27 Aug The Adopted Curriculum: A New Chapter in Consensus Mapping
One goal of Atlas has always been to make a school’s curriculum transparent. The theory: if we know what we’re teaching, we’re more likely to ensure connections and consistency between teachers, grades and courses. One way to do this is to create an Adopted Curriculum through consensus mapping.
So what is that? The best way to explain might be through a song…metaphor.
All That Jazz
Jazz is a rich style of music with a strong yet flexible rhythmic under-structure. It’s played with a mix of solo and group improvisations on basic tunes and chord patterns. The beauty of jazz is that the same song in the hands of two different musicians can sound remarkably different, even though the basic melody is the same. That’s because jazz honors the artistry of the musician, giving them freedom to do what they do best while also anchoring them in a strong under-structure.
Having an ‘Adopted Curriculum’ is similar in that it identifies the pieces of the curriculum that is required in each class, giving teachers the freedom to then add and customize how they teach with a focus on meaningful instruction. Regardless of which class a student attends, the ‘Adopted Curriculum’ creates consistency in the curriculum to ensure that each student leaves with the same basic understanding of content. Like Jazz, the Adopted Curriculum frames the essential components of what should be taught while still allowing teachers to improvise and provide the artistry only they can to bring the content to life.
Click HERE to see a visual of how Adopted Curriculum Mapping works
Big Districts Staying In-Sync
Extending the music metaphor, imagine a full symphony orchestra with 80 people trying to play the same song in unison in 80 different rooms. Getting all of those sections and musicians to play together in harmony takes a great deal of communication and coordination. Similarly, large school districts may have multiple buildings, teachers, and administrators that all need to get on the same page to ensure that all students receive a cohesive, comprehensive, quality education.
Districts often provide pacing guides or possibly District Maps or Consensus Maps to help create consistency. The Adopted Curriculum can streamline these materials and, like the score an orchestra uses, identify key curriculum information for each grade level and content area, while allowing each teacher to add their own artistry to their performance.
World Fusion: International Schools
Whenever a band has a musician leave, it can be difficult to retain all of the style and characteristics that make the band unique. Similarly, when schools have high teacher turnover, as many International Schools do, it can be difficult to ensure consistency for students. Because of this, International Schools may want to create a framework for each course, like an Essential Map. The Adopted Curriculum does the same for teachers by laying the foundation and framing out the curriculum so they can begin their work, giving new teachers a structure to support them while providing students a smooth transition between grades as teachers come and go.
For the Small Venue: Small Independent Schools
Small, independent schools have a certain luxury in the consistency department. Like the small, fluid jazz band, these schools often have an easier time maintaining communication and consistency between teachers. However, they may want to create an Adopted Curriculum to document all of the great work that has been done. This can help with knowledge transfer when veteran teachers leave, or when teachers have extended absences (like maternity leave), or even when accreditation visits take place.
In the Public Spotlight: Utilizing Your Public Site
Many bands create alums to share with fans, potential venues, and all of their other stakeholders. In education, there are many stakeholders when it comes to the curriculum: Parents, students, governmental agencies, accrediting organizations (to name a few), and the curriculum becomes a kind of ‘album’. Sharing with these parties can be rewarding, and in some cases mandatory. But sometimes it can be difficult to know what to share. If there are many teachers teaching the same course, it can be overwhelming for these stakeholders to comb through all of the material. An Adopted curriculum allows the teachers to come to consensus on certain pieces of the curriculum that can be shared with the public.
That’s a Wrap
If the the Adopted Curriculum sounds like it might be good fit for your school or district let us know! We’d love to have a conversation with you about how the Adopted Curriculum can create consistency and support your process.