Essential School Project

By: Cassie and Alisha

Ten Components

1. Collaboration in the Classroom

2. Usage of Technology

3. Rigorous Curriculum For All

4. Data Driven

5. Community Involvement

6. Professional Learning Communities

7. Problem Solving/Critical Thinking

8. Least Restrictive Environment For All

9. Wellness Driven

10. Quality Teachers and Staff

Collaboration in the Classroom

  • Students are engaged in a high-level task, discussing or debating an issue, making shared decisions, and designing a product together that demonstrates their learning.
  • Students need to be held accountable in participating by having group norms.
  • Teaches students to be good listeners, which is a rare find and is valued in our culture.
  • Teaches students how to ask good questions.
  • Teaches students how to negotiate by listening well, showing patience and flexibility, pointing out shared ideas, and being able to think under pressure.
  • Students will be successful in the real world because they will have the ability to effectively facilitate a group.
  • More higher level learning is done and remembered when it is done collaboratively.

Alber, R. (2012, December 31). Deeper Learning: A Collaborative Classroom Is Key. Retrieved October 24, 2014, from rebecca-alber

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Uses of Technology

  • With the use of technology as a tool or a way to communicate with others, students play an active role rather than passive when learning new information.
  • Students are actively making choices on how to generate, obtain, manipulate, and display information.
  • Technology allows more students to be active participants in gathering and considering information, making choices, and executing skills.
  • Technology supports authentic tasks.
  • Technology stimulates active mental work.
  • Technology increases the motivation of students.
  • Students like that they can see immediate results when using technology.
  • Technology can enhance student self esteem because they feel like they can accomplish technology-based tasks.
  • Technology is used by professionals so students will use it in their futures.
  • Because of its supports and capabilities, technology allows students to handle more complex assignments and do more with higher-order skills.
  • Technology allows more collaboration with peers.
  • Technology supports more awareness of audience needs and perspectives because there are so many ways to present an idea in a professional way.

Effects of Technology on Classrooms and Students. (n.d.). Retrieved October 27, 2014.

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Rigorous Curriculum For All

  • Rigor is defined as a set of ideas, principles, and strategies that lead to ALL students being well prepared for post-secondary education, career and civic participation.
  • This means we have high expectations for ALL students. There may need to be supports for lower-performing students and extended learning opportunities for higher-performing students.
  • Schools need to look at course requirements, quality of content and instruction, and strategies to support student achievement.
  • The curriculum should also be relevant to students' lives, development of 21st century skills, and adequate preparation for postsecondary education and the world of work.
  • Allows for career and technical education.
  • It is important to have partnerships with higher education, interdisciplinary courses, an project- and community-based learning.
  • The curriculum should be able to be applied to the world outside of school.
  • Rigorous curriculum sets a foundation for success beyond school.

Rigorous and Relevant Curriculum Summary. (2014, September 23). Retrieved October 27, 2014.

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Data Driven

  • Making decisions based on data creates a system of teaching and management practices that gets better information about students to the teachers.
  • Data driven practices create substantial improvements in student learning and achievement.
  • Using data to make instructional decisions improves instructional interventions for students and makes teachers feel more enthusiastic about teaching because of professional fulfillment (seeing that they are making a difference).
  • There are five major elements of data driven instruction: good baseline data, measurable instructional goals, frequent formative assessments, professional learning communities, and focused instructional interventions.
  • For this to happen, information from assessments, measures of student engagement, previous intervention data, etc. are needed for teachers to design appropriate instructional interventions.
  • Multiple, different assessments are needed.
  • Access to raw data is crucial.
  • To set measurable goals mastery levels and learning needs of classes need to be decided along with the needs of demographic subgroups and individual students.
  • Measurable year-end instructional goals serve as meaningful targets to guide their pedagogical strategies.
  • Set SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-Oriented, and Time-Bound.
  • Data driven teachers identify and work toward only a few key instructional goal areas each year.
  • Teachers need frequent formative assessments in order to benchmark the progress of their students during the school year toward those year-end goals.
  • Educators need the opportunity to meet regularly and frequently to have collaborative, data-based discussions about student progress.
  • Teachers need to remember that data analysis is meaningless if it does not result in meaningful instructional change.
  • Data needs to be valued and visible in the school.
  • Teachers and administrators will need to confront the truths, which could be brutal, about their performance, and the reasons there is a lack of progress. They need to be willing to discuss their instructional strengths and weaknesses with each other to focus on learning of students and even themselves.
  • Data gives feedback.
  • The bottom line is that if educators are constantly analyzing what they do and adjust to get better, student learning will improve.

McLeod, S. (n.d.). Data-driven teachers. Retrieved October 26, 2014.

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Community Involvement

  • The role of family engagement in schools not only improves academic success, but life success.
  • "It takes a village to raise a child"- The whole community plays an essential role in the growth and development of its youth.
  • Community involvement is linked to student achievement and school success.
  • When schools, parents, families, and communities work together to support learning, students tend to earn higher grades, attend school, and enroll in higher level programs.
  • Students become more motivated with these involvements too.

O'Brien, A. (2012, March 21). The Importance of Community Involvement in Schools. Retrieved October 27, 2014, from essential-anne-obrien

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Professional Learning Communities

  • A combination of individuals with a common interest take the focus from teaching to learning
  • Staff addresses the discrepancy by designing strategies to ensure that struggling students receive additional support and time
  • Teachers work together in a systematic process to analyze and improve classroom practice
  • Teachers develop common formative assessment as they study state and national standards
  • School administration gives teachers time to learn, analyze, and discuss state and district curriculum

DeFour, R. (2004). Schools as Learning Communities. Educational Leadership, 61(8), 6-11. Retrieved October 27, 2014, from leadership/may04/vol61/num08/What-is-a-Professional-Learning-Community¢.aspx

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Problem Solving/Critical Thinking

  • Teachers will make reasoned judgments while teaching students to do the same
  • Teachers and students will use rational, higher order thinking skills (analysis, synthesis, problem solving, inference, and evaluation)
  • Teachers need to teach these skills so that students have a guide to weed through information and not only passively accept it

Walker Center for Teaching and Learning. (2014). Critical Thinking and Problem-solving. Retrieved October 27, 2014, from

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Least Restrictive Environment For All

  • Children are placed in classrooms that best fit his or her needs
  • Children with disabilities are integrated into the general education classroom including peer tutoring, cooperative group learning, and differentiated instruction
  • Students in inclusive classrooms show an academic growth in many areas
  • Students form accepting relationships with others who are seen as different
  • Teachers need to be given the time to carefully plan and prepare for inclusive classrooms
  • Principals, special education teachers, general education teachers, superintendents, parents, and community members need to be involved in a collaborative process

Whitbread, K. (n.d.). News - What Does the Research Say About Inclusive Education? (Kathleen Whitbread, Ph.D.) - Wrightslaw. Retrieved October 27, 2014, from

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Wellness Driven

  • Wellness works is incorporated in the school to motivate, educate, and support students, teachers, and families in developing the mental, emotional, physical, and social competencies to handle challenges
  • The whole child is embraced
  • Once a week in a 50 minute time period, lessons will be taught in the areas of mental, emotional, physical, and social development
  • Students with academic and behavior issues are targeted
  • Teachers are given time to be trained in the program to extend learning
  • Families are invited to join a program that is designed to share health and wellness information and practices

Kinder Associates LLC. (2014). Wellness Works in Schools. Retrieved October 27, 2014, from

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Quality Teachers

  • Teachers are able to adapt the curriculum and its requirements to teach using digital tools
  • Teachers will be able to understand and apply different learning styles
  • Teachers can look at other people's ideas and approaches and see how they would use these in their own classrooms
  • Imagination, collaboration, and adaptability are key when hiring teachers
  • Teachers will be involved in online communities
  • Teachers will expect their students to be life long learners so they will too share their experience as they absorb knowledge and stay current
  • Teachers will know how to facilitate communication, stimulate and control it, moderate and manage it
  • Teachers lead by example
  • Teachers must have a vision, skills, incentives, the resources and an action plan to educate successfully
  • Every classroom is equipped with the tools and materials needed to succeed
  • Teachers and students will have access to high-speed internet access
  • The curriculum will reflect the world that our students will inhabit

educational-origami - 21st Century Teacher. (n.d.). Retrieved October 27, 2014, from

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