Guiding Principles of Learning
Organizing for Effort
- A clear, high, minimum set of standards that every student is expected to meet is established in each subject.
- All students are taught a curriculum that prepares them to meet the standards.
- Additional instruction and learning time is provided for students who need it in order to meet the standards.
- When there are special learning opportunities, a willingness to do the work is the primary admission criterion.
- Students are responsible for completing academic work that has been specified and negotiated.
- There are specified bodies of work (e.g., reading a certain number of books, writing a research paper, performing school service) that students must accomplish by the end of key stages of schooling.
- Standards that include models of student work are available to and discussed with students.
- Students judge their work with respect to the standards.
- Intermediate expectations leading to the formally measured standards are specified.
- Families and community are informed about the accomplishment standards that children are expected to achieve.
Fair and Credible Evaluations
- Exams and tests are referenced to standards and designed to be studied for. The exams and tests are valid when students directly prepare to take them.
- Exams, tests and classwork are graded against absolute standards, not on a curve.
- A reporting system exists that makes it clear to students and their parents how they are progressing toward expected standards.
- Assessments validly test the full range of adopted standards.
- Curriculum and assessments are aligned.
- “Public accountability” assessment instruments and “instructional assessments” are aligned.
Recognition of Accomplishment
- Frequent and regular occasions for recognizing student accomplishment linked to standards are established.
- Recognitions mark real accomplishment, meeting a standard or intermediate expectations.
- Enough clearly demarcated progress points are set so that all students experience recognition and celebration of their accomplishments periodically.
- Families and other community members who matter to students participate in celebrations and recognition events.
- Employers and colleges recognize and ask for evidence of academic accomplishments for high school students.
Academic Rigor in a Thinking Curriculum
- Commitment to a Knowledge Core
- There is an articulated curriculum in each subject that avoids needless repetition and progressively deepens understanding of core concepts.
- The curriculum and instruction are clearly organized around major concepts specified in the standards.
- Teaching and assessment focus on students’ mastery of core concepts.
- High-Thinking Demand
- In every subject, students are regularly expected to raise questions, to solve problems, to think and to reason.
- Students are doing challenging. high-level assignments in every subject.
- Assignments in each subject include extended projects in which original work and revision to standards are expected.
- Students are challenged to construct explanations and to justify arguments in each subject.
- Instruction is organized to support reflection on learning processes and strategies.
- Active Use of Knowledge
- Each subject includes assignments that require students to synthesize several sources of information.
- Students in each subject are challenged to construct explanations and to test their understanding of concepts by applying and discussing them.
- Students’ prior and out-of-school knowledge is used regularly in the teaching and learning process.
- Instructional tasks and classroom discourse require students to interpret texts and construct solutions.
- Engagement with Learning Through Talk
- A substantial portion of instructional time involves students in talk related to the concepts delineated in the standards.
- Accountable Talk sharpens students’ thinking by reinforcing their ability to build and use knowledge. Teachers create the norms and skills of Accountable Talk in their classrooms by modeling appropriate forms of discussion and by questioning, probing and leading conversations.
- Accountability to the Learning Community
- Students actively participate in classroom talk.
- Students listen attentively to one another.
- Students elaborate and build upon ideas and each others’ contributions.
- Students work toward the goal of clarifying or expanding a proposition.
- Accountability to Knowledge
- Students make use of specific and accurate knowledge.
- Students provide evidence for claims and arguments.
- Students identify the knowledge that may not be available yet which is needed to address an issue.
- Accountability to Rigorous Thinking
- Students synthesize several sources of information.
- Students construct explanations.
- Students formulate conjectures and hypotheses.
- Students test their own understanding of concepts.
- Classroom talk is accountable to generally accepted standards of reasoning.
- Students challenge the quality of each other’s evidence and reasoning.
- Classroom talk is accountable to standards of evidence appropriate to the subject matter.
- I have the right and obligation to understand and make things work better.
- Problems yield to sustained effort.
- Habits of mind
- Tendency to try actively to analyze problems, ask questions, and get information
- Students acquire and use strategies for leaning and problem solving.
- Students acquire and use strategies for appropriately getting and giving help in learning.
- Staff communicate to all students that they are already competent learners and are able to become even better through their persistent use of strategies and by reflecting on their efforts
- Classroom practice holds students accountable for using learning, problem solving, and helping strategies. Students are persistent when working on challenging problems.
- Students regularly expect to do “better than before”.
Self-management of Learning
- Within the context of instruction and learning in the various subject areas, metacognittve strategies are explicitly modeled, identified,discussed, and practiced.
- Students are expected and taught to play an active role in monitoring and managing the quality of their learning.
- Teachers scaffold students’ performance during initial stages of learning, then gradually remove supports.
Learning as Apprenticeship
- A substantial portion of instruction and learning occurs in the context of extended, interdisciplinary protects culminating in presentations of finished work.
- Student products meet publicly agreed upon standards of quality.
- Experts from within the school or from the community critique and guide student work.
- Learning strategies and thinking are overtly modeled and discussed.