Competency Based Learning experiences in support of classroom and school change initiatives
- Because you need to move Proficiency or Competency-based learning but you don’t know how and you absolutely don’t love what you’re being given by the big textbook companies.
- Because you want to do the Maker thing- but you’re not quite sure what that means or how you do it.
- Because you want to apply Design Thinking to your classroom practice, but it feels too big, too hard, or too confusing.
- Because you suspect (or you know) that you’re working harder than your students- and that’s not your vision for powerful teaching and learning.
Whether you choose to start with the Level 1 Institute, an online course, or the full MEd Program, the Critical Skills Classroom offers you a set of powerful learning experiences in support of classroom and school change initiatives. It is a simple, elegant structure to help ready students for college and careers.
The Critical Skills Program is a mindset, a way of teaching and learning that supports a wide array of school change initiatives including:
- STEM/ STEAM
- Maker Movement
- Common Core State Standards
- College and Career Readiness
- 21st Century Skills
- International Baccalaureate
- Social- Emotional Learning
- Differentiated Instruction
- Performance Task Design and Implementation
- Designing real-world, problem-based learning experiences
- Shaping safe, collaborative classroom and school cultures
- Integrating critical skill development with content learning
- Implementing competency-based assessment practices
- Achieving substantive and compelling learning for students
Our program faculty and staff are experienced master teachers and leaders who have significant experience and success implementing this Critical Skills Classroom model and have completed advanced Critical Skills and leadership training. This program has been bringing the Critical Skills Classroom to schools throughout New England and elsewhere for more than twenty years.
The Critical Skills were identified through an extensive and unique collaboration among educators, business people, government officials, and community leaders. The work of this task force was to examine and articulate the skills critical for success to meet the many demands in today’s complex and ever-changing world. These are the skills needed by all graduates from our schools and should be a classroom focus, alongside the subject matter, at all grade levels.
- Problem Solving
- Decision Making
- Critical Thinking
- Creative Thinking
The Critical Skills Classroom is a comprehensive model that creatively and effectively integrates four powerful teaching methodologies into a coherent strategy:
- Collaborative Learning
- Experiential Learning
- Problem-Based Learning
- Standards-Driven Learning
Working together these methodologies provide teachers and students the means to simultaneously and intentionally:
- Build and sustain a strong, supportive classroom learning community
- Target the curriculum in ways that provide both a depth of understanding and meaningful learning
- Develop the critical skills and fundamental dispositions
- Meet or exceed the demands of district and state frameworks and standards
Students in a Critical Skills Classroom:
- Frequently work as learning teams and groups
- Actively solve academic problems, scenarios, and real-world problems
- Make public presentations and exhibitions of their learning
- Systematically reflect on what they are doing and learning
- Focus on standards of quality for their work
- Take shared responsibility and ownership of their learning and for the classroom community
Teachers in A Critical Skills Classroom:
- Model, guide, coach and support the learning process
- Design learning activities that are carefully connected and built on one another
- Incorporate targeted learning standards to guide the classroom culture, curriculum, and assessment
The Critical Skills Program aligns with Learning Forwards’ standards for professional learning and with the Common Principles of the Coalition of Essential Schools. Download the principles here.
- Benefits of the critical skills approach for children and teachers
- Challenges explained by teacher and roles in team adopted by the children
- Development of Independence Through Teamwork
- Establishing criteria for behaviour and learning
- Students Work as a Team
- Students Solve Problems
- Students Exhibit Their Learning
- Students Reflect
- Quality Criteria (Assessment)
- Teachers Coach
- Targeted Skills & Dispositions
- Interconnection of Work
- Student Ownership of Learning
Let us help you find opportunity in the Common Core
The Common Core State Standards require teachers to do some things differently – we all know that. The big questions are which things, and how? How can we use the Common Core to shift the hard work of learning onto the students?
The Critical Skills Program can help you get from here to there – and make you a better teacher in the process. Good teachers know that the learner does the learning and the Common Core will require us to shift the hard work off of our own shoulders and on to the shoulders of our students.
Critical Skills teachers design meaningful, problem-based lessons that make the content area reading, research, critical thinking, writing, and presentations required by the Common Core the norm in their classrooms.
Because the CSP focuses on the intentional, simultaneous targeting of content and process, it provides a vehicle by which teachers can put content in context and help students to practice the skills necessary to make the content work in real-life settings. That’s going to require us to learn to be facilitators, designing experiences that allow the kids to engage with real content while guided and supported by teachers. The Critical Skills Program teaches you how to create a classroom where students and teachers work together to create a safe, challenging learning environment – just the kind of places we’ll need to create if we’re going to meet the challenges of the Common Core. It can help you create problem-based learning experiences that improve student learning experiences and help you to become the kind of facilitative instructor you’d like to become.
For a more detailed overview, click here to read our white paper, The Critical Skills Program: A Problem Based Approach to Implementing the Common Core
Want to learn more? Contact our office for more information!