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Curriculum Design Tools
The Learning Spiral

What Is the Learning Spiral?
The Learning Spiral is a curriculum design framework to help you construct lessons, activities, or projects that target the development of students' thinking skills and habits of mind. Up front, the Learning Spiral will help you clearly identify the thinking skills and dispositions you want to cultivate in your students. But the Learning Spiral takes you past identification and into implementation. The power behind the Learning Spiral lies in its scaffolding of the design and planning process so that your lessons not only elicit the thinking performances you want from your students, but also sets standards for those performances.

How Does It Work?
The Learning Spiral structures the planning process to address 5 important components of generating thinking-centered lessons and projects. When you use the Learning Spiral to design curriculum, you can explore each component in any order you want. The important thing is to address each component in some thoughtful or creative way. Use the Learning Spiral to help you put the theory and ideas behind the teaching of thinking into practice in concrete ways at the classroom level.

When To Use the Spiral

  • Use the Learning Spiral to help you plan a thinking-centered lesson, unit, or use it to structure an entire project. The Learning Spiral fits readily into the regular curriculum and can be used to help you design thinking-centered lessons in virtually any subject at any grade level.
  • Use the Learning Spiral as a tool to help you develop concrete and practical, thinking-centered lessons that make students' performances of understanding explicit and visible.

Explore the Spiral

The Learning Spiral Learning by Getting Ready Learning from Sources Learning by Doing Learning from Feedback Learning by Thinking Ahead Generative Topic

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© Al Andrade, Harvard Project Zero, 1999
The Thinking Classroom is based on the collective research
and ideas of the Cognitive Skills Group, Harvard Project Zero, 1999

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