Building Curricular Tools

Within Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas, Article II: The New Learning Standards, we recognize the need for a set of curricular tools to support teachers and students.  These curricular tools include supports such as lesson exemplars, annotated models of student work, samples of rigorous tasks, opportunities for student choice, project/product rubrics, professional development and professional collaboration related to the successful implementation.

II.i Guidance should be given to teachers’ daily work so they can make the content standards clear and compelling to their students for each unit of focus.

Creating such an expansive set of supports can be a daunting undertaking unless it is approached strategically and with intention.  First, if we consider the learning design we strive to provide for our students, then the outcome of those learning experiences is high quality, evidence of understanding created for a global audience.  Then, if we look at our professional learning through the same lens, then the curricular tools can become the output or producible from such professional learning.  And, those curricular tools should and will be at the upmost level of quality.  And, best of all, the buy-in and understanding of purpose will be an added benefit as well!

To share an example of the overlap of professional learning and the creation of curricular tools, take a look at a few Frayer Models created this spring by teachers in my district:

Frayer Model Triangles

Frayer Model Multiplication

Frayer Model Box Plot

Frayer Model Quadratic Function

In response to a need to strengthen academic vocabulary acquisition strategies, I created a professional learning opportunity, housed within our learning management system.  The educators accessed the content of the professional learning on their own time, or with their professional learning communities.  One of the vocabulary strategies included was Frayer Models, or a specific type of graphic organizer used to display definitions, characteristics, examples, and non-examples related to a single idea.  The teachers read this article, What’s the Big Deal About Vocabulary, by Pamela J. Dunston and Andrew M. Tyminski, and designed a learning experience to include Frayer Models with their students.  Finally, the teachers captured an image of the model in their classroom and posted a comment on the embedded discussion board using one of the sentence starters below, attaching a photo of the Frayer Model used.

  • I used to think…But now I know…
  • One thing I would change next time is…
  • One benefit for my learners was…

Now, a selection of these high quality, teacher-developed supports can be added to our curriculum documents and be used for professional learning, reference, and resources for teachers in the future!

I am appreciative of my teachers’ commitment to engagement in professional learning. It is evident by the Frayer Models they contributed to the bank for their peers and the comments they posted to the discussion board that this is a valuable contribution to our curricular tools for teachers and learners alike!

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