The first meeting with the administration team of Monarch Academy took place on Wednesday, April 10th at the school. The team consisted of an administrator from Monarch, a representative from Expeditionary Learning (EL), and several teachers. The purpose of this initial meeting was to to gain more of an insight into the challenges of mapping expeditions. Opinions and feedback were gathered from the team and we began to discuss the nature of what was needed in a web-based software application to meet the unique CM needs of an EL school. Topics including voluntary standards, mandatory standards, learning habits, assessment, long term targets, short term targets, and learning blocks were covered in the meeting with clarification provided for each. The meeting was structured around a series of topics.
Monarch’s interest in a web-based curriculum mapping system
The team described the need for mapping curriculum to Common Core standards. The school had previously researched other software applications, however traditional curriculum mapping systems did not appear to meet the needs of an EL school. Furthermore because of the changing nature of expeditions from year to year, any proposed system would need to provide a mechanism for handling these changes with the ability to ‘import’ prior years data. Most commercial and off-the-shelf products are aimed at more traditional schools where the curriculum, lessons and units do not vary as much from year to year.
Current process for managing curriculum mapping at Monarch
The curriculum mapping process is a new initiative at Monarch. Currently the school relies heavily on the EL core practices publication, along with various templates for guiding the documentation of curriculum. The current process involves a series of manually updated Word and Excel documents, however a complete mapping process is not in place yet.
High-level features desired in a web-based CM system
A curriculum mapping application should provide the ability to successfully map both the unique components of expeditions and non-expedition courses at the school. Ideally it would include some sort of import functionality whereby prior year expeditions could be brought into the current school year and then edited as needed. The system would work on a yearly cycle based on the current school year. It would include faceted reporting and search capability for curriculum reporting and provide alignment data across and between grade levels.
Physically access a web-based curriculum mapping system
Currently some of the school’s software applications are only accessible internally. The desired level of access would allow for using the application both internally and externally. Access would be controlled via user / password authenticated. Details for hosting the application will need to be defined later on, as well as implications for either hosting on an external server or the process for hosting internally either at EL or at Monarch Academy.
Impact within day-to-day work with access to a web-based CM system
The positives seem to outweigh the negatives here. Currently there is very little in place for even the paper-based curriculum mapping system. A web-based system will provide greater organization along with accessibility. Because of the nature of a web-based system, features could be put in place to foster collaboration within grade-level teams and across different grades. A negative impact could potentially be the additional training or overhead in terms of commitment needed by teachers to ensure the curriculum process would be successful.
Why would this tool be useful for teachers? What obstacles do you forsee when getting buy-in from teachers?
Would parents benefit from a public-facing section of this tool?
From your perspective, what would you imagine as the ideal ‘dashboard’ or set of commonly used features / tools (What are the most important tools to you?).