There are two words Dallas ISD teachers are excited about as they prepare this year’s lesson plans: “Amplify” and “Eureka.” Each is a lesson-planning program that maps out a base curriculum for students and teachers. All district campuses began using the programs on the first day of the 2023-2024 school year.
Anson Jones Elementary School, the first to pilot the Amplify program three years ago, has already seen tremendous growth in students’ academic success. The program embeds elements of social studies and science within the text they’re reading. And the word problems students come across in math class will often include terminology and scenarios that are rooted in science. In this way, students are able to build connections across all subjects.
“We have really seen an improvement since we were a pilot school. We’ve seen an increase in their achievement, which is our number one goal,” said Marisa Saenz, assistant principal at Anson Jones Elementary. “Amplify has several opportunities for students to discuss what they’re learning with their peers. That’s really helpful for them to learn from each other in addition to what they’re learning from the teacher.”
Amplify, an English Language Arts program, and Spanish Language Arts program, is helping Anson Jones Elementary students improve their writing skills. The school started off with the Amplify curriculum for grades three through six three years ago and introduced it to all grades the following year. It includes guiding questions and reading materials to prompt students to think at a higher level and participate in authentic discussions with their peers as well as in-depth analysis of their reading.
Eureka, the mathematics program, assists teachers by providing detailed instructions and videos on how to teach mathematical concepts. Last year, it was only available for fourth and fifth grades, but this year the entire campus has been benefiting from the math portion of the curriculum. At the beginning of last year, not many of Yamileth Cedillos’ students at Anson Jones knew how to write a sentence. By the end of the year, they were able to craft fluent sentences, which helped them understand word problems and become better note takers.
“The book is basically scripted out, everything’s done,” Cedillos said of the curriculum. “I don’t have to worry about lesson planning. I don’t have to worry about knowing what texts I’m going to be using in the next couple of weeks; it’s already there. What I like about it is they provide us with the manipulatives, which include the place value disks, shapes and rulers, and it incorporates everything.”
Both teaching programs provide a plethora of resources for teachers to take advantage of and use as an opportunity for collaboration with other instructors. “A lot of the teachers say the information within the pre-planning of the lesson is very helpful so they can plan a quality lesson for their students and do not have to spend so much time writing a lesson plan,” Saenz said. “We’re very grateful. I’m so glad we piloted it.”
Dallas ISD Superintendent Stephanie S. Elizalde has high expectations for the new programs. “We’ll be teaching kids a rich and engaging – and on-grade-level – curriculum,” she said. “And the best part is that each of our amazing teachers will be getting lesson plans aligned with state standards. That means you don’t have to spend hours every night planning the next day’s lessons. Instead, you can use that time to think of how you want to teach and reach our students.”