OSWEGO, NY – Curriculum mapping is helping to put the Oswego City School District on the path to better teaching.
The district is in its third year of this continuing program, according to Cathy Chamberlain, assistant superintendent for curriculum.
“Mapping is basically a calendar-based system of collecting information so teachers are actually writing down month by month what they are teaching … it’s a way of collecting information in real time, what is being taught in every single grad level,” Chamberlain explained.
It’s a process that starts out with each individual teacher, she said.
The teacher writes down what they taught and then gets together with the entire grade to review and compare each other’s maps. They get to see what others taught and what they had to let go because they didn’t have enough time.
There is no guesswork about what was taught and when, Chamberlain said, it is all documented on this program.
“We can make decisions as a group about changes we might need to make based on how well the students are learning the material,” she explained.
The teachers can go into the program and look to see what other teachers in the district, other districts and other states are teaching and how well it is working, she pointed out.
If you took all of the content that we expect students to learn and teachers to teach in grades kindergarten through 12, for every subject, it would take 23 years to teach, according educational researchers.
“What that tells us is that we have all that content that we have teach and teachers without a map will basically make determinations about what pieces they’ll do away with because they don’t have enough time to teach everything,” she said. “That means not all students are receiving the same instruction. Some will be having gaps. We have to ensure that they’re all being taught the same curriculum.”
Using the mapping program, teachers are able to get together and discuss what is best for the students.
“They make decisions together about what is absolutely essential for every student. And, they decide collectively what needs to be dropped out,” she said. “That’s one of the powerful pieces of curriculum mapping; it’s not just individual decisions, collectively they decide what things are absolutely essential.”
“Having a map like this makes a lot of sense to have an organization chart that shows what we need to do,” agreed Bill Crist, superintendent.
The map includes sections dealing with content, skills, assessment, resources and activities.
It is a living document, Chamberlain said.
“The teachers can make changes as needed from year to year,” Crist noted. “They are going to find success is some areas and others where they might need to improve.”
Many teachers thought they were all teaching the same thing, Crist said. What they found when they began mapping was that they weren’t, he added.
That’s why curriculum mapping is such an important tool, he noted.
It just isn’t “the flavor of the month.” It is something that has been proven to work and be effective, he pointed out.