Classrooms are changing. They are vibrant and filled with the noise of student engagement and learning - driven by personal goals and interests - not just scheduled curriculum plans. One of the first ways that you can join in on this refreshing style of education is to "Map the Curriculum" with your students. Giving them control of their learning by choosing the learning vehicle, product, success criteria, and level of support will boost self-confidence and intensify interest - in what you need to teach them anyway. This approach would especially benefit students in Junior, Intermediate, and Senior divisions.
*You can find a downloadable Microsoft Word copy of this "Curriculum Mapping Template" on my "Teaching Resources and Ideas" website here. It is yours to alter and use as you see fit in your classroom. This copy has an area beside each numbered question for groups to fill in as their plan while in their "think tanks."
*This is a link to a "Multiple Intelligences Product Grid" (source: Dr. T. Roger Taylor, 2002) that should be attached to the back of the Group Planning Sheet for students to consult when considering the "vehicle" choices for their projects.
First, divide your students into groups that will function as "think tanks" to determine the way that the subject is best taught given the needs and interests of the groups discussing.
Guiding Questions for Groups to Discuss and Plan:
*Hand them a copy of the curriculum "Specific Expectations" for the subject chosen (e.g., language, math, science, geography, history, arts, physical education)
1. How can we learn the information needed for each topic?
*textbook, library books, movies, internet, personal interviews, what else?
2. What environments could we use to learn in?
*classroom, library, around the school, other classes (class pairing/tutoring), in the schoolyard, in the community, at home/outside of school hours, field trips, what else?
3. How should we accomplish the learning?
*whole class lesson, small group instruction (guided), individual learning/discovery, peer/paired learning, what else?
4. What products or created-activities will demonstrate the learning to others?
*use of multiple choice intelligence grid, consideration of preferred learning styles (auditory, visual, kinesthetic), consideration of individual student learning needs (from special education plans, parent communications, student conferencing), what else?
5. How will we share our learning of the material?
*written projects, oral presentations (to teacher, to whole class, in small groups), demonstrations (computer presentations, working models, puppet shows, physical activities/games), what else?
6. How will we assess our learning? What checkpoints and processes should we follow before, during and after the learning process?
*Schedule key dates for checkpoints (what often should students "check in" to measure progress and get feedback on how project is coming along?)
*What kinds of self, peer, group, parent, and teacher formative (or "assessment as learning") options to support the learning process should we use?
*What "success criteria" have we created for this project that can be used to clearly measure our success in the learning goals? What will you know when your project has been successful in its completion?
**After each "think tank" session has finished, schedule time for the groups to each share and/or present their discussions and plans for moving forward. This should help spur new ideas for future sessions on other subjects targeted.
**Choose 1 lesson a day in the first few weeks of school (or any other time) to cover a number of different subjects using this approach.
Under these conditions, the learning has shifted from your complete direction to their discovery and an increasing accountability. This is a starting point in "flipping the classroom" from one ruled by you at the blackboard to one facilitated by you and driven by student needs, interests and motivations.
Do you already hand over the planning and "curriculum reins" to the students in your classroom? If so, what strategies do you use to increase both student engagement and accountability in their learning decisions?