Critical Skills Institutes

Institute participants exploring strategies to help develop a collaborative classroom environment.Click here to find an Institute and register!

Critical Skills Institute is truly an immersion into a Critical Skills Classroom. Under the guidance and leadership of Master Teachers, participating educators experience all dimensions of the model firsthand.

In the Institutes, educators explore problem-based, experiential, collaborative, and standards-driven learning. Over five days, they examine how these methodologies can be successfully integrated, focusing on the role of the teacher in designing curriculum, guiding students, and assessing performance. Participants develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to build and maintain a dynamic and responsive classroom.

Critical Skills Institutes are offered in three ways: on-site during the summer, on-site during the school year, and on an individual basis during open enrollment workshops held in July at our Keene, New Hampshire Campus. On-site Level I and 2 Institutes are typically arranged by a single school or district and are supported through the year through external coaching by our master teachers and the internal support of professional learning communities, Critical Friends Groups, or on-site study groups. We also offer Level I and 2 Institutes during the school year, utilizing the existing in-service days scheduled by the district or school and supported by additional coaching between sessions. Finally, individual educators are welcome to enroll in our Keene Level I and 2 Institutes as either a first foray into the model or as a way of “catching up” with colleagues in already implementing schools. Visit our events page for more information or to register.

Read about one participant’s experience: The Breakdown: Critical Skills Institute by @DanCallahan


What Past Participants Had to Say:

  • Overall, this was fantastic! I learned so much.
  • Wonderful, enthusiastic engaging instructors.
  • This institute taught me how to incorporate the skills of the Critical Skills classroom into my own classroom.
  • I appreciated the way you were able to build community immediately- first day- was astounding and inspirational. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about how to use this model in my classroom. I’m forever indebted to you.
  • A terrific marriage of content and experience!
  • Loved it! I feel as though my kids will love it and really bring out the mystery wonder and discovery in science!
  • I liked how they modeled the model through our activities. I learned so much in such a short time!
  • I feel ready to do this.

See our event schedule to register or learn more about locations, dates, and costs.

The Level I Institute

Click here to find an Institute and register!

A Critical Skills Institute is truly an immersion into a Critical Skills Classroom. Under the guidance and leadership of master teachers, participating educators experience all dimensions of the model firsthand.

In the Institutes, educators explore problem-based, experiential, collaborative, and standards-driven learning. Over five days, they examine how these methodologies can be successfully integrated, focusing on the role of the teacher in designing curriculum, guiding students, and assessing performance. Participants develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to build and maintain dynamic and responsive classroom exhibitions of learning.

Level I Institutes examine strategies for:

  • developing the classroom as a collaborative, problem-solving community
  • using the experiential learning cycle to support student learning
  • setting and maintaining criteria for quality work
  • targeting the Critical Skills alongside the curriculum
  • turning curriculum into different types of problems to solve that provide a meaningful context for learning
  • using simple performance-based assessment tools
  • planning and structuring student exhibitions of learning
  • guiding student reflection and debriefing processes

Click here to view the syllabus.

See our event schedule to register or learn more about locations, dates, and costs.

The Level II Institute

Click here to find an Institute and register!

In this three-day institute, participants will revisit the Critical Skills classroom model. This course in intended for educators who have been experimenting with the Education by Design/Critical Skills (EBD/CS) classroom model and who are ready for more advanced work. Participants will deepen their understanding of and practical experience with the design and assessment of problem-based challenges as structured by the Experiential Learning Cycle. These challenges will target and track student growth toward specified desired outcomes through at least two ‘linked” experiences.

Participants will expand their repertoire of the tools and techniques helpful in building and maintaining a classroom culture that encourages collaboration. Focus is on the planning and implementation of more academically rigorous challenges and on increasingly comprehensive tools for assessing student work. Participants are given time to further develop their coaching skills to prepare them to guide students through the Experiential Learning Cycle and through the reflection process.

The Level II is an opportunity for the participant to develop a deeper understanding of the EBD/CS classroom model and to guide students through a sequence of at least two linked challenges of the experiential learning cycle.

Level II Institute Participants Will:

  • design units of study through multi-tiered, sequential problem-based challenges and performance-based assessments
  • use more comprehensive strategies for assessing student competencies, skills, and curricular standards to monitor student growth along a developmental continuum
  • apply a more sophisticated understanding of the role and power of a classroom community
  • examine the role of the teacher as a facilitator, guiding students through experiential learning and the reflection process

See our event schedule to register or learn more about locations, dates, and costs.

Master Teacher Training

The title “Critical Skills Master Teacheris earned through a rigorous process of implementation, reflection, and observation. An individual who has gained this status is imbued with the authority to train others in the use of the Critical Skills Classroom and to participate in the leadership community continued development of the model. Master Teachers are typically selected from Institute participants based upon their enthusiasm and their work in implementing Critical Skills in their own classrooms.

Master Teachers:

  1. are active contributors to the Master Teacher community, participating in the ongoing evolution of the Critical Skills Classroom model and the Critical Skills Institute;
  2. develop an advanced understanding of the CSC model leading to advanced application in participant’s classrooms/ work;
  3. gain theoretical and practical knowledge and skills in working with adult learners; and
  4. appropriately utilize new technological tools in advancing the outcomes of Critical Skills Classrooms and Institutes/ Coaching.
  5. craft and publish interconnected, coherent units of study driven by essential questions, specific curricular frameworks, and broad interdisciplinary perspectives

Master Teacher Training is scheduled annually.  Contact us to learn how to apply

Information Sessions, Workshops, and Classroom Consultations

My participation in the many levels of the Critical Skills Program over these past years has been the most significant professional experience in my twenty-five years as a teacher. The impact on my teaching has been tremendous and the subsequent effect on my students profound.Bill Vinton, Chair, Arts Department, St. Johnsbury Academy

In addition to setting up a Critical Skills Institute, the Center can arrange information sessions, half-day or full-day workshops, and consultations for schools and districts on varying components of the Critical Skills Classroom model. Sample topics can include:

  • Competency-Based Assessment
  • Real-World Learning in the Classroom
  • Meeting Academic Standards through Critical Skills
  • Introduction to the Critical Skills Classroom
  • Creating Collaborative Classroom Communities
  • Introduction to Problem-Based Learning
  • Team-Building for Teachers and Students
  • Setting Quality Standards for Student Work
  • The Experiential Learning Cycle
  • Problem-Based Service Learning
  • Critical Skills and the Primary Classroom