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Curriculum Mapping

Have a curriculum map so that, when your world is
turned upside down, you can still teach well.
Death of a parent, divorce, illness, family tragedy, natural disaster, maternity leave: these are all influences that can derail your school year.  Some people are more resilient than others, but no one is immune from extreme distraction as a teacher.  

How do we keep teaching well when our minds are scrambled?

Have a curriculum map and stick to it!

What is a curriculum map?
A curriculum map for reading skills in second grade
A curriculum map is a plan for the building of skills in students.  If students are in second grade, they need to be able to sight sing limited-range pentatonic songs, improvise on the extended pentatony, read and write rhythms in 2, 4, and triplet meter, and learn 4 pieces of art music by the end of the year.  During the summer, the music teacher will tease out which of these skills to attack first with consciousness and how to prepare the others.  She may review in September while preparing composition in 6/8 meter.  October will be dedicated to 6/8 composition, learning an art piece in 6/8, and aural preparation for low so.  By the end of the process, the teacher has mapped out what will happen in each of the months of the school year.

Pitfalls of Curriculum Mapping
Make sure that you account for the following variables while mapping your curriculum.

  • DON'T OVERPLAN.  Let yourself have some wiggle room if you'd like to explore something with more depth.
  • Always include benchmarks for the preparation of your concerts as well as reading and writing skills
  • Take snowy days, flu season, and class trips into account.  You might not want to plan lots of advancement in December and January if you tend to have several snow days and 20% of your population absent each week.
  • Don't be married to what you "should" be teaching.  Most Kodaly curriculum was designed for classes that meet more than once per week.  Do your best and be thorough.  
But I didn't do this and now it's March and I don't know what to do!
There are three fantastic curriculum maps that can save your bacon!  If you've been going on auto-pilot for years and are just now finding yourself feeling like the rug has been pulled out from under you, fear not.  Use one of these maps and take the above provisos into account.  

Eisen, A. & Robertson, L. (1996). An American Methodology. Sneaky Snake Pub.

This book also comes in a flip-calendar form.  The flip-calendar is designed for the curriculum to be presented with three weekly classes.  Adjust the speed accordingly.  I really love this book because it integrates the melodic and rhythmic elements through the years of study.  There is plenty of room for annotations.  I've added many pieces of music to the retrieval system, especially art pieces.  The back of the book has printed songs.  This is a fabulous resource. 

Epstein, M. & Rappaport, J. (2001). The Kodály Teaching Weave, Vol. II. Pro Canto Press, Westborough, MA.

This publication is short!  It is an outline of melodic and rhythmic elements in order.  There are no dates published, just the order.  It's a great, quick reference that can help you stay on track.  It is limited in that it relies on the teacher having a good retrieval system already.  You can put sticky notes on the map for the different classes you have.  John and Mary's book is the best way to make sure you don't leave anything out!

Choksy, Lois. The Kodaly Context Prentiss Hall

This book is organized by grade level.  The end of each chapter has a month by month curriculum map of that year.  Each month shows what skills are being prepared, which made conscious, and which are being practiced.  I love the pace of the mapping.  I also love how the maps end in May.  When June comes, it's just not realistic to instill new skills.  A well thought-out book.  

What are the costs of these books and maps?
The Kodaly Teaching weave is the cheapest by far!  However, you can get significantly better prices by purchasing used books during the off-season (winter and spring.)  Teachers are searching for these books during the summer and fall, when they have studied or need books for classes.  As the school year goes on, teachers forget about the books they wanted and the price and availability may be better.  

I got the Choksy book above for $5, it normally goes for $75 or more!  Keep your eyes open. 

If you are going through a tough time, I'm very sorry.  I feel for you.  I hope this post helps you do your best.  I'm writing it to remind myself of what I need to do to make it through the rest of the year.  


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