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State standards guide teachers' lessons

By BY SUSANNE CARROLL, SHERRI HATHAWAY AND CAROL TIPPINS
Oct. 26, 2013 at 5:26 a.m.

Susanne Carroll is the executive director of Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability at VISD.

In Victoria ISD, we believe that teacher autonomy and flexibility to teach the state standards are key to student success. Teacher expertise is the critical element in the design and delivery of lessons with a focus on knowledge of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) state standards for learning. Without the TEKS Resource System, our teachers would be spending countless hours uncovering the specificity of the state standards and putting the standards in an appropriate order for instruction.

The TEKS Resource System is a curriculum management system that orders the TEKS into big ideas for learning. VISD teachers use the TEKS Resources System along with their expertise and knowledge of best practices to design and create enriched lessons for the students in their classrooms.

As teachers create their lesson plans, they need the freedom to modify and adapt instructional elements, such as the assessments, to meet the needs of their students. Through professional learning community meetings, our teachers are doing a stellar job of analyzing each assessment question to make quality decisions regarding what they want students to know and understand at the end of a lesson or a unit. That means some of the questions provided in the TEKS Resource System (TRS) are modified, and some are eliminated and replaced with questions that are better aligned to student needs.

Only after teachers have decided on a set of questions that reflect what they want their students to know do they move on to the development of lessons that will help students arrive at the learning. The lessons VISD teachers develop are centered on high-yield strategies that include: higher order questioning, scaffolding and sentence stems, small group purposeful talk, students posing questions about the learning objectives, research, cross-curricular writing and students taking notes, summarizing and identifying similarities and differences.

The Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability Department sends compliments to the Victoria ISD teachers for taking on the challenge of modifying and adapting the TRS curriculum and assessments to meet the needs of their students. Great teachers realize that what they teach, when they teach it and how they teach it are all important elements of student learning. The TRS provides teachers with a basis for what to teach and when to teach it. This allows our teachers time to focus on becoming experts at the "how."

Curriculum kudos to VISD teachers for the awesome work they do for every child, in every classroom, every day.

Dr. Susanne Carroll is the executive director of Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability Department at VISD. Carol Tippins is associate director of Elementary Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability. Sherri Hathaway is associate director of Secondary Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability.

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