The Challenge 21 ModelTop of Page

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

Imagine, Brainstorm, Design, Create, Invent
Graphic of Challenge 21 program skills

Challenge UnitsTop of Page

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. 


Grade Level Challenge Units at ExcelsiorTop of Page

The following are examples of some of the recent Challenge Units developed for students at Excelsior:

4th Grade

  • Biome Challenge Unit - Students act as museum curators to research and construct a biome museum, including displays related to their biome and the animals that live there.
  • The Last Mission Challenge Unit - Students work in groups to create and design the 22nd California Mission, including detailed plans and models of their missions.
  • Cinderella Challenge Unit - Students research Cinderella stories from a variety of cultures and then apply the components of the classic fairy tale to publish their own creative Cinderella story.

5th Grade

  • Summer Vacation Challenge Unit - Students plan a summer vacation across America to visit several historic sites.  The plan includes a detailed itinerary with information about their route, mileage, destinations, and budget.
  • Author Study - Students read and analyze several books by an author. They conduct research about the author and write a critique of the author’s works, then compose a short story in the style of the author.
  • Health Plan Challenge Unit - Students work in teams and to research, plan and create a personal training, nutrition, and fitness plan designed to promote life-long health.

6th Grade

  • Gameboard Business Challenge Unit - Students act as game board business owners to design and market a board game to teach others about an ancient civilization.
  • STEM Challenge Unit - Students engineer STEM projects and display their work to teach others about reverse engineering or Rube Goldberg concepts.
  • Energy Challenge Unit - Students research, create and produce an educational video or presentation to teach others about sources of energy.

Challenge 21 StandardsTop of Page

Below are the identified Challenge 21 standards for 4th - 6th grades. For more information about the district's Challenge 21 program, click here

ResourcesTop of Page