MCHS teachers utilizing new teaching methods

At a glance ...

MCHS teachers are implementing new theories into their teaching practices to adapt to the needs of modern students.

Faculty members recognized a need for changes in teaching methods to better suit their 21st-century students.

The four practices chosen by teachers were seven standard-based "best" practices, Marzano's nine, ten practices for engagement and improving non-fiction writing.

Teachers have taken the concept of the Golden Circle — reversing what, how and why to why, how and what — and applied it to the way they present lessons and projects.


“We’re doing this right. This isn’t about us; it has to do with our students. Making sure they go out with the drive to go into higher education and do well.”

MCHS business/marketing teacher Krista Schenck about new theory into practice teaching methods

Moffat County High School teachers are adapting to the needs of their 21st-century students by implementing new teaching theories and practices in their classrooms.

Last October several MCHS teachers spent nearly a week learning Theory into Practice — a program that offers different teaching strategies — at the invitation of the Colorado Education Association.

In a presentation to last month to the Moffat County Board of Education MCHS principal Thom Schnellinger said the new teaching methods are aimed at engaging students by collaborating across networks and leading by influence, agility and adaptability. He said there is a focus on initiative and entrepreneurialism, effective oral and written communication, accessing and analyzing information, and curiosity and imagination.

MCHS business/marketing teacher Krista Schenck added the new theories mesh very well with the district’s new curriculum.

“Understanding by Design, (the new curriculum) works perfect with this,” she said. “We’re doing this right. This isn’t about us. It has to do with our students, making sure they go out with the drive to go into higher education and do well.”

The four practices the MCHS teachers chose to focus on were described as Seven, Nine, Ten and One. The Seven correlates to seven standard-based “best” practices; Nine stands for renowned education researcher Dr. Robert Marzano’s nine practices used in the classroom to drive home higher cognitive skills for students; Ten refers to ten practices for engagement to get students active in using 21st century skills; and One corresponds to a skill upon which the teachers want their students to improve: non-fiction writing.

“We can do a better job at getting our kids to write,” MCHS math teacher Kristin Ingalls said. “Not tell stories, but write off the top of their head. We want to know can you write arguments, facts, statements?”

MCHS English teacher Casey Kilpatrick said part of adding these practices to their teaching methods included a reversal in the way teachers’ present information to meet the needs of today’s learners.

Known as the Golden Circle, MCHS teachers learned the importance of reversing what, how and why to why, how and what.

“Most businesses communicate from the outside in. They show you the product first,” Kilpatrick said. “What if we change our thinking and reverse this?”

Kilpatrick said putting the why first, which is the equivalent of motivation in the Golden Circle, helps students understand the reason behind an assignment or project and gets them excited for the how, or the process. The end result, the product, is the what.

MCHS senior Rose Howe, 17, said she thinks taking teaching practices and modernizing them for the 21st century learner is a great idea.

“To be prepared for college I believe I need to know reading, writing, interpreting information and how to apply it in the real world,” Howe said.

Kilpatrick agreed with that sentiment. At the board of education meeting he said the methods weren’t about the teachers or their job.

He pointed at students in attendance and said, “It’s about these people sitting right over here. Getting them jobs and out into the world.”

And MCHS agriculture/science teacher John Haddan said the Theory into Practice program — much of which included information he and other teachers saw in masters programs — makes it easier to do just that.

“They encapsulated it and presented it in such a way that it was hands on instead of theory,” Haddan said. “It motivated the group to improve their teaching practices.”

In addition to learning the new methods the participating MCHS teachers also took a culture climate relationship survey to determine how open communication and collaboration is between teachers order to best implement and share those practices.

“We found we have a culture of trust between teachers which allows us to work together rather than in a bubble,” Kilpatrick said.

Ingalls said that relationship extended beyond just teachers and into administration.

“We’re fortunate to have Thom which I think was huge to have him with us in these conversations and going through the process,” Ingalls said.

Kilpatrick said the combination of that open culture and the new teaching methods has allowed the team to look at many root causes of achievement and behavioral issues within the school and from there come to feasible solutions.

“The more feedback we can give students and each other the better we can create an atmosphere of higher achievements,” Kilpatrick said.

Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or


Patrick Germond 1 year, 2 months ago

It sounds like a pretty big change. I very much hope it works. More writing is defenatly needed. I don't know how fancy you have to make the program though. In my day, teachers did this by saying, " Book report due next Friday". It worked very well and it didn't need to be sold to us like a con man saying for the tenth time, "Don't worry, this time I know what I'm doing". I wonder how in our day our teachers taught us to read, write and do math far better then they do now, and we didn't have computers or fancy programs. Oh yea, because if we didn't learn the principles were fired. It was their job to weed out the bad teachers. If that didn't work then the super intendant was fired. It was their job to manage and motivate the principles and make them responsible for their schools. It was the principles who were responsible for the teachers. Failure was not accepted. Now the people in charge blame the teachers, and get away with it, and keep their jobs. Here's a news flash, if you think a teacher needs to go, then let them go. If it causes a fight with the union, then fight. I truly don't think that's the case though. The union here has told me they personally want to get rid of bad teachers and are willing to do so. I've watched the teachers and have been impressed. I think this whole thing is management and the constant changes and programs they force on the teachers. I ask you, with the last round of sad scoring for our schools, has one person been fired? How about last time? Or the time before that? Nope, just more snake oil being sold from the top. And the school board is where a lot of this stupidity comes from. Go sit in. Your head will explode just listing to it. one thing for certitin though, when you leave, you to will know why our schools are failing. Oh yea, one more thing, the school board members are going to be wanting you to re-elect them. You should think about that, half don't even have kids in school. That's fine and all, but it makes a difference. If its your kid, this isn't no work in progress to you, you'd want someone fired.


Patrick Germond 1 year, 2 months ago

Here's a question? How is it that other school districts preform just fine with their teachers? Maybe they don't have Joe Petrone as their superintendent. He's been here before we got down into the bottom one percent, during the bottom one percent, and he still here as we stay close the the bottom percentages. The reason why because the school board likes him. They think alike. Yup, they say to themselves, no change needed here its just a phase we're going through. Don't forget to vote folks. By Election Day it will be clear what needs to be done.


calvinhobbs 1 year, 2 months ago

How bout this, get the parents more involved. My wife teaches. At here last parent teachers conference over 2 evenings she saw 22 parents, she see just over 100 a day. Guess what, everyone of the 22 kids had good grades. When you were in school there were no standards set by the state. Now there are, technology is a big one, but guess what, no computer teachers, teach technology in the regular ed class PLUS your standards! The math and science my kids brought home in the middle school is stuff I did not see until high school in the late 70. DO NOT just blame the school or the teachers. Some parents see the school as a baby sitter, then when the kid gets held in at lunch/ recess of after school to do their work, the parents throw a fit. Parents and kids believe that if the kid is in an advanced class they should always have an A, but there should be no homework or being accountable. How about mandatory summer school/retention for kids that lack skills, oh no, that affects their self esteem, and interferes with our vacation. Granted, there are bad teachers, just like every job out there. But do not try and lump all of them in one bunch,


Patrick Germond 1 year, 2 months ago

Who are you talking to Calvin? Not me because I didn't blame the teachers. Lol I will be addressing the standards in one of many up coming letters. I've had to pay for the college to teach my daughter an English class that the high school said she was good in. In fact the HS said they had met the college standards for her. She got a "A" in the hs class. She had to re take the class at the college, which I paid $350 for. The reasons for that are another subject entirely and I will address at a later time in a letter. But let me make it clear for the forth time and for people who don't read my actual post, I don't blame the teachers. Our teachers are very impressive,(for the third time). It's the school board and administration that blame the teachers! I do not! I've sat in with both, I know better. I would advise others to do the same. The reason for a school system that is as bad as ours is not hard to find. It's so bad, it's obvious where the problem lies. So other than a little misunderstanding I would agree with everything you said. Im sorry if I offended you but that blame the teachers thing is at the root of my disgust. I get a little emotional when people use that excuse and being accused of it myself is a little offending. Sorry


Jason Phillips 1 year, 2 months ago

I'm with Calvin. I tend to think Craig's deficiencies have more to do with deadbeat parents than the actual system itself. That's not to say the education system can't be improved, but at some point parents have to burden their share of accountability.


Patrick Germond 1 year, 2 months ago

Buff you and Calvin have a good point. One I agree with. I don't believe that's the big problem though. Something like poor parent participation might knock you down some but not to the extent we are dealing with. Let me play Devils advocate for a second. Here in Craig we have almost zero gang activity. We have a small crime rate. We have few drug problems, such as heroine, LSD, and meth. They are still here, but the PD keeps them in check compared to the big cities. We have more traditional families than large urban areas. We have lower unenployment then they do in urban areas. The only thing I think that we out do the urban areas in is alcohol. Which is no small thing, I'll grant. But over all, we should have a more stable home enviroment than most communities. I can't tell people enough, go to the school board meetings. You will see the problem, its right there in front of our faces. I'm not going to spoil my next letter by telling you what I mean. But trust me its right there. Our school system is so bad that the problem jumps out at you if you look for it. Please get involved. Please start standing up for our kids in Craig. Whatever it takes. Please quit accepting this. Write the paper. Post on this wall, but start standing up for the kids. We have to stop this if it's ever going to change. The people we've voted in will not. The school board members are all friends, they all meet, shake hands, ask about each others families. Then they eat dinner together. Not one of them will stand up for our kids if it means offending their friends, they just go along to get along. The people who work for them are all friends with them too. Meaning the administration. And they don't want to hurt their feelings either. The school board is very very happy to accept the excuses offered to them by their own management. At least that's my impression. But don't take my word for it, go see for yourself.


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