The New York State Comprehensive School Framework includes curriculum as one of the tenants of an effective school. Effective schools provide students with rigorous, coherent and relevant curricula that prepares students for success.
The goal of any curriculum is to articulate what students should know, understand and be able to do in each discipline. It should also support teachers in knowing how to achieve these goals.
Having a guaranteed, viable curriculum is identified by researchers as a primary factor influencing improved student achievement. Curriculum alignment provides the critical opportunity-to-learn .
Alignment of standards to curriculum ensures that students are taught the standards. Equitable access to an aligned curriculum supports student learning.
The purpose of a curriculum map is to guide teachers with those grade level standards, curriculum, resources and strategies that accommodate language and critical thinking. They enable students to become more independent learners.
Components of Curriculum Maps
Time Frame of Unit
Teams indicate the time frame of the unit — specifically, the specific weeks or months the unit will be taught.
Teams align grade-level content to the New York State Next Gen Standards. Standards define the skills and knowledge students must have to be literate and prepared for college work and life. Here is a link to a parent’s guide to the standards.
Overview of Content in Units
Curriculum maps are living documents that are updated on a regular basis. Each unit includes an overview of knowledge expected to be learned in a specific timeframe. These maps set expectations for delivery of instruction and assessment of student learning.
Objectives describe what students are expected to learn as a result of instruction. Learning targets are objectives that are written in student-friendly language. These targets focus the learning and clearly describe what students will learn and be able to do by the end of a class, unit, project or even a course. Teachers post learning targets so students have a clear understanding of what they need to learn, know and be able to do at the end of each lesson.
Open-ended questions provide an opportunity for students to think critically and inquire about the content they are studying.
- Are open-ended; that is, it typically will not have a single, final, and correct answer.
- Are thought-provoking and intellectually engaging, often sparking discussion and debate.
- Call for higher-order thinking, such as analysis, inference, evaluation, prediction. It cannot be effectively answered by recall alone.
- Point toward important, transferable ideas within (and sometimes across) disciplines.
- Raise additional questions and sparks further inquiry.
- Require support and justification, not just an answer.
- Recur over time; that is, the question can and should be revisited again and again.
Delivery of Instruction
While curriculum is the organization of content, instruction is how the teacher plans time and activities to engage students in the learning. Effective delivery of instruction includes “hooking” the students into the lesson, providing clear directions, asking questions, using wait time and calling on all students, pacing the learning and then assessing student understanding.
The curriculum maps include resources and materials that support the standards and course outlines. LCSD continues to build and provide access to diverse and inclusive instructional materials. Leader in Me is the district’s Social-Emotional Learning framework used across all grade levels. In addition, students have access to online instructional platforms, as well as hard copy textbooks, workbooks and fictional and nonfictional documents and books, as well as other materials. Each student is issued a Chromebook to access online learning.
Description of Assessments
The purpose of all assessments is for teachers to find out how well students understand the skills and content taught. It also allows teachers to know whether or not the goals they set for the students are being met. Assessments come in many shapes and sizes and are intended to assist teachers in recognizing areas of strengths, gaps or deficiencies in learning in their students so that instruction can be adapted to meet the needs of all learners.
Curriculum is important because it is the heart of a district. Maps are guides for units and daily lessons that are built on grade-level standards for a course of study, These maps offer a long term overview of what will be taught in a semester or year for each course or content area. Curriculum maps are intended to be “one stop shopping” that include all the resources a teacher needs to meet the needs of all learners.
The Next Big Step
Curriculum maps are fluid documents that are adjusted and revised on an ongoing basis. Curriculum is one of the pillars of the Liberty Central Central School District’s Five Year Strategic Plan. Our next steps are to ensure our curriculum is aligned across grade levels and subject matter, engages students in their learning and assists our educators in closing achievement gaps for students.