Introduction to Curriculum Documents
Curriculum documents have long existed to guide instruction in schools. These documents represent collaboration within our school community to identify what our students should know and be able to do. They contain several parts: philosophy, standards, performance indicators, and curriculum map.
The philosophy statement sets forth the common beliefs about a particular area of study. These beliefs are consistent with the District’s mission and vision. They reflect the nature of learners and high expectations.
The standards are broad statements, applicable K-12, that identify the areas of knowledge and skill needed in a discipline. They reflect both New York State and national standards.
The performance indicators are grouped developmentally (K-4, 5-8, 9-12) and define observable, specific levels of learning. They set the foundation for the curriculum map.
The curriculum map is the heart of the document. Organized by grade level or course, the map specifies what students should know and be able to do within the context of each unit of study.
Guide to Curriculum Maps
The information below is provided to assist you with understanding curriculum maps. It is best to review this material before viewing curriculum maps in order to make the best use of them and avoid misuse.
Curriculum maps are the "Table of Contents" to learning. They are not lesson plans. Curriculum maps focus on what information is fundamental. As teachers construct classroom experiences, they are encouraged to add in lessons that are important to know and nice to know. Teachers are also aware of the importance of taking advantage of the "teachable moment" - taking time out from the identified curriculum to study a current event or address a special student interest.
Curriculum maps are never done; they are always a work in progress. The maps on our web site are our current working documents. Teachers are always collecting ideas to improve the maps as they work with our children in their classrooms.
Curriculum maps include the following components:
- Time frame: defines approximately how long the unit lasts.
- Essential questions: provides focus for each unit by highlighting conceptual priorities.
Content: identifies the core knowledge students need to answer the essential question.
Skills: identifies what students should be able to do, including discipline-specific skills, communication skills, critical thinking skills, word and study skills, and technology skills.
Assessments: lists ways students show evidence of learning. Some assessments listed are mandatory; others are optional, depending on teacher and student need. Types of assessments include teacher-designed tests and performance tasks, as well as standardized and NY State exams.