Brownsburg's Dream Team for Curriculum Mapping
In June, teachers at Brownsburg Community School Corporation met to develop curriculum maps for students with significant disabilities. As an alternative to special education teachers shouldering the entire work of content development, general education teachers collaborated and brought expertise in their respective subjects. High school special education teacher Brad Rosebrock described the process for mapping ELA and Math as “one of the most productive days of PD we have had.”
A key to the success of the collaborative process was having the district and school administration provide leadership and guidance, based on their experience. Department heads from English and Math kicked off the day with 15 minutes each on how they map activities and assessments based on the standards. This was followed by work sessions within the designated Math and ELA groups focused on deciding which of the Content Connectors would be the instructional and assessment priority each week, with additional time devoted to discussing transition portfolios. “The department heads were right there and assisted us and talked us through the process. It was great to have content specialists and leaders who have led their own teachers through similar process.” Brad said this was especially important since special education administrators aren’t as experienced with mapping the academic subjects in this detail. He added that the high school department heads worked with the Middle and High School special education teachers, while an elementary instructional coach worked with the elementary teachers for the entire day.
Aside from expertise in the subject areas, the ELA and Math department heads had done a comparison of the priority Indiana standards against the prioritized Content Connectors and noted differences like higher emphasis on vocabulary and grammar-based standards with the Content Connectors. They also encouraged teachers to use language from sample I AM questions to guide phrasing, format, and language for assessment questions.
What was the product of this collaboration between general education and special education teachers and administrators? “Our big takeaway was that we set up by week and month for the school year what content connectors we will focus on for ELA & Math, 3rd through 10th grade. This includes not only critical and important priority standards, but, also, some more throughout the entire year and some clustered into certain segments of a month or semester.” Brad also says there are plans to get other content area specialists involved.
As a result of the collaborative mapping, staff meetings will be leveraged differently throughout the year. “We’re going to focus a lot of our department and PLC meetings for the year on activities and common assessments to align with the curriculum map we came up with.”
To add to the content-rich resources for special education teachers, the special education department will work with general education teachers across other subjects to map curriculum for students with significant disabilities. Currently, a Biology and a Special Ed teacher co-teach a high school Biology class and are building a library of resources that can be shared across the district. He hopes to collaborate with those teachers, along with the Science Department Head to get Biology mapped later this school year. He hopes to add Social Studies, eventually, but the initial focus will be the IAM assessed subjects.