What's a "Curricular Framework"
What's a "Curricular Framework"
and how is that different from a curriculum?
Stepping Stones is a revolutionary way to organize the World Language curriculum.
It is a “curricular framework,” and not a fixed curriculum.
That means that instead of providing the content and the structure, it provides the structure, into which you can insert an almost-unlimited variety of content.
(But, if you want some content to use within the framework, we got you there, too. And, good news -- it’s FREE! Yes, we have produced a whole “ Free Year of Curriculum” in English, Spanish, French, and German (and part of the year in Italian and Latin) that you can use to implement Stepping Stones for a whole year, if you just want to use that specific content while you get your bearings with the curricular framework.)
So, a “curricular framework” provides the structure, into which you can insert an almost-unlimited variety of content. Most curricula provide the structure and the content. For example, a quick search on Teachers Pay Teachers for “French unit” returned these results (click thumbnail to play video):
La Nourriture Un Camion Restaurant French Food Unit
La famille - A French "family" unit with AVOIR
French Revolution Unit - PPTs, Worksheets, Plans, Test
Les Vêtements - French Clothing unit
Beginner French Animals Unit
Je me presente - French "All About Me" Unit
These units provide both the content (Restaurants, Animals, Family) and the structure. For example, one of the above units gives you (among other things):
✅Food vocabulary list/ word wall cards
✅Reading/writing response on food truck facts
✅food truck surveys - likes and dislikes
✅naming your food truck and designing a logo
✅write a recipe and create a menu
✅design and describe your food truck
So, you have here the content (food vocabulary, adjectives to describe the food truck, readings on food trucks) as well as the process or strategies -- making a food truck and conducting a survey, etc.
NOT Bashing, Just GROWING! 🌱
Note to the reader: I’m not trying to bash this unit. It’s actually really cute and fun and creative. And most curriculum is exactly the same. And I would neve have known any different myself, if it weren’t for Lucy Calkins and the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP). So I’m one to talk, right?
The TCRWP’s amazing trainings and materials taught me a curricular framework for teaching reading and writing, and the combination of structure plus freedom allowed me to grow exponentially as a teacher in my first three years of my career.
I basically applied those same principles of instructional design to Stepping Stones. And, as far as I know, it’s the only curricular framework for World Language teaching out there. I’ve never seen anything like it for language teachers. That’s why I’m so incredibly passionate and committed to it.
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https://ci-liftoff.helpscoutdocs.com/article/92-whats-frameworkPosted by Stepping Stones for World Language on Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Because I want to do for you what Lucy and the TCRWP did for me. They took away ALL the overwhelm. And, let me tell you. In my first year of teaching English Language Arts, I was SO very overwhelmed. My poor students didn;t know from day to day what the heck we were doing, because I, as their teacher, didn;t even know where we were actually going.
Till I went to Lucy after that first wild year. They took away literally ALL of the overwhelm, and they replaced it with structure and certainty and safety and calm.
But, amazingly, my teaching didn’t feel “lockstep” or “rigid” or “mechanical.”
The amazing thing was that all this structure still managed to leave me with plenty of freedom.
But not too much freedom! (Because that would just lead right back to overwhelm, right?)
It was this perfect balance of finding my own voice and uncovering my own stories, and safely following their structure and example lessons.
In fact, in my first two years of using their frameworks, I basically taught right out of their books. Like literally word for word (even down to cribbing stories off of other teachers and telling them as if they had actually happened to me!)
Yeah, the first year and a half, I just followed, because that was all I could handle. But those years taught me how to use the structure, and then I was able to start switching out content, and I became so confident, and so free and it felt so safe and yet fresh and new...well, that’s what I want for you.
So much. I want that for you, so, so much.
I planned Stepping Stones for you to have that same very structured and planned and supportive framework that leads you and your students through a meaningful trajectory over the course of the term, year, or series of courses in your language program.
But, I also planned it so that it is, for all practical purposes, infinitely adaptable as well.
That’s great news for teachers who share the program with other colleagues who might not want to teach the exact same content but still want to have a seamless, articulated program as students move from classroom to classroom. It’s good news for teachers who have multiple levels, too, since all their classes can “cover” the same instructional cycles and use very similar assessment materials and methods, but still explore different content, to keep each level fresh and interesting as students grow through the years.
🧩 Examples 🧩
It probably helps to have a concrete example of how this works.
Let’s take Cycle One, Description, Phase One, “Describing Settings” as an example. A “phase” is one of the parts of a “cycle” and there are four per cycle. Each “phase” lasts about a week and two days (but could be stretched or shrunk depending). This is the very first phase.
If you had three first-year French classes, two second-year French classes, and two third-year classes, you might do this:
First year: Describing the weather using the calendar (that’s like the MOST BASIC setting description, but you got to start somewhere)
Second year: Describing the weather using the calendar (reviewing is good, right?) and comparing/contrasting it to the weather in various parts of the world
Third year: Describing the weather using the calendar (reviewing is good, even for those third-years) and comparing/contrasting it to the weather in various parts of the world, AND reading/discussing historical weather data and texts about climate, weather, the current climate crisis and its impact on communities of color throughout the world, and historical climate fluctuations.
OR...you could use totally different content. So, your “Cycle One Phase One, Describing Settings” could look like this, too:
First year: Describing various pictures of classrooms around the school building and some pictures of classrooms around the world
Second year: Describing various pictures of classrooms around the school building and some pictures and/or short video clips of classrooms around the world, and leading the class to make inferences about the cultural perspectives that might be derived from the products/practices depicted in the images/videos.
Third year: Describing various pictures of classrooms around the school building and some pictures and/or short video clips of classrooms around the world, as well as images/videos of “separate but equal” classrooms under various systems of apartheid both in the US and abroad, and leading the class to make inferences about the cultural perspectives that might be derived from the products/practices depicted in the images/videos, and how the current situation compares to the historical situation(s) depicted.
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I know this represents a big old mind shift. But it’s my sincere hope that these concrete examples help to get your mind a-shifting.
Introduction to the Stepping Stones Curricular Framework
Stepping Stones Scope and Sequence
🚀 RESOURCES 🔥
Want More Support? Curriculum Club might be just the ticket!
Visit our Teachers Pay Teachers store to get the Year of Free Curriculum in Spanish, French, English, and German (and partially completed in Latin and Italian).
Resources on the Cycles and Phases
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