The Challenge 21 curriculum is focused on the California standards as well as an established set of 21st century skills:
Life and Character Skills
Initiative, Goal Setting, Planning, Flexibility, Leadership, Responsibility
Communication and Collaboration Skills
Writing, Presenting, Questioning, Teamwork
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills
Identify Problems, Evaluate Options, Justify Arguments, Synthesize Information
Information, Media, and Technology Skills
Research, Analyze, Organize, Evaluate, Use Resources Effectively
Creativity and Innovation Skills
Our Challenge Units are carefully crafted to integrate concepts across content areas. Challenge 21 allows us to provide inquiry-based, differentiated opportunities for students to demonstrate and share what they have learned through meaningful, authentic opportunities to apply their knowledge. The units always involve some sort of real-life work so that the students are able to see connections between disciplines, and the units are designed to be somewhat open-ended so that the students can creatively challenge themselves to exceed the expectations. Many units are also designed to provide our students with opportunities to develop skills that lead to voice as a citizen. We often collaborate with members of our local community who share with our students the application of skills within their fields of expertise.
At Excelsior, a strong focus on inquiry-based learning has led our staff to think outside the box as they plan instruction in all content areas. Many additional innovations have been developed as a result of the commitment the Excelsior staff has to the Challenge 21 model and mindset. Excelsior School was very proud to be recognized as a 2016 California Gold Ribbon School for our Challenge 21 program.
The following are examples of some of the recent Challenge Units developed for students at Excelsior: