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State Fair Of Texas Curriculum Headed To Classrooms

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Elementary and middle school teachers in North Texas have a new educational tool this fall: the State Fair of Texas.

In a partnership with the education nonprofit Big Thought, the curriculum is aligned with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards and is focused on lessons taught in 4th through 8th grade classrooms.

Subjects covered include math, science, language arts, art, and social studies. The lessons are centered on four core aspects of the State Fair of Texas: the midway/games, livestock/agriculture, food, and Big Tex.

"It's going to be a more fun way to process the standards they have to sit through anyway. In this way, it blends relevance," said Jadyn Harris, an art teacher who helped write the curriculum at Big Thought.
She explains how one lesson for 5th grade math revolves around the carousel. "Students have to find one horse that they like. Sit down, set their phones for one minute, and then watch that particular horse as it goes around, and time it. This will [teach them] about revolutions per minute."

Harris and the other curriculum writers spent the summer exploring the fairgrounds for ideas. Big Tex lesson plans include teaching students to observe crowds and create graphs and charts. They can also learn about landscape architecture by studying the plants and horticulture in the pavilion.

One lesson for 8th graders revolves around State Fair food. Students are encouraged to ask about prices of their favorite fried concoctions, and write down the numbers. They will then create a periodic table of elements based around what they've learned.

Sheila Lyons said, "It's something exciting for us. Something all of us can relate to."

Lyons is a 6th grade math teacher at Hood Middle School in DISD. She attended a teacher training seminar at the fair this summer. Lyons says several of the teachers in her pod plan to conduct a joint lesson after Dallas Independent School District (DISD) students have their Fair Day in mid-October.

"We know the importance of interdisciplinary learning. The real world connection. It's hard in part to get together on a middle school level with a group of teachers with the same process and lesson plan."

Lyons says the State Fair of Texas Curriculum plans are already made – by teachers, for teachers – so it will be easy to utilize. "With that, the kids are engaged. They're motivated by it. Even those who can't go, we might bring a taste of the State Fair to our campus."

Approximately 90 teachers have signed up to participate. Next year the State Fair of Texas hopes to expand the curriculum to include 9th through 12th grades. But the program is not limited to classroom educators: parents interested in downloading and printing some of the lessons for their students to take to the State Fair can click here for information.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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