Roles as Curriculum Developer
To build an effective collection, collaborate with teachers, and design engaging instructional materials, a teacher librarian must have a grasp of the entire curriculum. This involves mapping the library collection and the curriculum. Then, using this experience and resource as the blueprint for designing instructional materials.
In the chapter Librarian Morphs into Curriculum Developer in Curriculum Connections through the Library edited by Stripling and Hughes-Hassell, Charlotte C. Vlasis (2003, p. 108-109) describes a curriculum map as "a visual picture of the subjects and skills taught during a school year... a curriculum map show where you are with the curriculum, where you need to go, and how you will get there". It includes rows and columns containing the standards, content, skills, resources, and assessment for a particular grade level. It may also be "calendar-based" focusing on activities week-by-week or month-by-month.
View What is Curriculum Mapping? and Four Phases of Curriculum Mapping with Heidi Hayes Jacobs on YouTube.
Vlasis describes two types of curriculum maps:
- Integrated Maps. Shows all subjects that a child is taught each day.
- Content Maps. Shows one subject area and is broken down into specific parts or subtopics.
A curriculum map is a living document used for examining and improving the curriculum. The process of creating the map leads to a better understanding of the content, skills, and assessments. It's also a means of holding teachers accountable for the material they are required to teach. The activity of curriculum making can foster an atmosphere of sharing, teamwork and collaboration. It is particularly useful for new teachers as they adjust to the school's requirements. It's useful for experienced teacher as they look for ways to build skills from one grade to the next. Finally, the process of curriculum mapping helps address concerns about overlap and repetition in the curriculum. Teachers often have heated discussions about when a particular book might be real-aloud in a class. Through discussions about developmental appropriateness, teachers can come to agreements about the placement of particular materials.
It's essential that the school library be involved in curriculum mapping. Otherwise the resources listed in the curriculum map are often simply pages from a textbook. The librarian can draw on a wide range of materials in the physical and virtual collection to enhance the curriculum map with developmentally appropriate materials that address the content needs. This activity provides a wonderful opportunity for teacher-librarian collaboration.
Examine an excerpt from a fifth grade language arts curriculum map (click image below to enlarge). By using Google Docs, teachers are able to work collaboratively on the document.
Curriculum mapping provides valuable information to the school librarian about what it taught in the building and what resources are needed. The librarian can use the curriculum map to envision cross-grade level activities and interdisiplinary projects that individual teachers might not see when simply examining their own grade level and subject area. The map is also useful in budget planning and working with administrators on where additional resources are needed.
Curriculum mapping and collection mapping go hand-in-hand. As media specialist learn more about the curriculum, collection mapping activities become more relevant. It becomes more clear what areas of the collection need to be revised or updated.
Vlasis describes a process for using the curriculum map as part of co-planning instructional units with teachers.
- Standards. Select appropriate standards for the grade level and subject area.
- Brainstorming. Explore a range of activities.
- Essential Questions. Focus on essential questions that reflect the standards.
- Assessment. Plan assessments that provide evidence of learning.
- Activities. Plan lessons that reflect the needs of students.
- Post-Unit Reflection. Think about how the unit went and what can be changed for future collaborations.
Read Building Partnerships: Transforming Learning through Data-Drive Collaboration by Annette Lamb for examples of how the school librarian can become an important part of curriculum planning and evidence-based programs.
Read Chapter 5: Librarian Morphs into Curriculum Developer by Charlotte C. Vlasis by Sandra Hughes-Hassell in Curriculum Connections through the Library edited by Barbara K. Stripling & Sandra Hughes-Hassell
Read Chapter 6: Curriculum Mapping and Collection Mapping by Jo Ann Everett in Curriculum Connections through the Library edited by Barbara K. Stripling & Sandra Hughes-Hassell
Read Mapping the Big Picture: Integrating Curriculum and Assessment K-12 (1997) by Heidi Hayes Jacobs.