Why Frames Should be one of your Favorite Teaching Tools

kids and depth and complexity

Teachers that have been around the Depth and Complexity world for a while know that we love a good graphic organizer. And nothing comes close to the OG – Frames. When looking for an easy-to-use, naturally differentiated, interdisciplinary tool to leverage in your classroom, look no further. Frames create a learning opportunity that engages students in critical thinking and demands equal effort for all. 

While Frames can be used in an infinite number of ways, here are some of our trainer’s favorite implementation methods:

Pretest with a Frame

Let’s face it; nobody likes to sit through a lecture about something they already know. So why do we do that to our kids? Each year, our students come to our class with varied levels of knowledge and understanding. That means not all students need the same whole group instruction to show a year of growth in the content. The easiest way to assess students’ schema is with a Frame. Simply place the unit or lesson concept in the middle of the Frame and add selected iconic prompts around the outside. Students are given a chance to brain-dump any information they have on the Frame. This exercise gives you a clear picture of what students already know about the content and where you can begin planning. From there, you can create learning groups and differentiated activities that appropriately challenge each student. 

Teacher tip: Have students complete their Frames using a certain color of ink. Hold on to these Frames to reuse at the end of the unit.

Use a Frame to Outline a Lesson or Unit

As students work to grow their understanding of the content, a Frame is a great place to house notes. Frames within a lesson or across a unit help students to meaningfully engage in the material and provide a method for facilitating learning and documenting thinking. A Frame can be used to chronicle reading responses during a literacy lesson, to walk through the phases of understanding and to complete a multi-step math problem, or to record the various aspects of the scientific process during an investigation. Honestly, the sky’s the limit!

Teacher tip: If you have students complete several Frames across the course of a unit, they end up being a fantastic study resource before a test. 

Check for Understanding with a Frame as an Exit Ticket

If you have spent the class period working on a high-stakes concept, you know that an exit ticket is key to check for understanding and fixing any misconceptions. A Frame is the perfect graphic organizer for students to synthesize their learning. The exit tickets can be collected and used to create learning groups the following class period that are based on understanding. This method makes it easy for teachers to develop subsequent lessons that meet all learners’ needs. 

Teacher tip: Be sure to label one section of the Frame with Unanswered Questions to provide students with an opportunity to state any learning gaps or wonderings.

Elevate Summative Assessments with a Frame

Often, summative assessments consist of multiple-choice questions. While this is a quick and easy way to determine mastery of a concept, it generally does not create an environment for critical thinking and can end up being a multiple-guess situation. Attaching a Frame to an assessment is the most natural way to add a layer of differentiation that is authentic and appropriately challenging. This open-ended approach allows students to show their understanding of the content in ways that a multiple-choice test can’t. 

Teacher tip: Hand students back their pretest frame and have them make additions and adjustments with a different color of ink to show their change in understanding. 

Who doesn’t love freebies? Because we want to thank you for using Depth and Complexity with your students, here are a couple of free resources just for you!

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