We design curriculum that explores the "big ideas" behind content standards to help students understand the usefulness and application of what they are learning. We provide students with opportunities to use real data to understand concepts, and encourage students to understand history as it relates to current events that impact their world. Students use technology based tools to promote collaboration. We design instruction that replicates the work of historians, artists, musicians, athletes, sociologists, engineers, researchers, writers, mathematicians, filmmakers, and scientists.
Sharing one's work through display or presentation engages students and makes for better products. When possible, we encourage our students to present learning to experts in the field who can advise their work. Telling one's growth story through his or her own work is a powerful assessment for students.
We provide students with opportunities to reflect on learning through the use of student facing checklists and rubrics in order to celebrate growth and identify opportunities for improvement. The process helps to build students' skills for leadership, critical thinking and innovation.
We encourage students to study exemplar pieces of writing, the process of writers, the thoughts of leaders, the great innovations of history, and reflect on their own work through these lenses. These experiences allow them to benchmark and adapt their own work accordingly and to consider variations on existing discoveries that contribute to further iterations. Examples can come from peers as well.
Students identify what they do well and what they need to work on, own difficult tasks, and wrestle with ambiguity until solutions can be obtained. The assistance of the teacher or a peer is most helpful when a student has pinpointed an area of struggle with specificity. Teaching in new and innovative spaces has helped us to achieve this to a greater degree.