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What Is a Dynamic Learning Map?

A learning map is a network of sequenced learning targets. Often, we think of learning as one skill building on another single skill. A dynamic learning map, by comparison, shows a learning landscape in which multiple skills are related to many other skills. Dynamic learning maps not only show the relationships between skills but also show multiple learning pathways. Instead of assuming that all children learn a skill in the same way, allowing for multiple pathways recognizes that there are alternate ways to learn the same skill. By using dynamic learning maps as the basis for assessments, the DLM® system will give teachers a clearer view of each student's knowledge.

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For more information on what a dynamic learning map is, click on the thumbnail to play a video.

What Does a Learning Map Look Like?
Image: This illustration is a portion of a road map. Highways and streets are present with alternate pathways highlighted to match the text.

Think of a learning map like a common road map. Although students may share the same destination, they all begin their journeys from different starting points on the map. For parents and educators who hope to guide students to their destination, that road map provides a wealth of information. First, it shows where a student is starting. It also shows the main route, which is the shortest, most direct way to get there. However, a good road map does more than show a single route. It also shows several alternate routes in case the main route can’t be traveled. Finally, the map shows all the places students must travel through to get to their destination.

See a portion of an example learning map >>

Kinds of Skills Included in Learning Maps:

  • Tested Subject-Specific Skills. These skills include things like knowing a vocabulary word or being able to solve a multiplication problem.
  • Related Precursor Academic Skills. These are the underlying skills necessary to master the tested skill. For example, to solve a multiplication problem, a student first needs to understand what numbers are, be able to order numbers, etc. For each grade-level skill that is tested, there are numerous precursor skills.
  • Communication Skills. These are skills that allow students to communicate their answers. Communication skills are not limited to speech, but include a variety of things like pointing or nodding.
  • Attention Skills. Before a student can show knowledge of a particular subject, the student must first be able to focus on the task or item presented.

By mapping these and other types of skills, learning maps allow students to show what they do know rather than simply cataloging what they don’t know.