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Develop a CBE Competency Based Curriculum Map

Develop a CBE Competency Based Curriculum Map

Author: Jody Waltman

Students will learn how to develop a CBE unit plan incorporating UbD and CBE Design Principles.

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Understanding Competency-Based Curriculum

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Source: Image of iNACOL logo, Fair Use, http://www.inacol.org/

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In this tutorial, I'll walk you through the process of developing a CBE curriculum map. When you are creating a curriculum map for use in competency based education, a best practice is to keep in mind all three of the design stages of Understanding by Design.

Stage 1 of UbD is identifying the desired outcomes. This is where you will be thinking about the big ideas for your curriculum map. You'll need to consider how students are going to make meaning out of these big ideas and also how they are going to transfer that knowledge and those new skills to other situations.

In stage 2 of UbD, you determine what evidence will be acceptable as students demonstrate to you their mastery of the new competencies and skills. In UbD, this generally refers to a performance task, but you can build informative and summative assessments as well.

Finally, in stage 3, you develop the specific learning plan. This is where you create the plans for the learning activities, both how much time and how many opportunities are going to be provided for students in order for them to acquire the new knowledge and skills and also for them to make meaning of the new knowledge and skills and take ownership of their learning. Again, we want them to get to the point where they can actually transfer the knowledge and skills to new situations.

In stage 3, you're also going to consider any differentiation techniques that you'll implement throughout the curriculum map. Let's also briefly review the five design principles of CBE as identified at the 2011 iNACOL Summit. Students advance upon mastery, explicit and measurable learning objectives empower students, assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students, students receive rapid differentiated support, and the learning outcomes that are emphasized include the application and the creation of knowledge.

Throughout all of these principles, there is a focus on really understanding the unique needs of our students and helping them to develop the important skills and dispositions that will be crucial in their further education and in their future careers.

Finally, let's briefly review I can statements. These are statements that indicate what a student should be able to do at the end of an instructional unit. I can statements are sometimes referred to as learning targets. A key feature of I can statements is that they are written in student-friendly language, and they break the larger learning goals or standards into smaller, more targeted chunks. These features help students to better track their own progress and to stay on track towards meeting their learning goals.

So let's put all of these pieces together. As we go through this process, I will be referring to a curriculum mapping template that has been created using Google Spreadsheets. Your particular school or district may have a certain curriculum mapping template that they would like you to use instead.

In this particular template, across the top of the screen we see the spaces where we can fill in the Course Summary, the Course Outcomes and the Learning Progressions. The different units throughout the curriculum map appear on the left as we scroll down, and then as we scroll to the right, we see spaces to fill in the content standards, the ISTE standards, the learning progressions, vocabulary, learning plan details, differentiation details, resources, performance tasks, common assessments, and formative assessments. It's important to realize that curriculum work is best done in teams. So, if possible, discuss all of the elements from this tutorial with your curriculum design team.

In stage 1 of Understanding by Design, we're going to be addressing design principles 2 and 5 from Competency Based Education. It's in this stage where we want to identify the desired outcomes. So here are some questions that you can discuss with your curriculum team.

What are the long-term transfer goals and competencies that we want students to take with them, both from each unit and from the entire course? What are their meanings and understandings that we want students to leave the units and the course with? What are the essential questions that are going to help our students to extend their learning beyond the classroom walls, out into real-world applications? What are those smaller items of key knowledge and skills that we want students to master throughout each unit and through the whole course? What are the content standards that we're going to be addressing? This would be related to the knowledge, the skills, and the competencies that we'll cover throughout the various units.

After addressing these questions with your curriculum team, you'll be able to complete several of the sections in your curriculum map, including the course summary and the course outcomes, the essential questions for each unit, the content standards, and the overall learning progressions for the course. This is where you would outline all of the outcomes, the goals, the knowledge, and the skills and competencies that students will be working on throughout the entire course.

After filling in those items on your curriculum map template, you'll be ready to approach stage 2 of Understanding by Design, determining the acceptable evidence. The questions in this stage will address design principle 3 of CBE. Your team will want to talk about what performance tasks you'll be using in order to have students demonstrate their mastery of the competencies.

Also, how will students demonstrate their meaning making and their transfer goals? These performance tasks would be in the spirit of deeper learning, including authentic applications in real-world situations. You'll also want to consider any other formative and summative assessments, along with any other various types of tasks that students will use to provide evidence for you of their mastery of the competencies.

After addressing these questions with your curriculum team, you'll be able to fill in several more items on your curriculum map, including the performance tasks, the common assessments, and the formative assessments that will be used in each unit.

Finally, the questions addressing stage 3 of Understanding by Design, developing your learning plan, will be connected to CBE design principles 1 and 4. In this stage, you'll be making decisions about the types of activities that are going to support your students as they make progress towards demonstrating proficiency of the content standards. As each individual student makes progress towards meeting their objectives, their outcomes, and their competencies, we need to make sure that we are accommodating their various needs, including different pacing needs. This learning plan that you're developing has to meet the needs of all of the different learners in your classroom as they work to make meaning out of information, to transfer skills and knowledge to other situations, and ultimately, again, to master these skills.

So how are you going to provide extra support for students who are struggling with this process? And on the other end of the spectrum, how will you address students who actually achieve mastery before the rest of the students in the class? And finally, how is your instruction going to be organized and sequenced? How are you going to differentiate the instruction to meet the needs of all of the students in your classroom?

There's one more item to consider here before we return back to the curriculum map template and that is going back to stage 1 and taking those competencies and objectives that we wrote and rewriting those in student-friendly language as I can statements that are aligned to the content standards. Remember, again, that these I can statements help students to track their own progress towards mastering the competencies.

After completing stage 3 of Understanding by Design, you'll be ready to fill in the summary for each unit, the I can statements for each unit, and the learning plan and differentiation details for each unit as well. Remember to also record all of those instructional strategies that you are going to be employing throughout each unit.

After discussing the stages of Understanding by Design with your curriculum team and filling in the various elements in the curriculum map template, it's a good idea to take one more look at the entirety of your curriculum map and ask yourself some reflection questions.

First, determine whether you have actually identified all of the standards and outcomes and competencies that you want to address throughout the entire course. Then think about whether the assessments that you've chosen are going to fully measure student mastery of the competencies and, finally, have you implemented a variety of differentiation strategies that will support student self pacing and ultimately their mastery of the content and competencies?

Throughout this whole process, keep in mind that curriculum really should be an iterative process. Your curriculum map needs to be updated regularly. So a best practice is actually to review your curriculum map after each unit has been instructed and assessed. It's in this period of time immediately following the actual implementation of the unit that you are best suited to reflect on what worked well and what didn't work so well throughout the unit.

Then you can immediately make any necessary changes to the overall curriculum map and to the individual unit plan itself before you move on to the next unit in the plan. You can also consider whether there is going to be an impact on the next unit of instruction. You can think about making adjustments to that upcoming unit before you begin to instruct it.

Remember to be looking both at your overall curriculum map and your individual unit plans, because while the curriculum map provides that wide overview of what is going to be included in all of the units throughout the course or throughout the year, your individual unit plans are going to provide a much greater level of detail.

So here's a chance for you to stop and reflect. I hope that you'll consider sharing this design process with your curriculum team as you design or review your curriculum map.

For more information on how to apply what you learned in this video, please view the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. The additional resources section includes hyperlinks useful for applications of the course material, including a brief description of each resource. Thanks for watching. Have a great day.

Notes on "Develop a CBE Competency Based Curriculum Map"

(00:00 - 01:19) 3 Stages of UbD

(01:20 - 01:59) iNACOL's 5 Principles of CBE

(02:00 - 02:29) "I Can" Statements

(02:30 - 03:33) Curriculum Map Template

(03:34 - 04:51) UbD Stage 1

(04:52 - 05:51) UbD Stage 2

(05:52 - 07:41) UbD Stage 3

(07:42 - 09:25) Curriculum Map Review

(09:26 - 09:57) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

Curriculum Mapping Template

This is a template that can be used in your development of CBE curriculum maps.

Heidi Hayes Jacobs - What is Curriculum Mapping

This is a great introductory video about curriculum mapping by a thought leader in the field. Heidi Hayes Jacobs connects mapping to 21st century instruction. This is one video in a comprehensive video series.