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Essential Skills

Goal of the Essential Skills Guide

Become strategic problem solvers and analytical thinkers.

Purpose of Essential Skills Libguide

As you transition to the Upper School, a greater emphasis is placed on thinking, analyzing and understanding. Since moving from a concrete understanding of material to a more abstract one is a significant jump, you must be thoughtful and disciplined in your approach. Specifically, you should consider the following:

Orient Yourself: In each task you are given, you must be able to figure out what rules apply and what strategy would be the most effective to achieve success. Students who are strategic can effectively see similarities between different situations as well as differences in otherwise similar situations, and then adapt and shift their behavior effectively. Two essential steps in problem solving are:

  • Know fundamental rules.
  • Understand how to apply fundamental rules to various problems.

Think Analytically: Rather than simply learning individual facts and ideas, students must see how multiple facts and ideas work together to create deeper understandings. The three components of analysis are:

  • IDEA (thesis, claim, argument or hypothesis): Students must be able to identify or create a larger idea that answers a question and shows depth of understanding.
  • EVIDENCE (facts, event or data): Students must be able to identify what information relates to the thesis, claim or hypothesis.
  • RELEVANCE or ANALYSIS: Students must be able to understand and explain how the information relates to the thesis, claim or hypothesis.

These building blocks of understanding will be emphasized in every discipline. Assignments and assessments are intentionally created to develop and deepen one or more of these elements. By understanding this overall objective, students should be able to see the relevance and importance of each assignment and assessment, and then transfer growth in one discipline to their other work.