Instead of marching through the same traditional sequence of required classes as their peers, upperclassmen at Oyster River High School choose from electives like mythology, journalism, sociology, forensics, and other classes that best suit their interests. It’s a rich experience that keeps both students and teachers engaged and excited about learning, but as librarian Kathy Pearce quickly recognized, the seemingly endless paths that students took to graduation made it difficult to teach overarching skills in a cohesive and consistent way once students entered sophomore year. She wanted to find a better way to coordinate when skills will be introduced, reinforced and assessed in the various freshman classes to eliminate redundancy and identify gaps.
By forming the Freshman Skills Collaborative, Pearce and her colleagues were able to collaborate during summer professional development days and improve foundational skills instruction in the freshman year, creating teacher resources, rubrics and informational handouts. The group incorporated the school’s 21st century learning expectations and other key skills into the curriculum and aligned instruction of classes common to all freshmen, targeting areas such as study skills, information literacy, and digital citizenship.
Follow Kathy Pearce on Twitter @KathyPearceNH