Glossary – 2018

1:1 Mentoring 

A component of a Summit Learning environment that is an opportunity for teachers to connect with their students to work on academic and as well as non-academic goals. Teachers conduct weekly 1:1 mentoring sessions with their mentees. All students have a mentor who serves as their coach and advocate, supporting them as they develop strong habits and meet academic outcomes.



An individual, pair, or group opportunity to practice a skill or move toward an associated checkpoint. It is a Google doc, a Google sheet, a Google slideshow, or Microsoft 365 file which creates a student-specific version that they can edit.

Technical note: The Platform’s definition of activity is limited to a task which requires an interaction between the student(s) and the document.  When a file is designated as an “activity,” each student will receive his/her own copy of the file to edit that is accessible to the teacher. 


Additional Focus Area

A focus area that has been identified as helpful content knowledge but is not central to the course standards, college and career readiness, and/or the course projects or concept units. Students are encouraged, but not required, to complete this focus area’s content assessment. These add up to a full nine points to a student’s grade in a course, and therefore, can make a difference of nearly a full letter grade. Note that unlike Power Focus Areas, students can receive “partial credit” for completing Additionals. So, if a student only completed half of her Additionals, they would still receive half of the possible points (~4.5) added to their grade.


Base Curriculum

The curriculum that is automatically copied into your school’s local version of the Platform at the start of training. Over time you may edit the Base Curriculum for your specific school site. It is the core curriculum that is used across Summit Public Schools and made available for all Summit Learning schools


Challenge Focus Area

An opportunity for a student to learn more content related to the course beyond what is located in Power and Additional Focus Areas. A student might complete a challenge focus area in order to prepare for the AP test associated with that course, experience more academic rigor, and/or further develop their individual academic interests.


Check for Understanding

A self-assessment provided at the end of an objective’s resources in a focus area. It is aligned with the objective and its content assessment items and it can take many formats (online interactive activity or quiz, or file with questions and answers, etc).



A Checkpoint… 

  1. Is a formative assessment.

  2. Clearly contributes to the completion of the final product(s).

  3. Supports cognitive skill development or conceptual understanding.

  4. Is an important opportunity for the student to receive feedback.

In addition to providing other forms of formative feedback, teachers may mark Checkpoints in the platform as:

  • Red = Checkpoint needs extensive revision, student should not move forward without significant re-work 

  • Yellow = student must incorporate teacher feedback in order to be on-track

  • Green = student is on-track, no revision needed

Within a math concept unit, Checkpoints operate more like exit tickets; they occur after some instruction has occurred, and are used to gauge students’ understanding of the unit’s enduring understandings. Concept units are designed to have ~1 Checkpoint per week of instruction.

Cognitive Skills 

A collection of 36 higher-order thinking skills that are geared towards readiness for college, career and life. Cognitive skills apply across multiple subject matters. They are categorized within the following domains: Textual Analysis, Using Sources, Inquiry, Analysis and Synthesis, Composing/Writing, Speaking/Listening, and Products and Presentations, and they are aligned with the Common Core Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, Advanced Placement Curriculum Frameworks, and the National Council for Social Studies C3 Framework. Cognitive skills are taught during Project Time and assessed through a project’s final products.


Cognitive Skills Rubric 

The single rubric used to assess projects across all subjects and grade levels. Every project assesses a set of the cognitive skills. The rubric details nine different levels of each cognitive skill, spanning from “no evidence” (level 0) to “college level” (level 8). 



Summit Learning components are: Mentoring, Projects and Self-Direction.

Concept (math) 

Each math course in the Summit Learning Platform has a unique list of concepts, which are the mathematical outcomes to be taught in the course. 


Concept Rubric (math)

Each concept has a row in the 5-level concept rubric, which codifies Summit’s interpretation of the range of complexity of each concept. When students show evidence of their understanding on end-of-unit assessments, teachers score their work on the rubric.


Concept Unit (math) 

The collection of activities, exercise sets, and portfolio problems that leads to students learning one or multiple concepts. A unit does not have a minimum or maximum length of time, but most take between 2 and 5 weeks.


Conceptual Understanding (math)

The knowledge of how, why, and when a mathematical idea works.



The subject-specific material (facts, definitions, information, formulas, procedural skills, basic concepts, grammatical structures) comprising each discipline. This material can be studied independently, practiced or memorized at a student’s own pace. Content comprises 30% of a student’s grade: 21% through Power Focus Areas, which are required, and 9% through Additional Focus Areas, which are optional, but highly encouraged. Content is determined by various state and national standards including Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards, California State Content Standards, and Advanced Placement. The content in focus areas is generally lower depth of knowledge, usually limited to comprehension, application, and/or analysis of content knowledge; content is deepened in projects and concept units.


Content Assessment 

The ten-question assessment that a student requests when ready to show their learning of the content objectives of a specific focus area. Content assessments are computer-scored immediately upon completion; the passing score is 8/10 for non-AP courses and 7/10 for AP courses. A student must get approval from a teacher before attempting the assessment. If the student does not pass, the student may take the content assessment again.


Diagnostic Assessment 

An opportunity for a student to check what they know already or a way to gauge if they’re prepared for the content assessment. Diagnostic assessments are aligned to the focus area objectives and presented in the same format as the content assessments. A student can take them without the approval of the teacher at any time.


Enduring Understanding 

An enduring understanding…

  1. Is an important inference, drawn from the experience of experts, stated as a specific and useful generalization.

  2. Refers to transferable, big ideas having enduring value beyond a specific topic.

  3. Involves abstract, counterintuitive, and easily misunderstood ideas.

  4. May provide a conceptual foundation for basic skills.

  5. Is deliberately framed as a generalization – the “moral of the story.”

Within math, to clarify the rationale behind each math course’s chunking and sequencing of concept units, each unit contains a small number of enduring understandings. These are important mathematical ideas that represent the long-lasting realizations we want students to discover as a unit progresses, building on each other over the course of a year. Typically aligning to ~1 week of teaching, they are designed to help focus and undergird teachers’ instruction.

Entry Event

A common learning experience at the beginning of a project, typically teacher-led, that introduces the project, the final products, the application of the cognitive skills throughout the project, and that activates prior knowledge of the project’s content.

Essential Questions 

An essential question…

  1. Is open-ended; that is, it typically will not have a single, final, and correct answer.

  2. Is thought-provoking and intellectually engaging, often sparking discussion and debate.

  3. Calls for higher-order thinking, such as analysis, inference, evaluation, prediction. It cannot be effectively answered by recall alone.

  4. Points toward important, transferable ideas within (and sometimes across) disciplines.

  5. Raises additional questions and sparks further inquiry.

  6. Requires support and justification, not just an answer.

  7. Recurs over time; that is, the question can and should be revisited again and again.


Exercise Set (math) 

A collection of procedure-based problems tied to a concept lesson that are intended to reinforce and solidify students’ thinking from the lesson and spiral math from prior lessons/units.


Final Product 

A final product is…

  1. The culmination of the prolonged inquiry in a project.

  2. An authentic summative assessment of the cognitive skills associated with the project. 

There may be more than one final product in a project.


Focus Area 

A chunk of content within a course that is broken down into 2-5 content objectives. Students should learn this content through the use of materials on the playlists. To demonstrate their learning of the objectives, students must pass a content assessment.  This is typically at the Know, Understand, Apply levels on Bloom’s hierarchy of learning.


Focus Area Key Terms

Terms that a student should be able to define and understand in order to learn the focus area’s objectives.


Focus Area Objectives

The content goals of a focus area. There are 2-5 objectives per focus area.


Habits of Success

Habits of Success are the social and emotional skills that enable students to be successful at both academic and non-academic pursuits. Summit has adopted the Building Blocks for Learning framework developed by Dr. Brooke Stafford-Brizard on behalf of Turnaround for Children (2016). The Building Blocks framework integrates decades of the most promising research on social-emotional learning in an aligned and comprehensive manner.

HAT Feedback

Honest, actionable and timely feedback – feedback that is authentic to the situation and the style of the person involved, has clear actions that can be practiced and learned to improve on the behavior, and provided in a timeframe where the content or skill is still relevant and important.

Introductory Materials

A section of resources placed at the beginning of a focus area that guide students on how to engage with the focus area and/or the purpose of learning the content. An introductory resource might be a “hook” for learning the content, a general overview of the content, or a tool students can use as they work through the playlist.



Observable learner actions that indicate the presence of a particular principle or condition.



All students have a mentor who serves as their coach and advocate, supporting them as they develop strong character, life and self-directed learning skills.


Partial-group Workshops 

Targeted learning experiences for a group of students who would benefit from teacher-driven support with a specific cognitive skill, content understanding or task. Partial-group workshops are designed around a specific student need as identified by available data. 


Performance Tasks (math) 

Math problems that elicit individual evidence of a student’s understanding at the end of a concept unit. Students’ performance tasks are scored by the teacher using the concept rubric.


Personalized Learning Time (PLT) 

At many Summit Learning Schools, schedules are adjusted to give dedicated time for students to use the self-directed learning cycle to study Focus Areas. This time is often called “personalized learning time” (PLT). During PLT, students move at their own pace to learn discipline-specific content and receive support from their teachers, mentor and peers.


 PEERS Goals

These are goals that a coach supports a teacher to set to change an aspect of his/her instruction.  PEERS is an acronym. 

  • Powerful:  Will make a difference in student’s lives

  • Easy:  Easy to implement

  • Emotionally Compelling: Compel people to action by moving them emotionally

  • Reachable:  A reachable goal is one that can be reached and that the teacher will know he/she has reached.

  • Student-Focused:  The goal is student-focused, not teacher focused

Portfolio Problems (and Portfolio Time) (math)

Puzzling, complex, often application-based problems that take the concepts students have learned deeper. Students typically choose one or more portfolio problems from a menu to complete during Portfolio Time, either individually or collaboratively.

Power Focus Area 

A focus area that has been identified as essential content knowledge, based on course standards. It is central to college and career readiness and the course’s projects/concept units. Students must pass every Power Focus Area’s content assessment by the end of the school year in order to pass the course. Note that a student does NOT receive partial credit for Power Focus Areas.


Procedural Fluency (math) 

Procedural fluency is the ability to apply procedures accurately, efficiently, and flexibly; to transfer procedures to different problems and contexts; to build or modify procedures from other procedures; and to recognize when one strategy or procedure is more appropriate to apply than another. Procedural fluency — often developed through focused practice on exercises, not problems — is an important part of students’ math education. It enables them to focus on higher-level thinking and more advanced mathematics. It can support and solidify students’ emerging conceptual understanding.



A project…

  1. Is a prolonged inquiry into an open-ended question(s) relevant to the discipline.

  2. Aims to develop a set of cognitive skills through experiences authentic to the discipline.

  3. Is aligned with key content from one or more focus areas.

  4. Includes final product(s), checkpoints, activities, and resources.

  5. Results in a final product(s) which demonstrates a student’s ability to apply their cognitive skills and deepen their understanding. 


Resource (within a focus area) 

Organized by objective, resources provide the content and/or opportunity to interact with the content needed to learn that objective.


Resource (within a project)

A static file or a static link that students can refer to in order to complete activities or the work associated with the checkpoint itself. With a resource there is one version that all students can view. A resource can be a link to a relevant website or a tool that helps a student complete an activity or a checkpoint. 

Technical note: Some resources direct students to participate in a classroom activity, but are not considered an activity on the platform because students don’t type into these documents.



Scaffolds are resources that make a task more accessible. Scaffolds are needed to keep activities within the upper limit of a student’s ZPD. Typically, they temporarily support a student in performing a skill that would have been out of his/her reach without the additional support.

See it, Name it, Do it

The “See it, Name it, Do it” format of professional development is a format of adult learning in which participants experience learning (See it), name key elements of that learning (Name it), and then practice that learning (Do it), all within a single professional development session.

Self-Directed Learning Cycle

The self-directed learning cycle is the process by which students set a goal, plan, learn, show and reflect on the process. 

  • Set Goal: Set a goal.

  • Plan: Develop a plan to achieve that goal.

  • Learn: Learn what you need to know.

  • Show: Show evidence of what you have learned.

  • Reflect: Reflect on the process.

Student-Driven Activities

Student driven means that students can move forward authentically through a complex task without waiting for the teacher to prompt them step-by-step. It implies that it is not batched and that students don’t all have to stop and start at the same place. 

Ideally, student-driven means there are multiple access points and a description of how the teacher is effectively monitoring or leading a partial group. (Note: Setting up a learning experience as student-driven allows for the opportunity for the teacher to meet with students in a partial group. So, we’re still considering the agenda item overall to be Student driven)

Summit Learning Platform 

The online tool that is the technology backbone of a Summit Learning environment. The Summit Learning Platform is a free online tool that helps students track progress towards their short and long-term goals, learn content at their own pace, and reflect on their learning with mentors. It allows teachers to customize instruction to meet their students’ individual needs and interests and supports stronger relationships between teachers and students. 

Task (math) 

A math problem, or set of problems, that is used as an in-class activity. Math tasks typically range from approximately 30 minutes to 120 minutes.

Teacher-Led Instruction

Learning experience in which the class is batched into a single learning experience in which students start and stop at the same point and cannot move forward without teacher prompting. These experiences are effective when there is a strong purpose for the teacher-led experience (e.g. building community, sharing a common experience, students hearing student perspectives), frequent opportunities for student processing, and accountability systems that ensure students are having the purposeful experience. 


Teaching Materials 

A teacher-facing section of the project window that may include a Project Overview, sample project calendar, list of supplies, and/or standards covered by the project.


Whole Group Experience 

A whole group experience is whenever the whole class is engaged in the same learning experience. A whole group experience can be student-driven or teacher-led.  

Teachers use whole group experiences to…

  • prime students for a set of personalized activities, 

  • build culture in the classroom through a circle or shared activity, 

  • increase student motivation/buy-in with a demonstration or shared experience, 

  • set a vision of high quality work with a text or example with strong teacher modeling,

  • build understanding through hearing multiple voices, or

  • facilitate student-driven whole group learning or processing.  

Some of these experiences could be student-driven if students are moving the experience forward without teacher prompts, such as student-facilitated Socratic discussions, student-led debates, etc. 


Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) 

Lev Vygotsky’s idea of zone of proximal development (ZPD) describes the intellectual space between what a student can do alone and what they can do with specific assistance (scaffolding). Students benefit most from instruction targeted to their ZPD because it helps them learn new skills by building on previously established skills.

%d bloggers like this: