Tips for Mapping Materials to Your District Curriculum (Part 1)

As you may have experienced, aligning a material to a district’s curriculum is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. In this blog, we shared five important tips for mapping instructional materials to your district curriculum. Since that blog was published, we have helped many more districts with various curriculum alignment tasks. In this two-part blog series, we share a few more tips from our experience.

(1) Establish a common definition of alignment. When we began Learning List, we surveyed educators and publishers to find out how they defined alignment. Not surprising, publishers generally defined the term more liberally than educators did, but there were many shades of grey in the definitions provided by educators, too. At Learning List, we consider a citation (i.e., a lesson, activity, quiz) to be aligned to a standard if the citation addresses the content of the standard, the cognitive rigor of the standard, and the context of the standard. It is a good idea to begin a curriculum alignment session by discussing what alignment means and what it looks like in your district.

(2) Identify the standards that must be taught in each curriculum unit. Most district curricula are recursive, meaning that the same standards are repeated across several curriculum units. Before you begin looking for citations in the material, it is helpful to know which standards must be taught in each curriculum unit. It is equally important to identify how many times each standard is repeated across all of the district curriculum units.

(3) Become familiar with the material. Before jumping into the alignment process, take time to become familiar with the material and the publisher’s correlation. Peruse the material to determine the topics covered, the progression of units/chapters, the pattern and structure of lessons, as well as the types and location of the material’s supplemental resources. Is the correlation a document or an online search function? How is it organized, and how many citations (lessons, activities, quizzes) are listed for each standard? Understanding the product’s correlation, design, and structure will make it easier to find citations in the material to check for alignment. 

(4) Identify where each standard is listed in the district curriculum (scope and sequence) and addressed in material. In the prior blog, we discussed how to map citations in the material to the district curriculum: select a standard; identify citations in the material that achieve mastery of that standard; map those citation(s) to the district curriculum unit where mastery of the standard is required; then, use the other citations in the material (that introduce and scaffold instruction of that standard) to backfill the other district curriculum units that include that standard.

A word of caution: since publishers and educators often have very different definitions of alignment, it is critical that you verify the alignment of the citations before you list them in the district curriculum.

(5) Match the pacing and context of the citations in the material to the pacing and context of the district curriculum units. As you determine where to map each aligned citation, it is important to match the pacing of the material to the pacing of the district’s scope and sequence. For example, if a standard occurs in units 2, 3, 4, and 5 of the district’s scope and sequence, look for citations that align to that standard in the early units of the material. Citations that occur in the later units of the material (e.g., 6, 7, 8) may assume pre-learning that will not yet have occurred early in the school year when units 2,3, and 4 of your district curriculum will be taught.

Make sure that you are also considering the context of the district curriculum unit. For example, if a standard stating “compose literary texts such as personal narratives, fiction, and poetry using genre characteristics and craft,” is listed in several units of the district curriculum, a citation addressing composing poetry would be aligned to that standard in the curriculum unit addressing poetry. However, that same lesson would not be aligned to the same standard in the curriculum unit addressing personal narrative

Easier said than done, right? Tune in again next week for more “helpful” hints about mapping resources to your district curriculum.

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