Imagine having your whole year planned out before stepping foot in your classroom. Cindy Stofferahn, third grade teacher at Sturgis Elementary School in South Dakota, already knows what she is teaching today, tomorrow and for the rest of the year.
Stofferahn, with the assistance of another teacher, created a binder filled with Illuminations lessons from which she will teach throughout the school year. "I am confident the lessons I am teaching from are beneficial to student learning, because the lessons are inquiry-based and follow the standards I need to teach," said Stofferahn.
Stofferahn has applied the lessons to promote student learning across grade levels, as first and third graders worked to complete the lesson As People Get Older, They Get Taller. Stofferahn and a fellow teacher brought their classes together in order to gather data and chart their results.
The teachers observed that student pairs helped one another throughout the lesson, and coming together allowed older students to actively engage younger students and deepen their learning. "Students were working in groups and supporting each other in their learning," said Stofferahn. "They were openly discussing the lesson. "
Moving forward, Stofferahn plans to continue to use Illuminations lessons that align with the South Dakota third‑grade standards. She encourages her colleagues to use Illuminations as well, because it can often times support the textbook material and-simply put-because it's free.