Curriculum mapping could mean various things for various people. In this case, my personal definition is as follows: curriculum mapping is the act of placing an entire year's worth of instructional material on a calendar so that it is shown to be covered. For example, I teach third grade, and I sleep more soundly at night knowing exactly what I will and will not cover prior to, during, and after our so-important annual standardized tests that are administered in March. If I have everything contained on a master schedule, I am fully accountable for covering all content in a timely manner by the end of the school year.
For me, curriculum mapping is another way to organize my year into smaller, more manageable time chunks. Each weekly story or chapter is correlated (as best as possible) with other subject areas, so that the students can relate the content in various ways and retain the information more readily. It is a conscience choice for me to redo my plan each year to reaffirm that my students are learning the appropriate information during the most appropriate point in the year.
To begin with, I have copies of the table of contents of each teacher edition I will use that year, along with additional workbooks or resources. I also have on hand the course of study for each subject in my grade level and a master school and district calendar containing any events to occur within the academic year. Finally, I make sure to have a blank copy of a calendar that has large enough boxes to write in, as well as plenty of sharpened pencils with erasers.
I then start by using the master calendars from my school and district to input any days off, shortened days, important assemblies, or the like that could effect instruction on that given day so that I may make accommodations when planning. After successfully combining three calendars into one master list calendar, I set the other two event calendars to the side, creating a "done" pile as I go along. Next, I begin with the subject that has the most importance to me personally: reading. This is the subject that has the least flexibility in my day. Since I typically do one story from my teacher editions per week, I begin placing each story in chronological order on the master calendar, allowing for short weeks to be skipped, as I will not have time to cover the entire story in that length of time. Making sure that I do not cover new material during the standardized testing time period and that I have adequate time at the end of the year to do year-end assessing before grades are due, my reading period is now scheduled, ensuring adequate time each week for the specific story with corresponding language skills.
Once reading is completed, I then move on to math. (Math is typically not correlated to reading, though once in awhile math themes seem to emerge from the reading stories that I use as teachable moments.) Math is the hardest to cover before the testing season due to the sheer volume of material to be covered. Making sure I hit the most in the least amount of time, I save the "icing on the cake" concepts for after testing is completed. This usually translated to one new math concept per day, which at times can be overwhelming, but doable.
Then, I place science and social studies into the calendar, rotating each on alternating weeks. I have a little more latitude with these subjects, and I attempt to correlate the concept in each chapter with the themes in the reading stories of the week. For example, if we read a fictional story about a dinosaur in an earthquake for reading, I may try to cover a science chapter about landforms. I could place a social studies chapter about ancient Greece with a nonfiction piece about the Olympics in reading. In this way, I am able to pull resources from both to be used throughout the day. Lastly on the calendar, I position small items that can be moved if necessary, such as cursive writing.
Overall, while there still remains some flexibility, I am guaranteed that I will cover all standards within the school year, as well as the piece of mind knowing that I will cover the most important concepts before our standardized tests. Curriculum mapping is always an annual tradition to kick off the start of my school year, but the time is worth it many, many times over!