The Critical Skills model of instruction builds powerful lessons in classrooms ranging from pre-K to post-graduate. The model combines experiential learning, problem based learning, and rigorous high standards within an intentionally created collaborative learning community, creating the classrooms that many educators imagine, but can’t quite put together. It is the how in answer to the what of powerful classroom practice. And it was created, continues to be created, by practicing classroom teachers.
The primary methodology in use is the challenge a carefully crafted problem to solve which connects the curriculum to its real-world application. Challenges can be highly complex or quite simple, may take minutes or weeks to complete, and are driven by the state, local, or national subject area curricula as well as by the formative assessment gained via ongoing student reflection. Elementary students may grapple with the problem of selecting the largest apple to present to the principal following a field trip, secondary students might be seeking alternative energy transportation options for the district or creating a new grammar text using only a small set of short stories and newspaper articles. The exact challenges are as diverse as the teachers who create them and the students for whom they are created. But all share three components:
- The students engage
- The students exhibit their learning
- The students debrief their learning
Download sample challenges below (Word format).
Click here to view the Adirondack Challenges: student-centered, K-12 learning activities designed by classroom teachers to specifically help students learn about and develop appreciation for the human and natural history of the Adirondacks, as well as meet state and national learning standards.
Maximizing Math with Math Triath
Maryland Critical Skills Institute Participant Courtney Leard’s website dedicated to her Critical Skills math challenges.