The four and a half years that co-authors Amanda McCallum and Karen Green devoted to developing MAPPEN have paid off with 200+ schools signing up since their guided inquiry program was launched in Melbourne 18 months ago.
And, though most are in Victoria at this point, MAPPEN is being taken up by schools across the country. McCallum says: “schools are talking to each other and the momentum is building.”

The MAPPEN website describes the program as ‘…an online curriculum and professional learning solution for Australian primary schools. It provides teachers with 32 expertly crafted integrated units, plus built-in professional learning.

"With the support of rubrics, each unit is expertly scaffolded towards a rich assessment task. Before they begin each unit, MAPPEN students are immersed in the real-world application of what they will be learning. Students complete a pre-test to assess their understanding and skills. Students are also given the opportunity to generate questions and conduct increasingly autonomous inquiries within the structure of the unit. That allows for the different styles of inquiry we have in there at the moment."

For each of the concepts, there are four guided inquiry units – one for Foundation level, one for Years 1 and 2, one for Years 3 and 4 and one for Years 5 and 6. Over the two years, the eight concepts investigated cover all of the Content descriptions for each band for the Humanities, Science, Personal Social and Community health and the Capabilities and Cross curriculum Priorities (Table next page).

In Education Today (2016 (2) p. 40) McCallum wrote; ‘…students need structured collaborative learning experience if they are to appreciate the power of tapping into the minds of others. Leaving students to work as a group with only a project sheet is like promoting students to write a creative story given only a blank page.’

Why should teachers hand over their lesson planning responsibilities to a third party? McCallum again: “because it gives time back to teachers to get on with the myriad other things asked of them; changes to the Curriculum seem never-ending and MAPPEN units are constantly updated to ensure that what is taught in the classroom is compliant, while making sure that the lessons are engaging and rich.

“When teachers log on to MAPPEN, the first thing they see are the units that have been recently updated recently – like the big update to AC8.3 and the new VC at the end of last year.”

Dennis Yarrington President of APPA, which endorses MAPPEN and promotes the program to members said: “Our research assured us that principals could be very confident that MAPPEN covers the Curriculum from Foundation to Year 6, while supporting educators’ professional learning.

“Wading through web pages and crosschecking all aspects of the Curriculum would be quite a task for any teacher but it’s all covered by MAPPEN… the units are quite challenging but with room for flexibility for a teacher wanting to include material that they like to use.

 “Principals in schools using MAPPEN can be confident that the most consistent, rich and engaging curriculum in the nation is being delivered in every classroom.”

In Cranbourne, 50 minutes south of Melbourne’s CBD, Monique Corcoran is Principal of Cranbourne South Primary and an enthusiastic MAPPEN user. Her school has 342 students this year and 22 teachers, including five specialist staff. At 995, the school’s ICSEA value is a little under the national 1000 mid-point with 69% in the lower and bottom quarter and a significant proportion of ESL students.

Corcoran has implemented MAPPEN across the entire school.

“Everything we do is in the one place and accessible by staff,” she said.
“Gone are the days where each teacher had a separate work program document; online collaboration is an integral component of the MAPPEN structure which ensures staff accountability to themselves, to their team and most importantly to the students.

“If the Curriculum is the ‘What’, MAPPEN is the ‘How’.”

And Ben Vevers agrees. He’s recently moved from St Thomas Moore Primary in Mt Eliza to his new role as Assistant Principal at Rangebank Primary School in nearby Cranbourne.

A long-term MAPPEN enthusiast: “I started working with Amanda McCallum 10 years ago, long before ‘MAPPEN’ became MAPPEN.

“We are implementing the program at Rangebank this term, so we’re at the early stages as teachers ‘get their heads around it’. With some training and experience I know that they will take to it enthusiastically.

“MAPPEN is a top-quality research-based tool… it’s all there for teachers to use and add their favourite resources and links to make it their own.”

Schools interested in learning what MAPPEN provides and how it works can book a 15-minute face-to-face or remote demonstration giving hands-on experience of the program and an explanation of the built-in professional learning. This is followed with unlimited exploration access for three days, with the ability to ask any questions using MAPPEN’s Live Chat feature.

The pricing structure could not be simpler: cost is $365.00 per class per year – which MAPPEN’s CEO Danny Ritterman suggests “…is a bargain when you factor in the quality of the units, the teachers’ time and the individual teacher’s professional learning opportunities and documentation.”