Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

GEAR UP Overview: The High School Years 2020 - 2025

Lindsay Hawkins, Shayna Pond | Published: May 7th, 2021 by K20 Center


In this GEAR UP Overview session, high school faculty and staff will be asked to identify the activities and experiences that students need to be prepared for a career and postsecondary education. They will also recognize how GEAR UP supports schools and their staff in creating these experiences.

Essential Questions

  • What activities and experiences in high school prepare students for postsecondary education (PSE) and careers?

  • What GEAR UP services will help you implement or facilitate those activities and experiences in your school?


  • Participants will identify the goals, benefits, and expectations of school participation in GEAR UP.

  • Participants will recognize the collaborative partnership between the school and K20 Center in GEAR UP.

Materials List


Using slides 1 and slide 2, introduce facilitators and the session by providing some background or context of the work your GEAR UP Program has done in the previous years. For example, share how the grant started working with the current cohort students in sixth and seventh grade. Use the image on slide two, to better illustrate the service years prior. Transition to the Engage activity by inviting participants to consider how they might support GEAR UP services as they learn more during this session. 


The first activity (slide 3) will draw upon the personal experiences and knowledge of the school staff. Introduce the Mentimeter survey and instruct participants to go to, enter the code displayed on the slide (set up prior to the session), and provide a minute or two for them to individually respond to the question, “What activities and experiences should high schools provide, so students are prepared for postsecondary education (PSE) and careers?”

As participants respond in Mentimeter, display and acknowledge their responses.

Move onto slide 4 and ask them to answer the next question in Mentimeter, “What would you need in order to create these activities and experiences for students?”

Again, as participants respond, display and acknowledge their responses in Mentimeter. Once the responses are submitted, change the response view from “Flowing Grid” to “Word Cloud.” Ask participants, “What do you notice about your responses?” Facilitate a brief discussion and transition to slide 5.

Introduce the session’s objectives (slide 5). “The objectives for today are for you to be able to identify the goals, benefits, and expectations of your school's participation in the GEAR UP grant. Also, we hope you will recognize that this is a partnership between the K20 Center and your school’s community. 


During the next activity (slide 6), participants will explore the K20 Center's Grant Infogram to learn more about the direct impact previous GEAR UP grants have had in other schools through their partnership with the K20 Center. Instruct participants to use the I Notice, I Wonder T-Chart on the front side of their GEAR UP Services Note Sheet to record things they notice (what stands out and seems important) and things they wonder (questions sparked) while they explore the Infogram. The I Notice, I Wonder strategy scaffolds the participants' exploration while actively processing the information they are reviewing.

After the allotted time, change to slide 7 and bring the group’s focus back together. Ask participants to share out what they noticed about the content provided, and if you have time, ask them to share a few of their questions (wonders). 

Do not get “stuck” on these two slides. The content and activity are to introduce the K20 Center’s credibility, highlight past success, and activate participant buy-in. More time will be spent with the next activity, taking a deeper dive into GEAR UP services and opportunities to develop partnerships with the staff. 


The activity on slide 8 is where participants will spend the majority of their time. They will review the second grant-specific Infogram and use the GEAR UP Services note sheet to learn more about the GEAR UP services available to their school community. When introducing this activity, make it clear that the things we are talking about and exploring today are directly impacted by the strength of the partnership between their school community and the K20 Center. “We will ask you to be our partner working towards the common goal of student success. The greatest impact will happen through our partnership with the staff, students, and parents. We cannot do all of this without your commitment to systemic growth/change, continual learning, and support.”

Instruct them to begin looking at services that directly pertain to their role within the school community. For example, classroom teachers may want to review topics like ARA, LEAD, and Professional Development. A counselor may want to look at some of the mentoring services available to students, Counselor Academy, or any of the parent services. While administrators should be familiar with all the services available, we suggest they begin with Action Plans, Leadership, and College Teams. 

Provide at least 10 minutes for participants to review selected services and record notes on their note sheet. Afterward, allow a few participants time to share a little about the services they reviewed. Answer any questions they may have, but again do not spend too much time here. This was just an opportunity to “dip their toes in the water” of the GEAR UP services.


After a few participants have shared about the services they reviewed, move to slide 9 and revisit the Mentimeter survey responses about what high schools should provide and what the school community needs in order to make those things happen. Begin connecting what participants said they needed to the GEAR UP services provided, by posing the question on slide 9, “What GEAR UP services might help you implement or facilitate those activities and experiences [mentioned in the Mentimeter survey]?” 

This discussion should lead directly to participation opportunities (roles and responsibilities) within the grant services.


Transition to slide 10, “It takes a village, and we need your help!” Using the slide to guide the conversation, pose the statement and the two questions. Do not rush participant conversations and give time for them to reflect and share after each item appears on the slide.

Close the session by reminding participants that this is a partnership and the grant is similar to a marathon, we will not complete all these services in one day, month, or year.

Research Rationale

The stakeholders who are working within the GEAR UP grant to support the partnership between the district and the K20 Center are crucial to the implementation of GEAR UP services. Welcoming and priming these stakeholders to a new program is important. It not only establishes buy-in but introduces K20 Center and its mission, approach, and ideals as well as to the GEAR UP program and its goals. Inquiry throughout the session allows participants to explore this relationship, discerning how the K20 Center and GEAR UP work together to establish a college- and career-going culture that leads to life-altering benefits for students, families, and the larger school community.


K20 Center. (n.d.). I notice, I wonder. Strategies.