The student news site of Jones College Prep High School


The student news site of Jones College Prep High School


The student news site of Jones College Prep High School


HUSH, a new look

Social science department introduces new teaching approach

The social science department at Jones College Prep has begun introducing a new approach to the Honors US History (HUSH) curriculum for the past two years, introduced to the class by teacher Laura Strickland.

The curriculum is structured as a series of leveled assignments that can give students a deeper understanding of the content, with each level contributing to a higher grade. This promotes self-pacing and frequent check-ins in the class.

I kind of think about it as a pyramid with three levels and those levels are seed level at the bottom, sprout [in the middle] and bloom at the top,” said Strickland. “Each of those levels correlates to a grade that a student would get in my class.”

Doing all the base, or “seed,” level assignments will earn a student a C grade if that is all a student does.

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“Those are the assignments that every student is working on on a daily basis that they should easily be able to complete in the time we have allotted in class without taking home the homework,” said Strickland.

After the seed level assignments are completed, students then have the option to complete “sprout” level assignments to earn up to a B grade.

“And so if you get to that [point], you are allowed to then turn in a sprout assignment,” said Strickland. “[This can be] anything from making a very short podcast with a compatriot or [for example] I’ve had students analyzing the Oregon Trail game.”

In this curriculum, based on the book “Layered Curriculum” by Kathie Nunley shown to Strickland by social science teacher Kate Nelson, there are various options for students to complete to earn the letter grade they aim for.

“For every [seed assignment] that I want them to do there’s usually about three or four options. And as they do them, they’ll sign up to check in with me,” said Strickland. “And I’ll say ‘Great, you turned it in. You just read a textbook chapter.’ I’m going to ask you a follow up question about it to make sure that you’ve got what I really want you to get out of it. Mark it, great, and then they can turn to these other sprout and bloom assignments.”

HUSH student Gabriela Gonzalez ‘26 spoke to the flexibility of the class and its self-paced workload.

“It’s pretty simple. It’s basic, it fits your needs so you get to choose which ones you get to do on which certain day and you could split them up the way you need to,” said Gonzalez.

This flexibility in the course allows students to manage their time as they need to best fit their workload.

“I’ve seen many of my friends also like the curriculum as well considering that other classes may be more stressful than others,” said Gonzalez. “For HUSH, though, it lets you choose when you want to do your assignments and how many you want to do.”

Fellow HUSH teacher Daniel Kovacs is implementing the new teaching strategy for the first time this academic year, which is Strickland’s second year of teaching it.

“I think that [Strickland’s] model has been very well implemented in her classroom,” said Kovacs. “I’m still kind of getting a grasp of how to implement it on a large scale, but on a small scale, I’ve provided options for students to express the same understanding of the material in different modalities.”

Giving students liberty to work largely on their own time is a model to help students at colleges and universities.

“A lot of the courses here, they could be difficult if you don’t manage your time well and being able to give you the liberty to choose which assignments you get to do and when you do them helps you to transition to college when you get to choose your own classes and we all the time,” said Gonzalez.

On top of everything else this curriculum offers, the constant check-in with students allows Strickland to better connect with students.

“I’ve met with students somewhere between 950 times to probably more like 1000 times this semester, and those are all one-on one-conversations I’m having with students,” said Strickland. “I think that is important in terms of how I value this and why I value this: I have such a better sense of individual skill sets and interests, I’m able to tap into that more than I think I was beforehand which is also a large part of why I continue to pursue this system because I’m able to build one-on-one relationships way faster.”

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Noah Barbas '24
Noah Barbas '24, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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