Sunday, August 22, 2010

Common Core Curriculum Map Drafts

Late last week, a colleague of mine, Janet Hale, sent me a link to the new drafts of the Common Core Curriculum Maps for English/Language Arts, created from the Common Core Standards. If you head over to you can see the draft plan yourself.

When I start looking at them, I’m obviously looking for some specific elements that would differentiate the articulation of the standards into the design and practice of teaching. I was looking for the “action plan” if you will, of how the standards filter down to the students.

As I consider the maps in the context of my experience with mapping, I see some positives:
  • I like the usage of the words “Suggested” and “Sample” in terms of the map elements, implying that this should INFORM the actual operational curriculum of a school, and NOT BE USED VERBATIM in their current state.
  • I like the integration of multiple content areas across the maps (and the fact that the maps show across what areas the interdisciplinary actions occur.)
  • I like the attention paid to what is beyond the linguistic...the art, the visual, the drama, etc. All of these are crucially important for connections and learning and are sometimes missing elements in mapping ELA. In fact, I would postulate that anything done beyond the text is going to drive motivation and engagement, which in turn, drive attention and performance! (Those who have worked with me have heard that before!)
But, there are some issues as well that need to be noted:
  • As we begin to understand how to implement the ideas represented by these map samples, we need to keep in mind that they don’t represent our own collaborations or conversations and the needs of our specific students.
  • The essence of mapping is the collaboration, conversation, and consensus of our colleagues. The map itself is a by-product of all of that. The common core map doesn’t represent our conversations, collaborations, or contributions at our own schools. What this means, in terms of real usage, is that this cannot be the actual adopted form for a school district. This must be seen as more a frame for developing our own, district specific maps (which is mentioned in the FAQs).
  • When considering this as a framework for your district’s maps, note that some of the objective statements don’t have measurable targets (how the objective will be measured). Some objectives appear to be activities, rather than true, transferable skills.
  • There needs to be some careful consideration around the suggested assessment and how these assessments relate to the teaching and learning of the objective rather than just the standard. (Meaning a discussion of alignment of those measurable targets is important.) Also, there need to be more opportunities on your district’s maps that represent 21st Century skills, specifically using technology, critical thinking, analysis, and creation of alternative products for assessment purposes.
  • Additionally, there is a lot of room here for individual nuances related to the mapping elements, including the addition of more essential questions, common assessments, awareness of the intra-alignment of the map, more choice beyond what is suggested, and plans for student contribution and design to the learning process. (As much of what is “suggested” seems to lean toward the traditional, and may not be valued the same way by the 21st Century learner the way it was by the creators of this particular map.)
For those just beginning the mapping process, this is an okay first step in understanding the basics of a map. For those that have been mapping for awhile, it’s an opportunity to breathe new life into your maps, and rekindle conversations you may have pushed to the side in recent years, especially in relation to your own district’s resources.

It should be noted too, that these are still drafts. As they are tweaked and revised, watch for changes that will eventually impact how you may use them.

Follow Mike on Twitter at @fisher1000, find him on the Curriculum21 Ning, or on the ASCD Edge Community.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mike!
    As we have been talking as you prepared your blog post, I agree with what your shared out 100%.

    One of my concerns is the line in the opening paragraph that states that, "because they [the ELA CC Curriculum Maps] are free, the maps will save school districts millions in curriculum development costs." This statement misses the point of the value of the in-district/school colllegial dialogue and intensive decision making that eventually leads to designing a viable (and truly put-into-practice operational curriculum) both horizontally and vertically.

    Anything of value costs "time" and time in today's world often has monetary amounts attached to it.

    My hope is, as you stated and the FAQs allude to, that the CC Curriculum Maps can be used as starting point for teachers to design a curriculum that lives in the 21st century and ask the question, "Who owns the learning?"
    Janet Hale