Monday, July 13, 2009

Curriculum Mapping

I had a similar experience to sryan's when I read the chapter on curriculum mapping in our text, Curriculum Connections Through the Library, edited by B.K. Stripling and S. Hughes-Hassell. Reading Chapter 5: Librarian Morphs into Curriculum Developer by C. C. Vlasis brought me right back to the time when my district started curriculum mapping. We went through all the stages listed in the book! We started with just one subject and wrote out our own classroom maps, met as a grade level to create grade level maps, met with other teachers in our district teaching the same grade, then met with grades above and below us. We had a hard time with the idea of giving up some well loved units and accepting that a true curriculum map is never complete.

It is so interesting to look at curriculum mapping from the perspective of a school librarian. When my library clerk, Marilyn, and I were moving the professional collection, I wondered if anyone had ever looked at the curriculum map binders on the shelf. As I read this chapter, I went and grabbed the binders to take a look. I shouldn't have been surprised, but I found out that there was a library tab! It looks like the library maps were printed in July of 2004, so I'm not sure if they are in current use, but it was exciting to find them. Right now, our curriculum maps either seem outdated or too cumbersome to manage. I could relate to Jo Ann Everett's (author of Chapter Six: Curriculum Mapping and Curriculum Mapping: Otherwise Know as "The Camel with Two Humps") experience of cutting up the science standards and putting them on a huge bulletinboard in grade level order in order to see the big picture. That's what we need to be able to do as librarians to make sure our collections, the materials in our library, will meet the curriculum needs of teachers and students. Bulletin boards are even bulkier than binders, however!

That's why I totally agree with Valerie's comments about curriculum being digital, therefore searchable and flexible. I believe our district paid for our maps to be on a website or database of some kind, but I can't even remember going to that website, what it was called, or even how it worked. I do remember it was very expensive! Even with our grade level binders, it is not easy to see all the skills that correspond to a particular Essential Question or content. Plus, the assessment and resources columns are blank. Perhaps we just weren't ready to be dealing with curriculum online at that time. This is an area I need to ask more questions about. Are those maps still there? Can we access them? Are they considered up to date? Is there a specific library curriculum in place?

The staff at my school found the discussions surrounding curriculum mapping to be the most valuable. We discussed what went on in our own classrooms, found out what other schools were doing, compared our ideas to those in grade levels before and after us, argued about what was content and what was a skill, we learned how to create essential questions, which skills/standards went best with which grades, what overlapped, and what was missing. I know our science curriculum was revamped quite a bit due to curriculum mapping. By pinpointing exactly what topics our students were going to cover each year in the different strands of science, we were able to purchase excellent materials that matched the students' level as well as curriculum needs. I'm sure the kids were relieved to no longer be studying plants every year from 1st - 3rd grade!

The end of Everett's chapter is encouraging in that she reminds us that we can't do it all at once. There's just not enough time or money. So, we need to prioritize and take small steps, which seems to be a theme for me this week.


  1. Hey Pam! I agree so much with the very last part of your post - that we need to take small steps. I always find myslef trying to fix everything at once, then getting overwhelmed and wanting to give up. If we enter a library that is very much outdated, updating and weeding in small chunks is the way to go. I know I will need to remind myself of this often, as I know I will feel like I am failing as a librarian if I have a bunch of outdated materials.

    We can take similarly small steps in getting a handle on the school-wide curriculum, and I agree with you that it would be best if it was online and always being updated and changed to stay as current as possible. I know that the thought of starting my first job and having to know the whole school's curriculum while also updating and managing the collection seems daunting, but if we take small steps then eventually we can get the library program to the state that we would like it to be!

  2. At my last school we did not have curriculum mapping. I see the value in it very much after our last class.
    I entered m last school library two years ago that was VERY out of date, and weeded the entire was much needed but also very time consuming. I started in subjects that do not change as often (literature and history) and then went on to more changing disciplines....for me it was easier to do this way and not as overwhelming!

  3. How interesting that you found a partially complete binder upon entering the library. I guess that is very telling about the state of the curriculum map in that situation.

    As an aside on your blogging style, I love all the links you are adding into you post which adds lots of depth and context for your comments.