Toolkit is a digital home for grab-and-go resources that are working to get every student to success. It includes activities, implementation plans, and other tools that are working best, so all teachers and students can benefit.

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Use These Tools for Peer Reviews in Teaching

This peer review activity focuses on specific elements of a classroom (outlined below) and fosters encouragement and strategies for teachers given by teachers. This is a means to improve, as well as be accountable for goals. Identifying what strategies should be implemented provides a focus for teacher’s and a starting block to navigate from.

Add Learning Walks to Your School’s Evaluation Toolkit

The Learning Walk routine is a proven and powerful tool for getting smarter about teaching and learning. For almost 25 years this research-backed practice has been used to understand core instructional work across classrooms in schools and districts.

Engage Staff in Continuous Improvement Processes

“We must invest and develop institutions that act as “learning systems,” that is to say, systems capable of bringing about their own continuing transformation. ” – Schon, 1973 INTRODUCTION Continuous improvement is an applied science that emphasizes innovation, rapid and iterative cycle testing in the field, and scaling in order to generate learning about what…

Establish a District Family Engagement Team

“Effective family engagement is an intentional and systemic partnership of educators, families, and community members …[who] share responsibility for a student’s preparation for school, work and life, from the time the child is born to young adulthood”– Lopez & Rosenberg INTRODUCTION There is growing recognition, grounded in research, that effective family engagement can contribute to…

Implement The Plan, Do, Study, Act Template for School Improvement Initiatives

This Plan, Do, Study, Act/Adjust (PDSA) template is designed to help district, building, and teacher leaders connect actions taken to the direct results impacted by the actions.

Implement 9th Grade Success Teams

Serving all kids well requires quality relationships. This is an inherent value found in the identity of schools that are getting it done for each and every student. Implementing a 9th grade transition team is one step to ensure student long-term success.

Implement Advisory Models Into Your School

The most effective advisory models provide direct support for specific skills such as social emotional learning and student well-being that are reinforced explicitly every period, every day through the students natural coursework.

Create Small Schools Within the Larger School Framework

Making high schools more personalized has been a focus for many years. Efforts such as the small school movement, involved a number of structural approaches to making large schools feel smaller and in essence, to support relationships where students are known by more than their name and face.  

Adopt Block Scheduling At Your School

Block scheduling is better for fostering and nurturing relationships for both teacher to student, as well as student to student relationships. 

Practice Positive Modeling at Your School

In schools where relationships are strong and positive, modeling is evident. It is a very Little Thing that could have been done yesterday, and you can do tomorrow.  

Survey the Little Things Already Incorporated at Your School

Arguably, the most important structures supporting learning are those that support healthy relationships between adults and kids. In your school, right now, there are little things teachers already do intentionally to support quality relationships. Take a day to discover the Little Things already happening at your school.

Establish Equitable Grading Practices Throughout Your School

Equitable grading is one of the most inclusive practices a school can have in place. This Big Play requires time and intentional planning in order to ensure that it is tied to your shared student outcomes. However, once equitable grading practices are part of every classroom, it makes space for incorporating student ownership of learning and reflection.

Leverage a Small Group of Staff to Present at Professional Development Sessions

Leverage a Small Group of Staff to Present at Professional Development Sessions after they become proficient in areas like culturally responsive practices or equitable grading. This is another way to embed the school’s holistic vision for readiness and establish shared language.

Establish a Book Club at Your School

Establish a book club at your school with students, staff or both. This Key Move could be foundational to setting up a Big Play to ensure all stakeholders are using shared language around inclusive practices, and your vision for student readiness. 

Provide Teachers a List of Activities Allowing Students to Share Interests and Aspirations

Giving students the space to talk about what they love to do provides opportunities for students to build better relationships with each other, as well as for both students and the teacher to make connections between their interests and the school’s shared vision for how students should be prepared for their futures. 

Use the “Fist to Five” Method to See How Your Students are Feeling

Introduce the Fist to Five Method into classrooms to make school feel more inclusive for students. This activity allows students to express themselves, and share how they are entering the learning environment on a particular day. 

Utilize Exit Tickets to Allow Students a Space to Evaluate

Exit tickets are in line with the concept of universal design for learning (UDL), as they provide another means of engagement by students, and are a quick easy way for teachers to gather feedback about the student experience as well as gather data to help reflect on their own instructional practices and curricula choices. 

Conduct a Student Experience Story Guide With Your Students

“My favorite day of school was when it was my birthday because everybody said hello to me, and I wish that happened every day.” – Seattle area student INTRODUCTION The below activity provides a space for students to share their stories without interruption and preconceived notions of what teachers are “looking for.” There are no right…

Practice Anti-Bias Education Through Family & Community Engagement

Strong communication between school staff and families is important in any school, and has special relevance for schools committed to anti-bias education. These suggestions complement a school’s anti-bias education program, and are great ideas for fostering a healthy community between all stakeholders, (staff, students, teachers, community, and families).

Conduct Design Camp

The Design Camp project is an effort to look more deeply at the day-to-day experiences of students.

Personalize Postsecondary Advising Amid Covid

For some students, the unprecedented global pandemic has either changed their college-going plans or put them on hold. Other graduates still plan to go to college, although they worry about attending college in a new context of online or hybrid learning. Schools, teachers, staff, and students had to rapidly shift gears at the onset of the pandemic, and providing resources in light of our new reality to ensure student success became pivotal.

Create a Learning Progression for Measuring Student Outcomes

The Novice–Expert Continuum is a unique framework that captures the evolution of students’ learning processes as they progress from following procedural rules to generating novel and creative products and responses to problems.

Conduct Empathy Interviews

Empathy interviews inform intentional classroom and school level action by elevating student voices and garnering a better understanding of student needs (SEL and Well-being), and experiences (Engagement). This resource provides step-by-step instruction on how to conduct an empathy interview.

Implement PBIS Via Schoolwide Values

Some schools are embracing a comprehensive system based on Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). This resource walks you through steps to achieve this.

Integrate Literacy Into Every Period, Every Day

When students are struggling with literacy, consider teaching it schoolwide during every period of every day. This is what Valley High School implemented with outstanding results. This resource goes over the literacy playbook.

Select an Evidence-Based SEL Program

Your SEL team will need to consider several factors prior to the adoption of an evidence-based program for SEL. This activity will assist your team to clarify the needs and priorities and chose a program best suited for your school.

Develop Schoolwide Norms Via SEL Implementation

Schoolwide norms are a set of agreed-upon expectations of how all students and staff will behave and interact to contribute to a positive school climate. This activity helps define what your schoolwide norms will be.

Model SEL for Students

Modeling SEL offers students positive examples of how to navigate stress and frustration and maintain healthy relationships while simultaneously influencing the learning climate. You can engage staff in this activity to reflect on how you will intentionally model SEL as part of schoolwide implementation.

Reflect on SEL Competencies for School Leaders and Staff

Reflect on SEL Competencies for School Leaders and Staff – an activity of self-awareness.

Develop Goals for Schoolwide SEL

This tool will help the SEL team develop and document goals for schoolwide SEL implementation and outcomes using the SMARTIE goal-setting process.

Develop a Shared Vision for Schoolwide SEL With These Steps

Develop a shared vision for schoolwide SEL with the steps outlined. Gather stakeholder thoughts on their shared why and incorporate group feedback into a single shared vision.

Assemble an SEL Team Checklist

Assembling the right team to lead a school-wide effort is key to success. This checklist will provide insight into the many stakeholders you should be keeping in mind.

Incorporate Optimistic Closures to Class and Meetings

Educators and OST providers understand and believe in the power of SEL, but often seek clarity about how to demonstrate and observe SEL in action.
The Optimistic Closure Activities are practical ways to introduce and broaden the use of SEL practices in classrooms, schools, and even workplaces.

Incorporate Engaging Strategies for Brain Breaks and Transitions

Educators and OST providers understand and believe in the power of SEL, but often seek clarity about how to demonstrate and observe SEL in action.
The Engaging Strategies and Brain Breaks are practical ways to introduce and broaden the use of SEL practices in classrooms, schools, and even workplaces.

Open Class and Meetings With a Welcoming Inclusion Activity

Educators and OST providers understand and believe in the power of SEL, but often seek clarity about how to demonstrate and observe SEL in action.
The Welcoming Inclusion Activities are practical ways to introduce and broaden the use of SEL practices in classrooms, schools, and even workplaces.

Engage Your Students in Equity Center Design

Create opportunities for the human-centered designer to notice and reflect on the identities, experiences and biases they bring to a design opportunity by using a card deck created by Standford’s K12 Lab Network and The National Equity Project.

Promote Caring With Getting to Know You Activities

Promote caring with getting to know you activities. Use the first three days of the school year to get to know the names, faces, and stories of your students. These activities build strong relationships between students and teachers, and among the students.

Deliver Effective Anti-Bias Training

Research suggests stand-alone anti-bias training may not change long-term behavior. For leaders working to make their schools more equitable, studies suggest some alternatives to common pitfalls.

Executive Briefing Protocol – The 4 Thinking Styles You Must Consider

Learn the four thinking styles that you commonly encounter in any work environment. When you are presenting information, each type of thinker tends to be listening for the information that answers the questions they focus on most. You can achieve this with the 7 questions template.

Discover the Root of a Problem Using the 5 Whys Technique

Recurrent problems are often symptoms of deeper issues. Learn the 5 Whys technique to get to the root cause of a problem.

Create Effective Leadership Practices – Leadership Team Activity

An activity for your leadership team to reflect on your most effective leadership practices.

Nurture a Positive Staff Community

This activity will help you analyze you current recruitment and retention efforts. Developing and Nurturing a Staff Community Aligned to Your School’s Identity and Vision is key.

Create a Culture of Partnership With Your Leaders

This activity will help you examine the effectiveness of your teams. Take action to work toward ensuring that you have a culture of partnership with your leaders.

Build Structures For Healthy Relationships – Leadership Team Activity

An activity for your leadership team to reflect on key structures that have been used to build opportunities for students to be known in your school.

Implement Little Things, Key Moves, and Big Plays to Change Structures

It’s important for leaders to develop an understanding of the types of structures, processes, and practices needed to support healthy relationships. What is your school doing to create an environment where relationships flourish?

Learn how to be connected to transform the culture and climate of your school. Discover examples of little things, key moves, and big plays your school can do to change your structures to support healthy relationships.

Build Structures to Foster Healthy Relationships

Examine what your school does to build opportunities for students to be known. Learn how your school can employ Structures that Build Healthy Relationships schoolwide.

Support Every Student to Find Their Purpose

This activity will help you ensure you have support for every student to find their purpose. Identify the three interrelated factors essential to fostering purpose, and examine if the supports and opportunities each student is receiving align to their skills and strengths.

Ensure Opportunities are Supporting Your Underserved Students

This activity will help your team examine what additional supports and opportunities are at your school and if they are meeting the needs of your students.

Bring Culturally Responsive Practices Into The Daily Routine

This activity will help your leadership team assess and identify how inclusive practices, supports, and structures, such as co-teaching and teaming, are at your campus.

Are the environments on your campus (classrooms, extracurricular and common areas, virtual spaces) set up to be most welcoming and accommodating for your students, or for the adults?

Foster Learners With Autonomy and Drive

This activity will assist your team in learning how to foster students with autonomy, drive, and endurance through instructional routines and school rituals.

Implement Student-Centered Learning

This activity will assist your team in developing a shared understanding of what it means to transform the student experience (at the instructional level) that includes aligning efforts to a shared vision for readiness that supports student empowerment.

How do you create an environment where students enjoy learning because it feels purposeful and valuable to them?

Reflect on How Your Students are Being Heard

This activity is designed to reflect on how you are engaging students to share their experiences, and to garner what they need from school. This is an opportunity to identify groups of students who need increased opportunity to share their thoughts and dreams.

Reflect on Purposeful Learning in Your School

In this activity your team will discuss what purposeful learning means to you (teachers, staff and leaders) in your school, and begin to develop a set of tools to support purposeful learning every period of every day at your site.

Align Instruction to Purposeful Learning

This activity will help you assess how much purposeful learning is happening in your school. By providing an opportunity to reflect on the bright spots in your school for aligning instruction and learning, you may discover ways to move away from simply grading and assessments.

Envision the Future of Your School’s Identity

This activity is designed for the entire school community and will be conducted with staff, leadership teams, families, and students. This is an opportunity to look into the future, and envision your school identity and culture with all your stakeholder groups.

Discover Your School’s Identity

An activity designed to develop a shared understanding of a school’s identity and explore specific values and beliefs that are necessary to implement a (MTSS) in secondary schools.

Develop Life Readiness Pathways

Develop schoolwide Life Readiness pathways so students feel prepared and empowered for their next steps. Reflections and activities from all of these experiences should be aligned with the school’s shared vision for readiness and collected in portfolios that each student adds to throughout their school journey and are used in Senior Exit Interviews.

Empower Student Leaders – A Student Activity

This activity will be conducted with your students to allow them an opportunity to think about how they feel empowered at school, and what things (if any), prevent them from becoming leaders.

Empower Your Students – A Leadership Team Activity

This activity will guide your team to examine how student empowerment can be incorporated into students’ daily lives. Are your students empowered to change your school for the better? Are they encouraged to advocate for what they need when they need it?

Support Student-Led Social Change

This activity is designed to make you think about what matters to your students when it comes to leading for change. What do they feel empowered to do as leaders? Consider what schoolwide initiatives you would like to see your students leading.

Provide College Application Day

Commit time in your yearly calendar to schoolwide activities that remove barriers to postsecondary education such as College Application Day for all seniors.

Develop a Course for Students to Explore Their Purpose

Develop a course for students to explore their purpose and gain a better understanding of who they are, and what they value.

Create Student Leadership Opportunities

Create leadership courses and set up structures for students to take on meaningful leadership roles, empower their voices, and engage them in decision-making processes that impact the students, families, and staff.

Develop a Community Service Based Project Course

Develop a course where students do a community service based project.

Teach and Model Self-Care

Teach and model self-care to students to include: time, meditation, yoga, exercise, sleep, creative expression and more.

Empower Students to Positively Impact Their Communities

Empower students to positively impact their communities, country, and the world. Consider projects from Design for Change.

Allow Students Space for Major Life Transitions

Provide students time and space for processing major life transitions including the change from middle school to high school and the change from high school to postsecondary education.

Teach Empathy Via Teaching Tolerance

Give students the opportunity to think about and practice empathy. Use lesson plans from Teaching Tolerance.

Allow Students to Manage Their Daily Learning

Use design thinking, or a hackathon approach, to give students the opportunity to envision how their daily school experience should change to allow students to better manage their own learning.

Facilitate Learning that Motivates Students

Train teachers to better understand and facilitate learning that motivates students. This teaching guide provides some strategies and key concepts connected to student motivation.

Implement Programs to Explore Interests and Aspirations

Implement programs like Roadtrip Nation to give students the opportunity to explore their interests and aspirations while also building ownership of learning skills.

Adopt or Start a School Garden

Adopt or start a community garden as a school. Provide different tasks and responsibilities for each grade level. Ensure the garden benefits the community.

Encourage Resiliency and Embrace Mistakes

Knowing how to learn from failure can be a key to success. Model and reinforce the benefits of failure with your students. Encourage students to be resilient and embrace mistakes.

Teach Time Management

Teach time management: Challenge students to use their time to do what matters most to them by using lesson plans like
this one from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Discover Your Students Passions by Asking What Motivates Them

Teachers, ask your students what motivates them by asking them to identify their passions and interests.

Teach Collaboration and Teamwork

Provide opportunities for students to work on skills that teach collaboration and teamwork.

Create Internship Programs With Local Businesses

Create internship programs with local businesses or organizations, such as Chamber of Commerce. Work with business partners to embed on-the-job projects and scenarios into curricular pathways.

Engage in Capstone Projects Focused on Real-World Issues

Set up a process for students to annually engage in capstone projects focused on real-world issues. Have each student reflect and apply several key ideas they have learned in the classroom throughout the year to their projects.

Host Career Fairs or Events that Focus on Specific Subjects

Host career fairs or events that focus on specific subjects so students can see and understand the relevance of what they are learning, and how it connects to future careers.

Collaborate Across Subject Areas to Develop Multidisciplinary Projects

Create prep time for teachers to collaborate across subject areas to develop key multidisciplinary projects and assignments that show how subjects are connected to each other, and to real life.

Provide Students Opportunities to Be Comfortable with Discomfort

Provide students with opportunities to become more comfortable with discomfort.

Connect Career Interest with School Curriculum

Using, have students explore career options. Have the students make connections between what they learned, and the careers they are most interested in.

Reflect on the Failures and Successes of Learning Something New

Challenge students to learn something new. Develop a space within classrooms to celebrate and reflect on the failures and successes in learning something new.
This is a great opportunity to focus on and practice effort-based learning and disrupt fixed mindset habits.

Redesign Your School to Incorporate Project-Based Learning

Redesign and commit to a schoolwide framework and curriculum that uses Project Based Learning and/or cross-curricular experiences for all students.

Teach Neuroplasticity

How does the brain change as we learn and experience new things? Teach students about Neuroplasticity to help them understand this concept.

Adopt an Arts Integration Curriculum

Artful Learning is a transformational learning model that empowers educators to use the arts and the artistic process to awaken and sustain the love of learning for all students. Adopt an arts integration curriculum schoolwide. Look at the Roosevelt Middle school, in Oceanside California, as an example.

Hold a Film or Art Festival

Plan a film or arts festival to showcase students’ creativity and original work. Consider developing the projects in a core class that most students participate in.

Ask the Right Questions to Understand Your Students

Ask students essential questions. This activity is a great way to learn more about your students, while fostering a sense of self-reflection. These questions revolve around the learner’s identity, and can set a tone in your classroom emphasizing self-knowledge as the ultimate goal of learning.

Link Real-World Current Challenges to the Classroom

Give students the opportunity in classrooms, or a common area, to identify a current challenge (either in or out of school), and have them connect two things they have learned in the last week in their classes to the challenge.

Use Design Thinking as Your Schools Foundational Backbone

Identify a THINK framework, such as design thinking, to set up as a foundational backbone that can be embedded every period, every day throughout your school. Check out Waipahu High School in Hawaii for examples.

Create Career Pathways (CTE) and Project-Based Learning

Create CTE or career pathways schoolwide so that every student experiences project-based learning throughout their school experience. Check out Valley High School in Santa Anna California for a success story.

Embed THINK skills into Lesson Plans

Have teachers in a specific grade, subject, or PLC focus on embedding THINK skills or behaviors in their lesson planning for the next 6 months to a year. Have them share what changed with the community.

Create Grade-Level Projects and Capstones

Create grade-level projects or capstones that give students the opportunity to do hands-on work in the community. These can be set up as projects students choose on their own, or opportunities set up through community partnerships with organizations like Habitat for Humanity or a local community center.

Plan a Science Fair or Entrepreneur Day

Plan and implement a school-wide or whole grade maker event, science fair, or entrepreneur day and have students develop projects for the event in a specific course. Shark Tank Events is one example and Scholastic has free lesson plans to support teachers.

Utilize Critical Thinking When Teaching History

Have students engage in critical thinking activities about specific historical events or people. Character maps are graphic organizers that use a simple drawing of a person, with questions connected to the person’s symbolic features.

Apply Divergent Thinking Strategies in Lesson Plans

Include divergent thinking strategies in your lesson plans using instructional strategies. Divergent thinking is the process of generating multiple ideas to maximize the range of possible solutions, applications and examples.

Utilize Your Team Member’s Strengths – Growing Strong Leaders

Discuss with your leaders about how better understanding each person’s strengths can create more distributed and inclusive leadership practices. Identify three behaviors or habits you can do as a team to make sure you lead in ways that use everyone’s strengths and distributes leadership to every member on the team.

Mobilize Your A-Team

This activity will help you examine your leadership team makeup, decision-making practices and protocols, as well as communication strategies.

Instill Empathy and Creativity – Teacher Activity

An activity designed for staff. Discuss why creativity and empathy are needed, even as technology is integrated into the jobs of the future. Identify strategies and opportunities for students to build these skills.

Instill Empathy and Creativity – Leadership Team Activity

This activity, designed for the leadership team, will help you learn strategies using the Four Keys framework .– THINK, KNOW, ACT, GO – to align instructional programs with the 21st Century skills students need to be prepared for their futures.

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