The Cottonwood School strives to develop students who are prepared to be part of an increasingly complex, demanding and competitive 21st century. In addition to being influenced by Montessori principles, TCS values the skills highlighted by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P-21):: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.
- Communication – Effective oral, written, and nonverbal communication for multiple purposes within diverse contexts are vital skills for students. They inform, instruct, motivate, persuade, and share ideas through in-person, virtual, and phone conversations between peers, teachers, community partners, experts as well as through the use of technology. We will build and achieve these skills through PBL, student-choice activities, and opportunities for authentic performance assessments including presentations, student-led workshops, and Defense of Learning exhibitions
- Collaboration – Students interact and work together to reach both individual and group goals, putting creativity and learned and practiced expertise in projects that require collaboration with other students and/or family and community members. This important skill is achieved through group content projects, peer group presentations, community nights, group web-conference sessions, and student generated clubs.
- Critical Thinking – Students practice and demonstrate the ability to look at problems in a new way and reach understanding or conclusions based on evidence and cross-curriculum learning of subjects and disciplines. They are able to articulate their thought processes and hone their inductive, deductive, argumentative, and analytical skills. Rubrics are used to guide students to think in clear and concise ways.
- Creativity – Students try new approaches to get things done, including exercising innovation and invention through projects that call on students to exercise the higher levels of thinking. Students can participate in various extracurricular activities such as clubs and programs on campus and in the community that highlight their abilities.
In order to ensure that students develop these skills, TCS will implement the following Learning Outcomes for every student in every class. The aim is to ensure that students graduating from TCS demonstrate the characteristics of an educated person in the 21st Century:
Cottonwood Learning Outcomes
- Knowledge and Thinking – Students will develop the ability to reason, problem-solve, develop sound arguments or decisions, and create new ideas by using appropriate sources and applying the knowledge and skills of a discipline.
- Agency – Students will develop a growth mindset and take ownership over learning.
- Collaboration - Students will develop the ability to be a productive member of diverse teams, through strong interpersonal communication and a commitment to shared success, leadership, and initiative.
- Oral Communication - Students will develop the ability to communicate knowledge and thinking through effective oral presentations.
- Written Communication - Students will develop the ability to effectively communicate knowledge and thinking through writing.
College and Career Readiness has a very specific meaning at The Cottonwood School. When the Charter School says it is focused on getting students college, career, and civic life ready, it means that every Cottonwood School graduate leaves aware, eligible, and prepared to pursue postsecondary education or training.
- Aware - The student understands post-secondary options and sees the importance of continuing their education.
- Eligible - The student completes requirements necessary to continue their education.
- Prepared - The student graduates from high school with the skills necessary to further education without remediation.