K-3 Foundational Skills with Curriculum Storyboards

K-3 Foundational Skills

Can Heidi Hayes Jacobs’ and Allison Zmuda’s Curriculum Storyboards model work for foundational skills? Curriculum writers at Shaler Area School District showed that it absolutely could with their K-3 Foundational Skills storyboards.

“When we first started, we had absolutely no idea what we were doing,” said Shaler first grade teacher Brunella Truby to Zmuda during a Live stream for Curriculum Storyboards.

“But once you and Heidi started to explain this and we had a better understanding, we had to really take a hard look at everything that we were teaching, and then pick and choose. We had to look and focus on what our goals were, and I think this provides that clarity of goals instead of just a multitude of standards that sometimes even overlap.”

Zmuda was especially drawn to the playful titles – “Stuck Like Glue,” “Blend Up New Words,” “Snipping Syllables” – which Truby and fellow Shaler first grade teacher Darla Hursh came up with on their car ride home from the PASCD Conference.

“I was sitting in the backseat and Darla was driving and Amy (Scariot) was sitting in the front, and we couldn’t stop,” said Truby. “We were in that mode. So I had a tablet in the back and we’re looking, ‘Okay, unit one, what could be the title for this?’

“We had to think of what we were teaching for that unit and then come up with a cute title. So these titles did come from the road trip home.”

Coordinator of Academic Services at Shaler Area School District Eloise Milligan was quick to articulate that the excitement around the storyboard concept hadn’t stopped since that road trip home from the conference.

“This group is tremendous and I wish I could infuse their power into everyone because they just have not stopped,” she said. “They've talked about it continuously. They've trained their colleagues and we are on a roll and we can't thank you enough for providing us with that opportunity.”

An ‘aha’ moment for the Shaler Area School District team as it pertains to Curriculum Storyboards is the amount of curriculum that has to be covered in a K-3 ELA curriculum. Milligan says the team came together and asked themselves, “How does that look in a storyboard?”

“It became very clear to us that we couldn’t just have one storyboard, we couldn’t have one just for reading,” she said. “It had to be a reading storyboard, a foundational skills storyboard, and had to be a writing-slash-grammar storyboard for our students.

1st Grade Foundational Skills
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“So we decided K-3, that was an area we were going to focus on. We were going to create three separate boards for parents to view, for students to view, and for teachers to use as a guide.”

That approach of integrating Curriculum Storyboards with one specific group instead of a school- or district-wide overhaul is one that Zmuda recommends as it is less overwhelming and can get teams acclimated to the process.

“The team’s done such a beautiful job because this storyboard has an aspect of playfulness and heart and energy, and again, that’s really the secret sauce of the design of Curriculum Storyboards,” she said.

“They’re approachable, but they’re also actionable. So it’s clear not only from a teacher’s perspective, but students are also beginning to see, ‘What are you expecting from me and how can I be part of that journey along the way that continues to grow my foundational skills so that I can become a better reader, writer, and communicator?’”

To learn more about integrating Curriculum Storyboards into your school or district, contact us!

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