OUR APPROACH TO LEARNING
Explain the WHY behind the Learning
We believe that students learn best when they process knowledge and skills in such a way that makes sense to them in their immediate frame of reference, in their inner world of memory, experience, and response.
At HCSS every class begins with a conversation about why what the students will learn is important and how it will be vital outside the classroom, in their world, in real time.
Teachers build multi-modal bridges to connect new course learning and experiences to concepts and knowledge previously encountered, to move students to understand the big ideas of each unit. Teachers plan carefully to create opportunities for students to connect prior knowledge and experience to real-life situations.
Project Based Learning
Project Based Learning is a school-wide instructional strategy that incorporates 21st-century skills and key elements including teamwork, critical thinking, appropriate and efficient use of technology, and oral and written communication skills.
Each student at HCSS is required to participate in at least two PBL units per year.Project Based Learning provides clear benefits including increased critical thinking skills, greater problem-solving abilities, deeper understanding, better preparation for higher education and real work situations, more developed collaborative skills, and an enhanced desire to learn. Work on projects is initiated by asking “Driving Questions” that help frame the substance of the content and the direction of research and discovery. Learners are supported to produce high-quality work through established checkpoints that provide them with opportunity for feedback and revision throughout the process.
As the culmination of the PBL, student teams present their projects in a Webinar open to the public or to a group of faculty and students representative of the community their project was created for.
The release of responsibility to the students both allows and requires them to be accountable for and take ownership of, their work. Supporting students to think critically and engage proactively produces successful college and career ready students.
The Gradual Release of Responsibility model of instruction supports learning that happens through collaborative interactions with others. When these interactions are scaffolded, intentional, high levels of learning occur for all students. Students consider and consolidate thinking and understanding, they negotiate with peers as they share ideas, engaging in an inquiry to apply what they have learned.
Culture of Classroom Discourse
Academically productive talk is jointly constructed by teachers and students, working together to achieve rigorous academic purposes in a thinking curriculum.
Great discussions are one outcome of the HCSS classroom culture where students’ thoughts are welcome and where students are regularly expected to speak, listen, and respond to one another.
Technology is both catalyst of and tool for learning at HCSS. Effective technology infusion helps to bridge the gap between discreet content and skills and real-world tasks and interactions.
Students use technology to learn, to demonstrate their learning in new ways, and to communicate their learning effectively. At HCSS, every student is issued a Chromebook for his/her use for the year, both in and out of school. Teachers use technology for collaboration, instant classroom assessments, academic discussions, research projects, and video, annotated lectures, and presentations.
Students take course benchmark assessments during the quarter and final exams at the end of each quarter for math, ELA, and science.
Test results are carefully reviewed by faculty, and individual student action plans are developed. The skills and concepts needing more study are retaught with fresh strategies and learning activities, and personalized support plans are implemented in tutoring during study hall, after school, and in our voluntary Saturday School programs.