Academic Focus: Essential Questions

Asking the Four Essential Questions guides us to have an authentic focus on our students’ learning. At Hedges School this year, we are deliberately sharing our academic focus with our students. It seems so simple; however, many times we leave our students out of our planning. We follow manuals, pacing guides, or stick with what we have always taught. Focusing on the Four Essential Questions guides us to reflect and to plan more effectively.

For Teachers:

  1. What do students need to know, understand, and be able to do? (Learning Goals)
  2. How will we determine if the outcome has been accomplished? (Assessments – Formative and Summative)
  3. What strategies will we use to best influence learning?(Strategies, Activities)
  4. What will we do to support students who don’t learn or reach proficiency before expectation? (Intervention and Enrichment)

For Students:

  1. What do I need to know, understand, and be able to do? What is the Learning Goal?
  2. How am I going to show my learning? What is the assessment?
  3. What do I need to do as a learner to achieve the learning goal?
  4. Thinking about my learning…..
    • How am I doing?
    • Have I reached my learning goal?
    • What do I already know?
    • What do I need to work on?

As a team, we have worked diligently to truly understand the common core standards and what the student expectations are for learning. Each grade level has developed essential standards for students. These standards answer question number one and describe what our students need to know and be able to do.  These are not the only learning goals for our students; however, as our students meet proficiency with these standards, they are guaranteed to be well-prepared to succeed in the next trimester and/or the next school year.

Our essential standards are a living document that is revised and updated at the end of each trimester. This has been challenging and worthwhile work for our team! I am grateful for their efforts and dedication to student learning. I am also thankful to one of my favorite mentors, Mike Mattos, for his guidance as we began this endeavor. His passion for students consistently learning at high levels is contagious!

During the next few weeks, our team will increase our focus on question number two. Below is a video of a teacher guiding her students to clearly understand how to show their learning. Learning Goals & Scales. I look forward to sharing our progress toward creating success criteria.

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A Great First Week…GRIT Tested

As I reflect on our first week of school, I cannot remember a time that I began the first week with students with five full days. Collectively, students’ and teachers’ GRIT was tested… and all achieved successfully! This year, Hedges School will focus on a GRIT trait each month.

I was first inspired to understand and motivate our students to become grittier after watching Angela Lee Duckworth’s Ted Talk and reading Paul Tough’s book How Children Succeed. Our Montana Behavioral Initiative (MBI) team was inspired during our summer MBI training to share these traits school wide. I am so proud of this team as they have worked tirelessly to increase positive behavioral interventions and support!