Look Who’s Talking!: Building a ‘Brave Space’ in Class

   “To teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students is essential if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin.” -bell hooks My teenage years included trips to the movie theater where I was mesmerized by 3D movies. I loved watching … Continued

Yes! You can teach sight words efficiently. Here’s how.

Cajsa is a 1st grader at Leadership Prep Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn. In September 2021, after a year and a half of remote learning over Zoom, she started the year as a STEP 1 (Fountas and Pinnell (F&P) Level A), with a reading accuracy of only 83% (90% is a passing score). In just 6 … Continued

One Year of Uncommon Sense

One year ago, we introduced Uncommon Sense, a blog whose intention is to introduce you to some of the incredible members of our Uncommon team along with ready-to-use resources and the cutting-edge research that we utilize to drive student engagement and achievement.  Our hope was and continues to be that when asked, “Are your students … Continued

Getting to Why: Developing Inspirational Leaders by Connecting to Purpose

“If you’re going to live, leave a legacy. Make a mark on the world that can’t be erased.” —Dr. Maya Angelou I began my career at Uncommon Schools as a teacher. As part of my hiring process, I guest-taught a lesson. It didn’t go well. I knew it, and the hiring principal Michael Mann knew … Continued

Using “Just in Time” Instruction to Address Learning Loss

In the June 30th Uncommon Sense post, Our Plans to Reverse COVID-related Learning Loss, we named small-group instruction focused on accelerating student learning as a key driver in our ability to close COVID-related learning loss by June 2022. In this post, we are going to look closely at the classroom of Equel Easterling to see … Continued

Revising Curriculum With the DEI Lens Tool – A Collectivist Approach

In Jerard Walker’s essay, Dragon Slayers (The Iowa Review, 2006), Walker reflects on his journey as a black professor who realizes that black literature is too often approached as a record of oppression. After deep introspection, he designed his classes to challenge that narrative with a focus on the flip side: black courage and heroism. … Continued

A Tool to Ensure Your Curriculum Includes All Voices

Four years ago, I received an email from a teacher regarding a middle school history lesson about the tenuous relationships of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, in which key Haitian perspectives were not accurately included. The teacher, who identifies as being both Dominican and Haitian, knew the importance of including the complete perspectives of both … Continued

Introducing Uncommon’s Open Source AP Curriculum Hub

At Uncommon Schools, we are deeply committed to supporting our students to get to and through college, which includes providing a college-ready academic course trajectory with preparation that allows all students to access Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Research indicates that students who take at least one AP course perform better in college than those who … Continued

Our Plans to Reverse COVID-related Learning Loss

The 2021-2022 school year launches in two months and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome our students to a new school year full of fresh opportunities. The reality of COVID learning loss requires us to set a bold and necessary goal: to reverse 100% of COVID-related learning loss by June 2022. To achieve this … Continued

‘I am Black and I am Proud To Be’: Fostering Self-Love and Celebrating Identity in the Elementary Classroom

School Wellness Lessons On the cue of “go” a class of 4th graders races to find their favorite book. Bursting with excitement, they eagerly return to their seats with popular titles such as Goosebumps and Harry Potter. At the start of this community building block, students have space to indulge in 5 minutes of leisure … Continued