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    Secondary Curriculum in Denton ISD

    Denton ISD defines “curriculum” as the planned pathway for learning, which includes learning goals and standards, assessments and evidence, and learning experiences. Our district’s curriculum is standards-driven, robust, relevant, culturally responsive, and clearly articulated through the use of the Understanding By Design (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005) (backward design) process, which requires a focus on developing and deepening student understanding through the use of complex, authentic learning opportunities.


    Curriculum - Philosophy and Development

    Denton ISD has internally developed a written curriculum that reflects the standards of each course and grade-level and provides specific support, including but not limited to lesson resources, real-world applications, exemplar lessons, formative assessment items, and articulation of the vertical alignment of knowledge and skills.   (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005)

    Using the backward design model, the curriculum development process establishes a strong curricular foundation that invites meaningful adaptations of the curriculum documents for use in the Denton ISD classrooms. Each unit developed from this process is named and specifically identified. Constructed unit guides are published and stored on the district’s internal, password protected server.

    Within the curriculum development process, these guiding questions are explored and answered:

    • What should students know, understand, and be able to do? (Stage 1)
    • What is it we want students to be able to do with what they have learned? (Stage 1)
    • What enduring understandings are desired? (Stage 1)
    • What essential questions will be explored in-depth and provide focus to all learning? (Stage 1)
    • How will we know if participants have achieved the desired results? (Stage 2)
    • What will we accept as evidence of student understanding? (Stage 2)
    • What will we accept as evidence of a student’s ability to transfer their learning to new situations? (Stage 2) (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005)

    Denton ISD secondary teachers follow the district developed scope and sequence which supports a coherent, logical sequence of learning in each of the core contents. Teachers access and use the district curriculum documents (stored on an internal, password protected DISD server). Pacing guides and unit information are available internally (on the “Curriculum Year at a Glance Document”) and include an overview of each course, providing unit titles, big ideas and standards covered by unit and semester.


    Curriculum and Instructional Materials

    Curriculum materials and assessments used in the Denton ISD classrooms are high quality, district-selected/supported, and TEKS/ELPS-aligned.

    Teachers implement the English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) by incorporating reading, speaking, listening, and writing activities suitable for the remote environment.

    As the content experts, Denton ISD teachers adapt and curate instructional materials that help learners learn and reinforce concepts, master the course content, and retain knowledge via flexible and interactive instruction, tutoring, and personalized feedback. (NSQ, p. 18)

    Teachers access and use the materials and resources listed in the linked “Denton ISD Instructional Resources” document. These print and digital texts and subscriptions are district-recommended, supported, and provided for teacher and student .

    TEKS-aligned and research-based resources purchased or developed for use by students in general education, ESL, special education, and EXPO-Gifted and Talented include (but are not limited to):

    • Reading and writing workshop text collections for grades 9 and 10
    • Mathematics interactive learning platform for grade 6-12 math courses
    • Online, interactive platform for science lab remote simulations in MS and HS
    • eBook editions of texts for social studies AP courses
    • eBook collections for book club texts in grades 6-10
    • Digital collections of non-fiction texts for ELA, social studies, SEL, and science in grades K-12, with built-in differentiation features
    • Teachers College Units of Study Virtual Instructional Resources for grades K-8
    • Platform subscription for access to support social-emotional learning
    • Digital student access for music and instructional resources for band, choir, and orchestra
    • Curated collections of online text sets aligned to TEKS and curriculum for ELA grades 6-12
    • Resources from Texas Home Learning

    In Denton ISD secondary classrooms, learning management systems support the delivery of instructional materials and digital tools. Teachers leverage technology data-tracking, assignments, student check-ins in Canvas.  Teachers adapt instructional materials for use in the LMS where appropriate to create a more interactive experience.  Teachers access Canvas through the Denton SSO (Single Sign-On). 


    Progress Monitoring Guiding Principles

    Plans for measuring expected student progress are developed in advance, defined by day, tied to the course syllabus, and reflective of the overall course design. Teachers’ expectations for students’ daily interactions with academic content is clear -- including the means for engagement. Daily, trackable student engagement exists to ensure curricular progress.

    Instructional practice is informed by the progress monitoring and assessment plans and systems. Assessments used for progress monitoring are selected to ensure that teachers, students, and parents have ongoing information on student progress. 

    All students in special programs (e.g., SPED, Dual Language, ESL, Dyslexia, Reading Recovery, Reading Intervention, Math Intervention, Expo-Gifted and Talented, Advanced Placement, and dual credit) receive instruction, accommodations, and resources based on their corresponding program requirements.

    Teachers use district assessments for progress monitoring. Teachers access district-identified assessments identified in the middle school and high school assessment calendars. 


    Grading Practices and Guidelines

    Denton ISD beliefs about assessment and professional practices related to grades and grading can be found on the Denton ISD website on the Grading Practices page. 


    Assessment for Learning

    Teachers in Denton ISD apply the principles of Assessment for Learning:  

    Strategy 1:

    Provide clear and understandable vision of the learning target.

    Strategy 2:

    Use examples and models of strong and weak work.

    Strategy 3:

    Offer regular descriptive feedback during the learning.

    Strategy 4:

    Teach students to self-assess and set goals for next steps.

    Strategy 5:

    Use evidence of student learning to determine next steps in teaching.

    Strategy 6:

    Design focused instruction, followed by practice.

    Strategy 7:

    Provide opportunities for students to track, reflect on, and share their progress.

    (Chappuis, 2015)



    Student feedback is provided from instructors at least weekly and includes next steps for necessary academic remediation to improve performance. Teachers schedule student/teacher interactions on a regular basis to ensure students are accessing and responding to the provided student feedback. An accurate record of feedback is maintained. This can be kept in the learning management system (Canvas) or in another system the teacher creates. Regardless of the system, at the end of each grading period, a grade report is provided.

    • Feedback can be initiated by the student, in conjunction with self- or peer-assessment.
    • Feedback includes strategies to help the student re-engage and grow understandings.
    • Students need time to act on the feedback and improve their learning.
    • Feedback is most effective when it takes place as conversation (or has a conversational tone).
    • Too much feedback can be overwhelming.
    • Feedback can be used to build on the relationship between the teacher and student.

    Feedback for English Learners includes using all tools and resources mentioned above to address language development targets.