Educators and administrators converse about curriculum mapping at an onsite training with Rubicon Atlas

Approach to Mapping: Map, celebrate, review, repeat…

By Kelby Zenor, Rubicon International

This blog is adapted from a webinar. To view the recording, click here.

The mantra encapsulates the rich but straightforward approach to mapping presented by Julie Dietrich of St. Peter’s Lutheran School (Colombus, IN) in the Curriculum Spark webinar, Creating a Continuous Curriculum Improvement Cycle.   Just try saying it a few times, and you might discover its productive, restorative, collaborative properties…

Map, celebrate, review, repeat…
Map, celebrate, review, repeat…

After sharing their approach to mapping, Julie deftly explained how this mantra outlines the robust curriculum mapping process at St. Peter’s.  Throughout Julie’s share-out, webinar participants seemed to hone-in on some mapping “light bulb moments” that are underscored below using a light bulb icon.  Here are some of the highlights as Julie unveiled the mapping cycle at St. Peter’s.


Prepare: Preparation for mapping is just as vital as the mapping itself!  Julie and her team began by assessing what they already knew about mapping.  With the support of the St. Peter’s principal, mapping teachers took time to answer the “Who, what, where, when, and WHY” of curriculum mapping.  They assembled their thoughts onto displayed posters that they revisit to stay focused on the purpose behind curriculum mapping.

Blue Lightbulb

Supportive school leaders are integral to successful mapping.  At St. Peter’s, the principal uses Atlas to communicate and display important information so that teachers know who is in the mapping “trenches” with them.

“Baby Steps:” Once mapping begins, scaffolding the mapping process becomes important. Julie described mapping as a progression of “baby steps.”  Especially in schools where mapping is new (or even if a school aims to reboot its process), beginning with smaller, achievable tasks is helpful.  At St. Peter’s, mapping teachers began by tackling their Unit Calendars and setting a hard deadline for completing those calendars.

Blue Lightbulb

Think of a new mapping initiative just like a new unit in the classroom!  Just like students, teachers who are new to mapping need support, appropriate scaffolding and reachable goals to learn and refine their process.

Tip: Common Language: While embarking on those “baby steps,” come to a group consensus on the language used for mapping.  St. Peter’s decided that their language would involve specific unit titles that described exactly what each unit covers, and they would not use numbering. An example of a unit title might be:  “Writing: Informative Writing” (while avoiding titles such as: “Writing: Unit 1”). Conversations about the common mapping language bring consistency to the overall process, mapping review and analysis.


When the team reaches that goal, be sure to take time to “smell the roses” and celebrate.  Mapping is hard, rewarding work—enjoy the accomplishment!  Julie says that celebration can be as simple as leaving a roll of “Mentos” on a teacher’s desk with a note saying, “It Mento a lot to me that you stayed after school to map.”  After all, who doesn’t appreciate a solid pun?


The review process can be a difficult step to start from scratch.  Julie indicated that her team’s Quality Mapping Rubrics (linked below) did wonders to guide the review process.  This rubric not only established the mapping goals and ideals before the process started, but helped mapping teachers identify the gaps and areas for improvement later.  Review can occur both individually and in groups.

Blue Lightbulb

For some teachers, evaluating their colleagues’ curriculum can be slightly daunting.  Julie recommended perhaps starting the process individually and building toward peer and large group review.


As Julie astutely emphasized, “Mapping is a process, not a product.”  Once a mapping team reaches its first goal, continue moving onward and upward towards the next!  Use your momentum to tackle that next mapping category or that first full course as a team!  Taking the time to create these quality maps together can link teachers to each other and to their students on meaningful levels. Julie reported that mapping helped teachers collaborate and really become a team, rather than remaining isolated, pedagogical islands at the same school.

Blue Lightbulb

Setting aside time to map during the school day is imperative. Julie suggested inviting parent volunteers or the school counselor to lead the classroom every so often to create some time for teachers to map during the day.

A special thanks to Julie for sharing the St. Peter’s Lutheran School approach to mapping with us.  Happy mapping and remember to just keep calm and…

map, celebrate, review, repeat!

Join us at an upcoming event to walk through creating a curriculum process for your school.

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