaders is paramount, and a top priority when introducing the concepts of Curriculum
Mapping. Administration, as always, plays a critical role in this endeavor. Lyle (2006), a
Curriculum Mapping Coordinator in Marion, Illinois, wrote an excellent article pertaining to the
issue of Curriculum Mapping, leadership, and change. Here is an excerpt:

Curriculum mapping involves a second-order change. Marzano, R., Waters, T., and McNulty,
B.A. (2005) state that second-order change "involves dramatic departures from the expected,
both in defining a given problem and in finding a solution" (p. 66). Curriculum Mapping may be
considered a second-order change for our district because it challenges the status quo of
historical practices and therein may result in resistance. However, it has the potential of resulting
in transformative learning. Weinbaum (2004, cited Merzirow & Associates, 2001) in stating
"transformative learning involves the process by which we revise or change our fundamental
assumptions, perspectives, and worldviews" (p.16). Curriculum Mapping results in reflective
practices that expand teacher perspectives and responsibilities for student learning from a micro
to macro level. Jacobs (1997) states
To make sense of our students' experiences over time, we need two lenses: a zoom lens into this
year's curriculum for a particular grade and a wide-angle lens to see the K-12 perspective. The
classroom (or micro) level is dependent on the site and district level (a macro view). Though the
micro and macro levels are connected throughout a district, there is a conspicuous lack of macrolevel data for decision making. Yet we need that big picture for each student's journey through
his or her years of learning. With data from curriculum mapping, as school and its feeding and
receiving sites can review and revise the curriculum within a larger, much-needed contest. Data
on the curriculum map can be examined both horizontally through the course of any one
academic year and vertically over the student's K-12 experience (pp. 3 - 4).
The data generated in curriculum maps can provide information that enables teachers to identify
and address curricular gaps and repetitions. Curriculum Mapping is built on a foundation of
collaborative inquiry groups in which "teachers construct knowledge from questioning their
own practice and looking closely at their own students and their work" as well as the relationship
between individual teacher's works in terms of the big picture of the student's K-12 experience
(Weinbaum, 2004, p. 18). Lambert (2003) states "schools in which staff members discuss
student learning outcomes during continuing professional dialogues tend to reflect upon and
improve practice as a result" (p. 54). The reflective process of Curriculum Mapping as well as
the variety of collaborative inquiry groups has the potential of significantly impacting student
achievement. However Curriculum Mapping can not be sustained without the proper leadership,
support, and teacher "by-in." Effective Curriculum Mapping requires nurturing, supporting, and
encouraging teacher leadership so that the impetus for systemic change is fostered by a bottomup approach rather than a top-down system. Lambert (2003) suggests:
Directive or command-and-control behavior may get the immediate task done, but it undermines
the growth and development of those who are subjected to it, diminishing teacher leadership and
the leadership capacity of the school. Innovation, risk-taking, and real conversations about
teaching and learning are not to be found in schools governed by directive principals. (p. 44)
Fostering teacher leadership, shared vision, and "trusting" collaborative inquiry groups is the
cornerstone of a curriculum mapping initiative that results in sustainable change. Barth (2001)
notes that teacher leaders often:
"encounter resistance from fellow teachers" because they "violate the taboos of their

school" in that "principals lead; teachers teach. So it has been, and so it shall be" or they
may feel impeded by "other teachers and administrators who are threatened" by the teacher
leader's passion and enthusiasm. (p. 446)
Curriculum Mapping results in a redefining of teacher and administrator roles and
Barth, R. S. (2001). Teacher Leader. Phi Delta Kappan,82 (6), 443-449.
Jacobs, H.H. (1997). Mapping the big picture integrating curriculum and assessment K12, Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Lambert, L. (2003). Leadership capacity for lasting school improvement, Alexandria, VA:
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Marzano, R.J., Waters, T, McNulty, B.A. (2005) School leadership that works from research to
results, Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum.
Critical to understanding Curriculum Mapping and its collaborative design, one must recognize
that mapping is not an external program or process that "comes and then goes" in a few yearsit
is an internal, interactive process that becomes a natural component of a school or district's
infrastructure. In an interview for the Journal of Staff Development (Sparks, 1996), Michael
Fullen shared
People in schools should not take shortcuts in their search for clarity and solutions. They need to
engage with all kinds of ideas to improve what they are doing, but not adopt external programs
that foster dependency In my view, teaching is an intellectual and scientific profession, as
well as a moral profession. That means that schools have to constantly process knowledge about
what works and that teachers have to see themselves as scientists who continuously develop their
intellectual and investigative effectiveness The cognitive sciences teach us that if information
is to become knowledge, a social process is required. This makes great pedagogical sense.
Information stays as information until people work through it together in solving problems and
achieving goals ... Changing the culture is even more important because it establishes norms of
continuous interaction. So, information becomes knowledge through a social process, and
knowledge becomes wisdom through sustained interaction.
This connection between enabling teachers to create quality data-based curriculum maps and
using the maps for curricular dialogue is critical for a successful Curriculum Mapping initiative.
Fowler Elementary School District, in Phoenix, Arizona, has a district motto: Curriculum
Mapping is not one more thing on our plateit is the plate! This motto is 100% true, but this
reality does take time (from my personal experience, up to three years) to get the majority of
teachers in a school or district to cognitively and emotionally understand the complexity of the
processes and function in a vigorous, self-challenging manner.

The Curriculum Mapping Journey

Based on current educational demands, success is based on measurable, improved student
learning. Curriculum Mapping addresses this concern, but goes much deeper. It travels to the
heart of our profession: caring about the journey a child takes upon entering as a Kindergartener,
exiting as a high-school graduate, and enrolling in a higher-education learning environment ... To
be successful for a lifetime: Prek-16+.
Be advised: Curriculum Mapping is not a quick fix. Curriculum Mapping has a learning curve to
it. For a time, your teachers will be students. They must be afforded the cognitive processing
time needed to learn something new, and be well-supported throughout the process. Some will
learn faster than others; some will need more support; and still others may refuse to learn. Just as
curriculum's root meaning is: a path taken in small steps, it is important to allow teachers to
likewise take small steps.
Learn as much as you can about Curriculum Mapping by continuously reading, attending
conferences and networking to aid in developing your school or district's strategic plans, realistic
action plans, and short-term goals. Please use my website to help gain insight into the world of
Curriculum Mapping and support your present or future work. If you would like to e-mail me or
call me to discuss questions or wonderments, please feel free to do so at any time.

Happy Mapping!
Hale, J. A. (2008). A guide to curriculum mapping: Planning, implementing, and sustaining the
process. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Jacobs, H. H. (1997). Mapping the big picture: Integrating curriculum and assessment K-12.
Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Jacobs, H.H. (2001). Keynote address. National Curriculum Mapping Institute. Park City, Utah.
Jacobs, H.H. (2002). Keynote address. National Curriculum Mapping Institute. Park City, Utah.
Jacobs, H .H. (2004). Getting results with curriculum mapping. Alexandria, VA: Association for
Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Jacobs, H. H. (2006). Active literacy across the curriculum: Strategies for reading, writing,
speaking, and listening, Larchmont, NY: Eye On Education.
Jacobs, H. H. (2008). Keynote presentation. Glendale, AZ: Regional Curriculum Mapping
Jacobs, H. H. (2010).Curriculum 21: Essential education for a changing world. Alexandria, VA:
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Jacobs, H. H. & Johnson, A. J. (2009). The curriculum mapping planner: Templates, tools, and
resources for effective professional development. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision
and Curriculum Development.

Lyle, V. (2006) Leadership for curriculum mapping. Unpublished Manuscript. Marion School
District #2, Marion, Illinois.
Jacobs, H. H. & Johnson, A. J. (2009). The curriculum mapping planner: Templates, tools, and
resources for effective professional development. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision
and Curriculum Development.
Jacobs, H. H. & Johnson, A. J. (2009). The curriculum mapping planner: Templates, tools, and
resources for effective professional development. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision
and Curriculum Development.
Sparks. D. (1996). Interview with Michael Fullan. Journal of Staff Development, Winter 2003
(Vol.24, No. 1).
Udelofen, S. (2005). Keys to curriculum mapping: strategies and tools to make it work.
Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.