Benny Ramsey's first grade class at Crestview Elementary walked behind two students carrying a box full of homemade play-dough, decorated suckers and book marks; all items used to promote their business, the First Grade Star Store.


Each student made or helped make these products to sell in the spirit of learning about local commerce through a project based learning unit called Goods and Services. 



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The teaching technique, known as vertical alignment, matches required Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills curriculum that all teachers within the state must meet. Project based learning units give students a hands-on way of storing information through each grade level. 


“(Some teachers) have not (officially) been trained yet on these units, but we will this summer,” Ramsey said. “I wanted to get our feet wet, so I found another school (online, who was practicing the Goods and Services Unit), and made it fit our social studies TEKS to cover for the fifth six weeks.”


Project-based learning units vary in each subject, last anywhere from three days to three weeks and are taught periodically throughout the school year.  


In the Goods and Services unit, students learn the purpose and importance of advertising to sell their products, the finer points of sales tactics, public speaking, supply and demand and what goods and services are. Students then take proceeds raised from sales and donate them to the Young County Humane Society.


“The challenge of instruction is not only ‘How I do I deliver the material,' but it's also ‘Am I delivering the correct material for my grade level and for my students, and am I doing it in the correct order,'” said Gary Browning, curriculum director for Graham Independent School District. “In the past, when districts were less vertically aligned, our goal originally was to make sure we are aligned so we're not repeating certain content and that we're not missing any content.”


Browning said that GISD's curriculum has two parts, including state standards (TEKS), and alignment.


Read more in Sunday's Graham Leader.