Inspired Curriculum

Nicole Smith

Second semester is often a time that we reflect on the past and look forward to the future. For Educators, it is a time to think about the impact that we have made on our students so far, what strategies and methods were effective and which ones we will have to change. Often, change is one of the most difficult things to do. Ron Edmonson says that one of the reasons that change is so difficult is because of the fear of the unknown. We resist those things that we are uncertain of the outcome. I challenge you this semester to resist the fear of change and try something new. Try a new teaching strategy, a new method, a new lesson or even a new perspective on our already existing tasks and struggles.

Keep in mind that our areas of focus this year are student engagement, higher order thinking and writing. I hope that this edition of the newsletter will help you as you create fantastic lessons and activities for our students.

The time that we have with our students is quickly coming to an end, let's make the next few months be the best we have had so far.

Let's Celebrate Our Teachers

Westlawn Creativity

Great Free Websites to Checkout

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Newsela - Leveled texts for all subjects

  • High-interest news articles are updated daily in a simple, clean design that focuses on the texts and supporting images. When kids read right at (or just above) their level, they're much more likely to be engaged.
  • Kids can read texts at multiple levels, in both English and Spanish, without compromising depth or relevance. Brief comprehension quizzes, annotation exercises, and writing prompts help kids respond and demonstrate their understanding.
  • Options for both English and Spanish offer great access. The ability to adjust reading levels makes for an excellent, flexible reading experience. Definitions of key terms could help boost comprehension and improve access even further.
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Newsela Tips and Tricks


WISE provides an Internet-based platform for middle and high school science activities

where students work collaboratively on inquiry projects, making use of "Evidence" from the Web. WISE projects range in duration from 2 days to 4 weeks, providing inquiry topics for teachers in grades 4 to 14.

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Big image is an info-graphic creation tool that guides users to build visual and text representations of a concept or idea. At times as an instructor, it is necessary to display information in creative ways. For instance, a teacher can document factual information through infographics. This technology tool allows an instructor to add pictures and symbols as well as graphs and charts to present information in a bright and colorful format. Students can use this tool to synthesize information they have learned.
How to Make an Infographic with
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Super Strategies


Jigsaw is a strategy that emphasizes cooperative learning by providing students an opportunity to actively help each other build comprehension. Use this technique to assign students to reading groups composed of varying skill levels. Each group member is responsible for becoming an "expert" on one section of the assigned material and then "teaching" it to the other members of the team

When to use

Use Jigsaw at any point in the lesson to structure meaningful conversation across a wide range of material. Use it when you are:

  • Building background knowledge on a unit of study
  • Conducting an author study before beginning a new novel
  • Learning about different viewpoints on a historical event or discovery
  • Focusing on complementary – or divergent – concepts in a unit of study
  • Reviewing different aspects of a unit of study to prepare for an assessment
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Choice Boards for Differentiation

Check out this video


A menu offers students a way to make decisions about what they will do in order to meet class requirements. A menu could be for a single lesson, a week-long lesson, or even a month-long period of study. Once the teacher has decided on what the essential understandings and/or skills are, she/he can begin to create a menu.
1. Identify the most important elements of a lesson or unit.
2. Create an imperative or required assignment or project that reflects the minimum
understanding you expect all students to achieve.
3. Create negotiables which expand upon the main dish or imperative assignment or
project. These negotiables often require students to go beyond the basic levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. For example, they often include activities that require synthesis, analysis, or evaluation.
4. Create a final optional section that offers students the opportunity for enrichment.
The optional section often reflects activities that students can use for extra credit.
Author Rick Wormeli suggests placing the menu options in a restaurant menu style (see below) that could include appetizers, a main dish, side dishes, and even desserts. He suggests the following format.
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Tic-Tac-Toe choice boards give students the opportunity to participate in multiple tasks that allow them to practice skills they’ve learned in class or to demonstrate and extend their understanding of concepts. From the board, students either choose or are assigned three adjacent or diagonal tasks to complete.
Choice boards address student readiness, interest, or learning preferences. They are easily adapted to a subject area.
1. Identify the outcomes and instructional focus of a unit of study.
2. Use assessment data and student profiles to determine student readiness, learning styles, or
3. Design nine different tasks.
4. Arrange the tasks on a choice board.
5. Select one required task for all students. Place it in the center of the board.
6. Students complete three tasks, one of which must be the task in the middle square.
The three tasks should complete a Tic-Tac-Toe row.
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Nicole Smith

Curriculum Specialist