Glossary of Curriculum Mapping Terms



Active Literacy: The integration of critical language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing into the daily curriculum in every class.

Alignment: Agreement or coherence between the essential questions, content, skills, assessments, and the standards adopted by the district. Maps allow us to see three types of alignment: internal alignment, external alignment to standards, and cumulative alignment K-12.

Assessment Type: The various kinds of assessments such as quiz, test, performance assessment, essay, etc. that allow students to demonstrate their learning.

Assessments: Demonstrations of learning aligned to the benchmarks and standards that allow students to show you what they know. They are products and performances used as evidence of skill development and content understanding.


Benchmarks: Specific developmental statements regarding performance based standards. Benchmarks are usually defined in behavioral and observable terms.

Bi-level analysis: The examination of student work and performance data on two levels – the subject matter concepts and skills and the requisite language capacity (e.g. linguistic patterns, three types of distinctive vocabulary, and editing and revising strategies.

Big Ideas: Are important core concepts, understandings, or theories. They go beyond discrete skills and focus on larger concepts, processes, or themes.


Capstone Project Assessment:  These are demonstrations of learning that are 

Coaching Protocols: Tools that include the critical criteria for exemplary products. They are used to sharpen focus and ensure quality work.

Concept: A relational statement that provides the focus and basis for acquiring knowledge. It is synonymous with the enduring understanding or big idea.

Content: Is the subject matter; key concepts; facts; topics; important information.

Consensus/Core Maps: Agreed upon curriculum identified by teachers and administrators that determines which elements must be consistently taught by all teachers in a course/or subject and where flexibility will be critical.

Cornerstone assessment:  These are curriculum-embedded assessment tasks that are intended to engage students in applying their knowledge and skills in an authentic and relevant context.

Curriculum Mapping: Is a systemic process that can improve student performance by sharpening the alignment of all aspects of the curriculum to reduce repetitions, gaps, and strengthen the articulation of skills.

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Diary Maps: A map where data are entered on an ongoing basis. Periodically, whether every few weeks or trimester, you will stop and reflect on your work with learners and make an entry.

Differentiation: The process of modifying or delineating some aspect of instruction: the content, process, product, and/or learning environment to address the needs of the learners.

Differentiated Professional Development: Is modified professional development based on the level of understanding of the learners.

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Enduring Understanding: The important concepts and tenets of knowledge that have lasting value beyond the classroom.

Entry Points: Possible openings or entrances where curriculum mapping can be integrated into the current structure or processes in a school and/or district. This allows it to become part of the system.

Essential Questions: Over-arching questions that focus based on a key concept, enduring understanding, and/or big idea to prompt inquiry.

Essential Maps: A revision of agreements that are made by teachers and administrators that determine which elements must be consistently taught by all teachers in the course and where flexibility will be critical.

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Formative Assessment: Formative assessment is a planned, ongoing process used by all students and teachers during learning and teaching to elicit and use evidence of student learning to improve student understanding of intended disciplinary learning outcomes and support students to become self-directed learners


HUB: a connector or linchpin that connects all aspects of the school improvement process.

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Individual Maps: Maps developed by an individual teach that reflect what they teach in their class or subject. They include: essential questions, content, skills, and assessments.

Initiatives: Programs, projects, and/or ideas implemented by schools and/or districts to improve some aspect of the system.

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Learning target:  Concrete actionable  goals written in student-friendly language that clearly describe what students will learn and be able to do by the end of a class, unit, project, or even a course. They begin with an “I can” statement.

Lessons: Organized instructional plans aligned to assessment targets. The concept of “planning backwards” suggests that you start your design work with the assessment targets and tasks fully described. Once that is accomplished, you design your lessons so students are fully instructed around the content and skills that will be called for in those assessments. It is a reverse of the model that asked for lesson plans and then later for assessment designs. The “backward planning” provides a clear lens for examining your instructional time to make certain that it is purposeful toward benchmarks and standards.

Like Group Reviews: Read Throughs that focus on a specific curricular area. For example, all of the teachers in the Language Arts Department might read through the course maps for their department to look for gaps, repetitions, and the articulation of skills.

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Map: A visual method for projecting yearly plans as well as monthly plans for the classroom based on a calendar sequence from month to month that describes the scope of what is taught. Maps include: essential questions, content, skills, and assessments.

Mixed Group Reviews: Read Throughs of maps that involve teachers from different curricular areas. These types of reviews can help provide a better understanding of the curriculum across the school and/or district. They can also be used to identify where specific cross curricular skills or specific school and/or district goals are included in the curriculum.

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Non-negotiables: The core elements that must be taught in the curriculum.

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Power Standards: The most important standards.

Professional/Implementation Development Map: Is an organizational tool that using the mapping format to develop a yearlong plan for implementation. It includes: the training times, the essential questions, the content to be taught, the skills that participants should demonstrate, the products or evidence that will be produced during the training, and the assignment(s) that participants should complete prior to the next training.

Professional Learning Communities (PLCs): A conceptual model developed by Richard DuFour and his colleagues for transforming schools. It focuses on the following principles: A Shared Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals; Collaborative Teams; Collective Inquiry; Action Orientations and Experimentations, Continuous Improvement, and Results Orientation.

Projected/Projection Maps: A map that has been created prior to teaching a course or subject and then revised on an ongoing basis as the school year progresses.

Portfolios: Is a representative collection of a person’s work that serves as evidence of understanding.

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Quality Lenses: Are exemplary samples (e.g. maps, standards, etc.) from other schools and states that can serve as filters when developing quality Consensus maps.

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Read Through Process: The process following the development of the maps in which the teachers become editors for the maps for the entire building.


School based Support Structures: Key programmatic structures that have a direct effect on curriculum, assessment, and instruction: Schedule (daily, annual, long-term), grouping of students (within classrooms, throughout the institution, and by class size), grouping of personnel (into teams, departments, and roles).

Seven Essentials Strategies for Integrating Literacy: Are specific strategies for integrating critical language skills across the curriculum identified by Heidi Hayes Jacobs. The strategies include: revising and expanding the role of all teaches so they incorporate speaking, reading, listening, and writing activities with all learners in all subjects; organizing vocabulary into three distinctive types (high-frequency words, specialized terminology, and embellishing words) with specific instructional approaches in every classroom; developing creative notetaking strategies that cause students to extract and react to information; designing and employing a consistent editing and revising framework for writing K-12; assessing formal speaking skills through the use of discussion approaches; employing technical instruction to develop the human voice and body as communication instruments; and using curriculum mapping as the school- and district-wide tool for implementing and monitoring the use of these strategies.

Seven-Step Curriculum Mapping Review Process: The process or sequence developed by Heidi Hayes Jacobs for creating and analyzing curriculum maps in a school and/or district. The steps include: Collecting the Data, The First Read Through, Small Like/Mixed-Group Review, Large Like/Mixed Group Review Comparisons, Determine Immediate Revision Points, Determine Points Requiring Some Research and Planning, and Plan for the Next Review Cycle.

Skills: Are the targeted proficiencies; technical actions and strategies.

Standards: Statements that reflect the larger outcomes that we expect all students to be able to demonstrate before they leave our school. Most State Departments of Education have already established standards. Districts often add to those standards based on their local needs.

Student Mapping: Digital portfolios.

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Targeted Work Groups: Task forces that are organized flexibly to respond to specific emerging needs. When the work of the task force is completed, it is disbanded.

21st Century Skills: Are skills students need to be successful in the 21st century. They include: cross-curricular skills and learning to learn skills.

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Understanding by Design: Is a set of ideas and practices that helps you think more purposefully and carefully about the nature of any design that has understanding as its goal. It is based on the work of Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins and focuses on the principles of “Backwards Design”.

Unit: Curricular units aligned to standards that encompass some of the major areas of focus in a given developmental period. They include: the essential questions, content and skills that will be addressed, specific lessons that will be used, and assessments that will be required.

Unpacking Standards: Process of clearly defining the critical content and skills embedded in a standard that students need to know and be able to demonstrate to show mastery of the standard.

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