Polaris Charter Academy

EL Education Design and Measurement

Learning Expeditions are designed and implemented by classroom teachers, with support and guidance from the Director of Academics, the Dean of Curriculum and consultants from EL Learning Schools (www.elschools.org). Working in grade level teams, teachers begin with the state standards for science and social studies. They identify overarching themes for these standards and develop guiding questions for their expeditions. These guiding questions tie the state standards to real-world topics that will engage students. Each team plans the final product of their expedition, which will set purpose for student learning. Grade level teams then use backward mapping to break down the expeditions into week-by-week plans, which include targeted state learning standards.

Teachers use both formative and evaluative assessments to measure the effectiveness of the expeditions. Formative assessments are given to small groups and individual students. They vary from informal observations during discussions to formal analyses of students’ understanding of content in a piece of writing. Teachers use these formative assessments as data to drive instruction and to monitor student progress toward mastering learning targets. They provide teachers with the necessary information to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of individual students. Evaluative assessments are given to determine students understanding of learning targets. They involve the use of student rubrics and are graded evaluations of learning. Evaluative assessments can range from oral presentations, to expository writing pieces, to formal tests and beyond.

At the end of each expedition, teachers complete a written reflection. Grade level teams meet to discuss the reflections to better prepare for their next expedition, while recording changes to the expedition plan for the next time it is taught.

Students at Polaris Charter Academy are expected to understand and evaluate their own learning through a strategic portfolio and student-led conferencing process. Student portfolios include academic and character goals set by students with guidance from their teachers. Portfolios include artifacts of student work that reflect and support growth in academic content areas. Students use their portfolios to lead student-parent-teacher conferences at the end of every trimester. Students learn to take ownership of their learning. They learn to speak articulately about their progress and their growth areas and to be reflective, active participants in their education.

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EL Education Design and Measurement