In one of our first social studies team meetings at my current high school where I am gainfully employed as a teacher I remember(3 years ago) our curriculum director talking to us all about spiraling items in our curriculum. I have to admit I was a bit lost but after asking I quickly caught on. We were concerned about making sure we were all teaching the most essential and necessary items (our self proclaimed "power standards") in our classrooms with consistency and we were also developing common assessments to help know how we were doing in this regard. It was aobvious looking at the TEKS that certain themes just carried over from 8th grade U.S. History to High School World History. Themes of revolutions and the history of freedom and democracy are jsut a few examples that "spiral" throughout the currriculum. We simply tried to find more capable ways to help learners understand these concepts sharing and utilizing a variety of methods. It has been quite successful.
The TEKS for technology applications spiral in much the same way. In elementary school student slearn to "start and exit programs as well as create, name, and save files" while in middle school the goal is to "demonstrate knowledge and appropriate use of operating systems, software applications, and communication and networking components". The high school foundations TEK for technology is worded exactly as the previous sentence. Got the idea? The bibg picture is the big picture but for most of us to get it we really have to view it in a variety of ways and over differing periods of time.