I create detailed maps of curriculum experiences overlayed with various types of metadata. The maps start with a student's first class at the university, but I have always wanted to map the journey that leads them to our door. They bring a collection of knowledge and experience, but the gaps can turn into anxiety and apprehension to stay the course. The Common Core Standards are a great starting point for mapping K-12 skill development, even though teachers have a love/hate relationship with it.
I dreamed of becoming an Animator or 3D Artist when I was young. Jurassic Park blew my mind, and I knew how to enjoy a well-designed video game; I chose to map the kindergarten to College experience from the perspective of a student passionate about Environmental Art. They appreciate the scenery and level design in games and geek out by trying to model environments, lighting, and textures. Some of my colleagues were gracious enough to rate which Common Core skills would be the most beneficial to success in their courses. I finally had a connection between skills learned in Elementary, Middle, and High school to freshman, sophomore, and senior level Computer Animation and Game Art courses.
A tree diagram is excellent for showing the hierarchical structure of relationships. With the new data set, I wanted to show how the skills were connected at each grade level while highlighting critical skills for becoming an environment artist. The entire graph represents what each student will eventually encounter before starting college. To approximate the experience gained, I estimated the average weekly activities students complete each subject and school year. This allowed me to highlight the experience level for students at any grade level, showing progress toward gaining all the skills in a skill tree.
While Common Core Standards represent the skills gained throughout grade school, instead of thinking of them like learning outcomes statements in the curriculum map, I used MidJounrey to convert them into characters. Discussing the standards like superpowers or personas of young scientists, artists, developers, writers, and activists who could emerge from their unique journey of acquiring skills was easier.
Images generated by Midjourney, 2023 (https://www.midjourney.com).
Every student can’t master every skill equally, so I combined the illustrated characters with the tree diagram to show how natural talents, interests, and practice come together to prepare them for their path. They must explore their limits, constantly integrate what they already know into new situations, and continue learning.
It's easy to become impatient and want to watch a few videos to learn how to do a specific thing, but mastering just one aspect of what it takes to become an expert requires time. With that time, students discover their learning process and express what they know. They develop a voice, brand, and signature style. The timeline illustrates that doing what you've dreamed of will likely take time. It's a long journey, but worth it when it all comes together.
I had a chance to share the visualizations with 6th - 10th graders participating in a CodeOrlando event. I shared my journey and introduced the concept of curriculum modeling. My goal was to show them how what they're learning today relates to where they may want to be and applaud them for taking advantage of gaining additional experience outside the classroom.
I converted my speaker notes into the story below.
In a world of creativity, imagination stands apart, a beacon of endless possibilities. All of us, you and I, have this innate ability. In our era, even machines mirror our imaginative prowess. Feed them a description, and they paint a vivid picture.
Image generated using the prompt "Illustration of a little black boy with short haircut, looking up at the stars and imagining a future world.” by Midjourney, 2023 (https://www.midjourney.com).
The nuances of creativity and imagination are profound. For instance, while it took only 210 characters for a machine to sketch a captivating illustration, our very essence, our DNA, would demand 3 billion characters. And while we might struggle to decrypt this language, a greater force understands it entirely. It's like an intricate script written specially for each one of us. Most of it is shared, yet 1% holds the essence of our uniqueness, like a secret gift.
Image generated using the prompt "A devoted, supportive, enterprising, and conventional young black teen male who likes follow procedures and regulations to organize information or data, manage, negotiate, market, or sell, in a business setting. cinematic style that looks like a living painting created by Sara Pichelli” by Midjourney, 2023 (https://www.midjourney.com).
The journey to self-realization is intricate, and often, the way is elusive. My journey to stand before you was painted with vivid strokes of history, challenges, and dreams. The year 1962 was significant, not for my birth, but for my grandparents. Moving from bustling Boston to Griffin, Georgia, they braved racial segregation while harboring dreams of expanding their business. The six-acre plot they owned saw my childhood unfurl, where at seven, with a distinctive frown, I aspired to be a farmer. But life wasn't without its hitches. With a speech impediment, I chose silence, becoming a reflective listener, lost in my world.
Griffin, with its sprawling night sky, became my refuge. Amidst the stars, I found solace. The universe's majesty whispered tales of potential to me. As books from the Scientific American Library found their way into my life, they fired my imagination, even if their complex narratives eluded my comprehension. The allure of technology in the 1980s drew me in, even leading me to break my computer inadvertently.
Jurassic Park's cinematic spectacle steered me towards graphics and 3D modeling. Leafing through magazines in grocery stores, I yearned for tech mastery, leading me to the hallowed halls of Full Sail University. My association with Full Sail brought me face-to-face with the vast realm of education, design, and technology. My role at Full Sail, the "Senior Director of Curriculum Modeling Systems," was not just a title. It was a testament to my journey, culminating years of observing, learning, and connecting the dots. My vision was clear – to map every student's learning path like constellations in the vast educational cosmos.
Full Sail Studios [Photograph], by Full Sail University, 2021, Full Sail, LLC. (https://www.fullsail.edu/about/press).
Your journey could mirror mine in its uniqueness. Each class and assignment is but a stepping stone in your journey of self-discovery. The vast expanse of knowledge is your playground. Every grade and class is an opportunity to hone skills that will shape your future.
In this rapidly evolving world, you'll find labels and models trying to define you. But amidst this labeling, always remember your uniqueness. Composed of billions of characters, much like the stars in the sky, you are beyond any label. And as you chase your dreams, remember, the tapestry of your life is waiting to be woven by you.
At the end of the presentation, a young man approached me and asked me how I overcame my speech impediment. It caught me off guard because it was a small bullet amongst all the intricately designed visuals. He shared how he does Python development on the side. He thoughtfully identified the one thing not included in Common Core or our curriculum: overcoming something he felt could be a blocker. He was already making the right connections and asking the right questions. Seeing his genius inspired me to create this site.
We can have the most complex curriculum maps, but let’s always leave room to recognize challenges that have nothing to do with how well the outcomes are aligned, and activities are sequenced.
Impediments background image generated using the prompt "A 32 - year - old black male architectural drafter that lives in Houston, texas that like practical, hands - on problem - solving; he values attention to detail, dependability, cooperation, analytical thinking, adaptability, and independence sitting at a handmade desk inside his personal workshop/ maker space where he likes to listen to music, design, reach architectural monographs. The workshop walls have minimalist posters of architectural drawings, constellations, and other astronomy themes.” by Midjourney, 2023 (https://www.midjourney.com).