FREE Depth and Complexity Icon Posters




If you are using any of my Depth and Complexity resources, you are going to love the FREE posters I have designed for your classroom. These visual aids are affective mnemonic devices that will help your students understand and apply the 11 "thinking tools" of Depth and Complexity.  After much thought and consideration, I introduce to you my icons for Depth and Complexity!


For Details and Big Ideas, I used a leaf and tree, respectively.  These images are more analogous to the relationship between Details and Big Ideas.  A tree represents the "big picture" or general idea, which would be comprised of many details (leaves).  
One of the first images that comes to mind when I think of Patterns is pattern blocks. Hence, the use of hexagons for this icon.  However, since Depth and Complexity can be used with students K-12, the hexagons also remind me of molecular structures, which might be a good frame of reference if you are working with older students.
Across disciplines is represented by three overlapping circles.  As we know, multidisciplinary connections do not occur in a linear fashion. Topics within different subjects overlap in various degrees.
When we ask our students to examine and evaluate Trends, we want them to think about how various topics gain and lose popularity (or notoriety). The double line graph serves as an effective reminder that trends do not occur in isolation and always have contributing or coinciding factors.  
I can't think of a better representation of Ethics than a scale. Asking students to examine what is "right" or "wrong" in ambiguous situations, truly requires them to "weigh" both sides of an issue.  
Relate Over Time is the category that explores how things change (or stay the same over time).  The arrows represent change and the clock represents time (ok, pretty obvious, right?).
Unanswered Questions allow us to ponder unclear, ambiguous, or inconclusive information. Students should also be aware of Unanswered Questions when a claim is made without sufficient support and/or evidence.  
The Multiple Perspectives category requires students explore ideas, thoughts, and feelings of those that they may not identify with.  Perspectives can range dramatically, which is why I used a telescope with a magnifying glass in this icon.  
The basis of language is communication.  Communication, by definition, requires interaction between two or more people. Language of the Discipline is not the mere proper use of terms and/or words within a subject.  It is the mastery of language with the end goal of communicating effectively.  The two speech bubbles represent the interactive nature of language.  

When I think of Rules, I think of "if-then". IF X occurs, THEN Y will happen. Flowcharts are used as a visual representation of "if-then" processes. Flowcharts provide people with an idea of expected outcomes or a process sequence (both are based on rules). Rules also follow a hierarchy, which is also represented in the icon design.

I hope you find these posters useful in your classroom! I have provided them in color and and black-and-white.  Please check out my other Depth and Complexity resources!



This resource was created based on the Depth and Complexity framework, which was developed by Dr. Sandra Kaplan under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement: “Differentiating the Core Curriculum and Instruction to Provide Advanced Learning Opportunities” (1994); “Curriculum Project T.W.O.” (1992); “Think Like a Disciplinarian” (1997).

Teaching Word Analogies


Using word analogies with your students is one of the most effective ways build vocabulary and critical thinking skills. Analogies force students to examine the relationships between words, and in doing so, they gain a better understanding of the subtle nuances of word meanings.  Because of their great instructional value, I include analogy word work in my language spiral reviews and Greek and Latin vocabulary programs.  

I often hear from teachers that they love using my analogies, but that they can be difficult to introduce to students. To assist with this, I have created a FREE Types of Analogies Mini-Book for you to share with your students.

The mini-book is pretty simple to assemble.  Simply fold (in both directions) on the grey lines.  Then cut on the dotted lines.  Your students can keep these handy and use as a reference with they need help with completing analogies.


Hope you are your students get great use out of this little "teaching tool"!

The Benefits of Daily Spiral Review

The benefits of daily spiral review
I can vividly remember the spring of my first year teaching.  A very well-intended colleague put a stack of review packets into my mailbox since testing season was just a few weeks away! Sweet!!! I flipped through the pages with confidence and satisfaction as I thought to myself "my kids know all of this!" Well, so I had thought.  The next day we used a few of the pages in class and I was shocked. So many of my students struggled with concepts that they had nailed way back in October, November, and even just the month before! I felt like I had failed my students and began to frantically try to prepare them for the test. We spent the next few weeks in "fire drill" mode as we reviewed the test-prep materials ad nauseam (my poor students). These weeks were definitely not my proudest moments as a teacher, and I vowed to never again put my students through test-prep boot camp.

I needed something that would keep concepts fresh in my students' minds throughout the year. Something that would allow them the repetition and practice they needed, without adding a lot to their workloads. After doing a little research, I discovered the concept of "Daily Spiral Review".

Daily Spiral Review consists of 3-5 daily (M-Th) tasks that cycle through all content standards on a weekly basis. This means that students are getting exposure to all concepts on a regular basis all year long.  This was really a game-changer for me and my students!

The Benefits of Spiral Review:

1. "Perfect Portions": Daily Spiral Review tasks are "bite sized" pieces that are easy to fit into your day and do not overwhelm your students. 

2. "Preview Power": Since Daily Spiral Reviews cover all standards, students are exposed to concepts that they may not have had formal instruction on. This presents a great opportunity for you to build background knowledge and assess where your students are before you even teach a specific lesson; that is POWERFUL!

3. "Unfamiliar Content": As mentioned above, students will encounter concepts they are unfamiliar with.  This is a GOOD thing, I promise! Not to get too philosophical, but life is all about facing unknowns. We don't always have the answers or know the procedures to solve problems.  It's healthy to expose students to "unknowns"; they become less sensitive to the uncomfortable feeling of "not knowing" and are less likely to panic.

4. "Improves Retention": The repetition and consistent work throughout the year ensures that your students will not forget things taught in the fall (or even the week before;-).

5. "Confidence Booster": After just a few weeks they become much more confident and sure of their own math skills. It's really satisfying to see students get so efficient with the review.  

6. "Ultimate Assessment": Talk about having your finger on the pulse of all your students! When you use consistently use a spiral review with your students, you REALLY know their strengths and needs.  This valuable insight will allow you to perfectly tailor your instruction to meet the needs of your students.

7. "Bye Test-Prep": No more kill-and-drill test prep!!! Your students will be prepared and confident when it comes to high-stakes testing.


Getting Started with Spiral Review:

1. "Create Content": If you're going to make your own daily spiral review, you'll need to find content.  When I started out, I used the content standards and made a question and/or task bank for each standard.

2. "Organize it": You don't want to have more than 5 questions/tasks a day, so map out which standards you want to cover on what days and then plug in what you created from step 1. If you need a starting point, you can download some free Daily Spiral Reviews below. 
FREE 3rd Grade Language Spiral Review - 1 Week
FREE 3rd Grade Math Spiral Review - 2 Weeks
FREE 4th Grade Language Spiral Review - 1 Week
FREE 4rd Grade Math Spiral Review - 2 Weeks
FREE 5th Grade Language Spiral Review - 1 Week
FREE 5th Grade Math Spiral Review - 2 Weeks
FREE 6th Grade Language Spiral Review - 1 Week
FREE 6th Grade Math Spiral Review - 2 Weeks
FREE 7th Grade Language Spiral Review - 1 Week
FREE 8th Grade Language Spiral Review - 1 Week

3. "Model it": I find that the best way to use this is to begin with whole group lessons where you model and discuss each of the activities. This takes a bit of time, but it is well-worth the effort. This process can take 3-5 weeks, depending on your students. Soon it "clicks" with your students and they will take off.

4. "Transfer it": After a few weeks, the students really start grasping the format and you can begin to transfer the workload to them. Eventually, when the students are working independently on the review, you will simply spend time correcting and discussing their work in class. At this point you can use the review for centers, homework, morning work, bell-ringers, exit slips... etc.

5. "Discuss it": If your students are completing these independently, you MUST carve out time during the day to correct and discuss their work.  This is when they will get valuable feedback from you and will allow you to assess student learning. Daily feedback is important, and I always left Friday open to review any particular concepts the students struggled with during the week.

You can check out all of my 36-Week Daily Spiral Reviews below:
3rd Grade Daily Spiral Reviews
4th Grade Daily Spiral Reviews
5th Grade Daily Spiral Reviews
6th Grade Daily Spiral Reviews
7th Grade Daily Spiral Review (Language Only)
8th Grade Daily Spiral Review (Language Only)

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