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For Educators

This section of our website includes guides and tools developed at Harlem Academy that we hope will help other educators advance their work. This is a living section of our website that will evolve as we continue to learn and build new resources.

Academic Excellence

Integrating Science Skills Into the Curriculum

The resources below support the integration of skills critical to scientific inquiry within any science curriculum. 

Scientific Reading, Writing, and Reporting

The resources below guide students in reading challenging scientific texts, with rubrics to evaluate paragraph responses as well as lab reports. 

  • Tool: Scientists as Readers. This one-page resource was developed for middle school students, including practical strategies for reading scientific articles and a practice exercise.
  • Tool: Scientists as Writers. Developed for middle school students, this document emphasizes the importance of scientific writing, provides a middle school science paragraph response rubric, and includes a sample writing exercise for students to complete.
  • Tool: Middle School Lab Report Rubric. This rubric provides students and teachers with clear guidelines for developing a lab report that demonstrates a student’s understanding of the scientific method as well as their ability to communicate as a scientist. It also provides a strong sample of student work (grade 7) as a model.
  • Tool: Middle School Science Paragraph Response Rubric. This middle school paragraph-response rubric emphasizes use of evidence in crafting a response, and can be used to evaluate non-fiction writing in any subject.
History Through Primary Source Analysis

Using primary documents, students learn to think like historians – they learn the importance of questioning sources, reconciling different perspectives, contextualizing information, and identifying the author’s purpose and bias. These resources provide rationale for this approach as well as practical tools for implementation.

  • Guide: U.S. History Case Study. This case study explains the rationale and research supporting primary source analysis. It includes practical teaching strategies, assessment design, example student responses, and challenges to consider when implementing this approach.
  • Tool: 9/11 Lesson Plan. This two-session lesson explores primary sources, including artifacts, to educate students on the process of memorializing those lost in the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Vocabulary Development through Critical Thinking and Ample Practice

The resources below focus on developing vocabulary through daily practice, focus on fewer high-leverage words, and substantive engagement with the words.

  • Tool: Middle School Vocabulary Textbooks (Grades 5, Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8). These student workbooks focus on 150 high-frequency words each year. The program focuses on five words per week, which are clustered by theme.

Character

Cultivating Habits to Maximize Potential

The guides and tools below are designed to help students to develop habits of thought and action needed for success in top secondary schools, and to establish values that will allow them to contribute to and beyond the school community.

  • Guide: Cultivating Habits to Maximize Student Potential. This guide shares the key components for developing a strong program for helping students to build strong character habits.  Tools are provided in the appendix to support implementation.
  • Tool: School Pillars and Creed. Beginning with, “I am bold and creative,” and ending with, “I don’t give up,” our school creed defines a standard of character to which every member of the school community can aspire. Our pillars and creed provide shared language for students, parents and teachers, offering consistency for students as they interact with different team members and progress over time.
  • Guide: Engaging with the Creed at School. This teachers’ guide unpacks the meaning of the language in our school pillars and creed, including discussion of what to look for when commending students and how a student’s engagement with these concepts should evolve as they mature.
  • Guide: Engaging with the Creed at Home. This guide, developed to share with parents, provides brief explanations of the language in the pillars and creed as well as suggestions for how to support character growth at home.
  • Guide: Leading a Class Meeting. Class meetings provide students a chance to discuss concerns from their class, school, community, or world. This guide provides a detailed description of the structure for a class meeting, which incorporates responding to anonymous questions and comments from students, time for written and spoken reflection, and a short lesson and discussion that is often student-led.
  • Guide: Guide to Leading a Community Meeting and Giving Commendations. A community meeting creates space for the school community to connect around shared values. This guide provides a detailed description of the components of a class meeting, tips for providing commendations that maximize student growth, and suggestions for planning an effective community meeting message. 
Mitigating Stereotype Threat

When confronted with a situation that could confirm a stereotype, students can experience a stress response that hinders their performance – a phenomenon known as “stereotype threat.” The resources below focus on ways to mitigate this obstacle for students.

Parent Partnership

Learning From Families

The resources in this section focus on tapping the unique perspective of families, with the goal of sparking innovation and strengthening the program.

  • Tool: Family Survey. This survey seeks parent feedback regarding the school’s program; family partnership; and communications around clarifying the school’s mission and program, learning about school events, and their child’s performance. The survey leaves many opportunities for open-ended responses to ensure parents have flexibility to share their ideas and concerns.
  • Guide: Morning Coffee as an Avenue for Collaboration with Families. This guide outlines practical steps for planning and implementing a meeting to spark collaboration and sharing between families and school leaders.
Developing Shared Expectations

The resources in this section help establish common language and expectations, helping to unite students, families, and team members around a common purpose.   

  • Tool: Family Handbook. The family handbook was designed to serve as a tool to encourage partnership by setting a warm tone, establishing shared expectations, and explicitly highlighting opportunities for partnership.
  • Tool: Harlem Academy Commitment. This document is signed by students, parents, and teachers, affirming their commitment to upholding actions that will maximize each student’s potential. 
Leveraging Communications to Drive Family Partnership

The resources below focus on maximizing the impact of communications in advancing family partnership and involvement in the school.  

  • Tool: “The Weeks Ahead” Newsletter. This biweekly newsletter called “The Weeks Ahead” provides a visually engaging template for schools seeking to encourage family partnership, keep families abreast of events taking place at the school, and share tips from the counselor or other specialists.  

Leadership

Empowering the Team

An organization is only as good as its team – and smart, passionate individuals are drawn to organizations where they can take ownership of their work and make decisions to move the mission forward. The resources below highlight practical ways to put this idea into action.

  • Guide: Teacher-Driven Curriculum Development. Curriculum development is a significant undertaking, but it also presents an exciting opportunity to tailor a program to meet your student’s specific needs. This presentation for school leaders offers guidelines for whether to develop curricula and criteria for evaluating teacher readiness. It then outlines a program development cycle that includes planning, a pilot phase, and data-driven revision.
  • Tool: Team Culture. This one-page document provides a set of principles that underlie a strong team culture.
Tapping Stakeholder Wisdom

This section highlights practical tools and ideas for gathering feedback from key constituents, helping a school remain responsive to its community’s needs each year.

  • Guide: Morning Coffee as an Avenue for Collaboration with Families. This guide outlines practical steps for planning and implementing a meeting to spark collaboration and sharing between families and school leaders.
  • Tool: Family Survey. This survey seeks parent feedback regarding the school’s program; family partnership; and communications around clarifying the school’s mission and program, learning about school events, and their child’s performance. The survey leaves many opportunities for open-ended responses to ensure parents have flexibility to share their ideas and concerns.
  • Tool: Graduate Survey. This survey is a tool for tracking graduate progress, focusing on the academic transition for high school freshmen and a personal reflection from all students. There is ample opportunity for open-ended responses to ensure clear articulation of both concerns and successes.
  • Tool: Graduate Interview Questions. Intended to serve as a guide for in-person interviews halfway through freshman year, this interview explores their transition to high school. A key focus is on what graduates were most and least prepared for academically and as members of their school communities. 
  • Tool: Trustee Survey. This comprehensive trustee survey includes sections focused on the school’s performance in realizing its mission, financial support and management, strategic planning, board-head relations, board membership and cultivation, board development, board operations, constituent and community relations, and legal compliance.
  • Tool: Trustee Self-Evaluation. This open-ended survey provides space for trustees to identify which areas of their work for the school is satisfying and effective, and which are not. It also explores strengths and weaknesses of the school and how the board should focus its attention in the coming years.