Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

GEAR UP Staff Overview

Jane Baber, Lindsay Hawkins, Lindsay Williams | Published: September 16th, 2020 by K20 Center


This session provides an overview for staff at site recipients of 2018 GEAR UP projects. Through a series of activities, staff will be introduced to the K20 Center, understand what GEAR UP is, share the value of authentic teaching and learning, and also communicate the value of college-going culture.

Essential Question

How can the GEAR UP grant and the K20 Center support and increase students' and families' college and career awareness?

Learning Goals

  • Participants will identify characteristics and generate questions about K20 and its research-based professional development approaches.

  • Participants will identify characteristics and generate questions about the goals, benefits, and expectations of participation in the GEAR UP grant.

  • Participants will apply their understanding of the benefits of going to college to create an image depicting the effects that going to college could have on an individual student they know.

Materials List

  • Presentation Slides (attached)

  • GEAR UP Overview infographic (poster size) (attached)

  • GEAR UP Overview booklets (small size) (attached, one for each grant)

  • 3-2-1 and I Notice, I Wonder handout (attached)

  • Benefits of College: A Review of the Literature (attached)

  • Sticky notes


Welcome participants, and introduce yourself and the session using the attached Presentation Slides.

Display slide 3. Introduce the Snap, Clap, Pop strategy to establish community and model the K20 LEARN strategies, as well as the authentic teaching and learning that guide our professional development. Inform participants: The following activity is an example of an engaging and rigorous instructional strategy that you can use in your classroom. This entire overview session is embedded with other strategies that are appropriate for modification to your content.

One by one, ask participants to demonstrate each listed action if they match the given description of themselves/their background:

  • Have you attended a K20 event or PD before? – Give a wave!

  • Do you think quality PD involves modeling strategies? – Say, “Here, here!”

  • Do you teach social studies or ELA? – Pose like you’re writing an essay or a story.

  • Do you teach science or math? – Pose like you’re thinking of the answer to a problem.

  • Do you teach another subject? – Act out your subject.

  • Do you think learning should be engaging and relevant? – Say, “I do!”

  • Were you a first-generation college student? – Say, “Cheers!”

  • Did you participate in GEAR UP as a student? – Clap your hands.

  • Have you participated in GEAR UP in another capacity? – Shout out your position.

  • Do you have a pet? – Mimic its sound!

After this activity, go to slide 4 to share the session objectives with participants.


After engaging in the community-building Snap, Clap, Pop strategy, participants will explore an overview of the K20 Center, the grant's research-based approaches, GEAR UP, and student benefits of postsecondary and college opportunities by interacting with the infographic below.

Infographic for GEAR UP Overview

Transition to slide 5. Have participants divide into small groups (or pairs) to review either the left side or the right side of the small infographic at their tables. Using the I Notice, I Wonder strategy and the I Notice, I Wonder portion of the attached 3-2-1 and I Notice, I Wonder handout, have groups record what they notice (true statements) and wonder (questions they have) about their assigned side of the infographic.

Consider sharing these guiding questions to help any participants who are struggling to record their I Notice, I Wonder statements and questions.

  • What connections can you make to your school?

  • Do you notice any elements that will be exciting or meaningful when connected to your classroom or site?

  • Where do you see connections between your site and/or your personal goals and the information on this infographic?

Go to slide 6. Ask small groups (or pairs) to select ONE statement they noticed and ONE question they wondered about and record each on individual sticky notes. (NOTE: If you have two colors of sticky notes to offer participants, ask groups to record the “I Notice” on one color and the “I Wonder” on the other. If the sticky notes are the same color, have groups write "I Notice" at the top of one sticky note and "I Wonder" at the top of the second sticky note.)

When they are finished, have groups place their two stickies on the large poster on the wall, while being mindful of previous questions and statements.

After all groups have posted their I Notice, I Wonder statements on the large poster(s), engage participants in a whole-group discussion of common points or connections noticed and questions wondered.

Transition through slides 7–17. As questions are addressed, you might find it useful to work in "sneak peeks" or more information about other general K20 services that will be offered during the grant.


After they have worked with the GEAR UP infographic, inform participants they are going to condense information about the grant elements into individual, “bite-sized,” meaningful connections.

Go to slide 18, 19, or 20 to review FUTURE, MY SUCCESS, or OKC. Using the 3-2-1 strategy and the 3-2-1 portion of the attached 3-2-1 and I Notice, I Wonder handout, have participants complete the following:

  • 3: Record three student benefits of postsecondary opportunities or college.

  • 2: Identify two benefits this partnership will have for your school.

  • 1: Think of one student or group of students you envision this grant affecting (write a pseudonym or description).


Transition to slide 21. Have participants watch the video of a GEAR UP success story as an example of one student for whom the grant made a difference.

Go to slide 22. Ask participants to think deeply about the one student (or group of students) they chose in the 3-2-1 activity by considering the following questions:

  • How will this partnership make a difference for this student?

  • What does that difference "look" like?

After participants have reflected and shared their answers, have participants look at the “picture frame” and the Starfish Story on the bottom portion of the 3-2-1 handout. Ask participants to follow along as you read aloud the story to the whole group.

After reading the story, reinforce to participants that this GEAR UP grant can benefit and provide opportunities to all students. However, keeping particular students in mind helps us give meaning and a personal connection to this large influx of sitewide changes.

Go to slide 23. Inside the picture frame, ask participants to draw a one-frame Cognitive Comic that shows how this GEAR UP grant will make a difference for the student(s) they have in mind. This snapshot will be a memento that each participant can take with them and keep tucked away somewhere safe in their classroom to remind them of the important and meaningful work they are doing.

Provide a brief amount of time for those who want to share their Cognitive Comics. If time allows, go to slide 24 to showcase the K20 LEARN site and the myriad strategies available for participants to use in their own classrooms.


After participants have shared some of their Cognitive Comics, they will complete the online K20 Rapid Feedback Evaluation.

Research Rationale

See the attached document, Benefits of College: A Review of the Literature.