New to McAuliffe? Then this glossary is for you!

This glossary will help you to navigate all of the "McAuliffe-isms". This document is a part of our Family Handbook which can be seen in full here.

Authentic Audience
An audience beyond the classroom teacher that helps scholars care about purpose and quality of their work.

Each scholar is assigned to a Crew before they begin their journey at McAuliffe. Scholars meet each day with their Crew leader (advisor) for check-ins, setting of goals (academic, personal, and social), building of portfolio, preparation for student led conferences etc. There is Academic Crew which is focused on the portfolio building, SLC prep, and goal-setting and tracking and Team-building Crew which is time for group development activities, discussions, etc.

Community Meeting
Adults and scholars work together to facilitate monthly community meetings at the MetroWest YMCA. (All students, faculty, and staff, walk to the YMCA once per month for this special event.) Community meeting facilitators engage the community in interactive activities that get scholars interacting with one another in a fun and engaging way. Community meetings are also a forum to recognize members of the School community by presenting HOWLs Awards after each of the three Trimester reporting periods and for scholars and adults to share public thank yous and apologies.

Culminating Events
Each Learning Expedition ends with a Culminating Event, at which scholars share their learning with families, the extended McAuliffe community and invited guests. All scholars are expected to attend.

“Doing things well”; In EL schools, teachers create craftsmanship targets to help scholars create high quality work. Scholars revise their work and persevere to make their best even better.

There are three opportunities for your child to participate in the McAuliffe Enrichment program that takes place after school according to a published schedule. Transportation home must be provided by parents/guardians or a carpool. Enrichment program information will be sent out to families during the weeks prior to the start of each session. Families must sign up for classes and clubs promptly as they do fill up.

Expeditionary Learning (EL)
EL partners with schools, districts, charter schools, and states to build teacher capacity in service of a more ambitious vision of scholar achievement: one that joins academic challenge and scholarship to critical skills like perseverance, critical thinking, and an ethic of contribution to prepare scholars for success in college, career and citizenship.

The EL model challenges scholars to think critically and take active roles in their classrooms and communities,
resulting in higher achievement and greater engagement in school. EL provides schools with professional development, coaching, and online tools to improve curriculum design, instruction, school culture, leadership, and assessment practices. The national network of EL schools and professional colleagues includes more than 150 schools, 4,000 teachers, and 45,000 scholars.

People skilled in a particular field of study. Teachers utilize experts to support authentic research, critique scholar’s work, model, and provide guidance in expedition development. The EL approach encourages the regular use of experts in the classroom and in the field, not just as “presenters” but as active partners in enriching the quality of scholar’s thinking and work.

Field research done by scholars. EL distinguishes fieldwork from “field trips.” In fieldwork, scholars are active researchers and not passive observers of a prepared experience. For example, a field trip might involve elementary school scholars taking a guided tour at a restored colonial village. Fieldwork, on the other hand, might have those scholars “apprentice” themselves to a particular craftsman at the village, helping with the work, interviewing, and taking photos, becoming an “expert” in that craft. Fieldwork in EL schools often involves service learning.

Friday Newsletters
Each week a Friday Newsletter is emailed to families and posted on the website. You need to OPT in to receiving this weekly communication. This information communicates information about upcoming events as well as flyers and notices. It is important that you look at it over the weekend and have your child return filled out forms in a Labeled Envelope.

HOWLs stands for Habits of Work and Learning. We anchor our schoolwide norms in these habits: Perseverance, Inquiry, Responsibility, and Collaboration. HOWLs targets are  taught alongside learning targets and are assessed separately from academic progress.

Lab takes place three times per week for 45 minutes. During Lab scholars receive targeted math, reading, and writing instruction based on their individual needs. For some scholars, Lab is an opportunity to extend learning and for others it is a time for scholars to receive additional support, particularly if they are struggling to meet a learning target.

Learning Expeditions
The major curriculum unit in EL schools. They are multi subject studies, usually lasting 6-12 weeks, led by a teacher or teaching team. Learning Expeditions are based on state standards and local curriculum maps and focus on what teachers determine to be essential content and skills. They use interesting case studies to make content come alive for scholars. They involve scholars in fieldwork (field research) and service learning and connect them with local experts.

Learning Targets
Goals or objectives for lessons written in concrete, scholar-friendly language. They are shared with scholars, posted in the classroom, and tracked carefully by scholars and teachers during the process of learning. Learning targets are most often written as “I can” statements. EX: “I can explain the lifecycle of a butterfly.”

Parent Teacher Group (PTG)
PTG is McAuliffe’s parent teacher group.  The McAuliffe Parent Teacher Group (PTG) exists with a primary purpose to provide parents/guardians with specific ways to support the mission of the Christa McAuliffe Charter School and all scholars’ learning and character development. Learn more on our PTG page.

Passage presentations are an EL Education core practice where scholars, using specific evidence and reflection, make the case for why they are ready to transition to high school. Passages are formal presentations that take place in front of a panel, comprised of an authentic audience.  

At McAuliffe, students complete their Passages presentation at the end of 8th grade. Because Habits of Work and Learning are critical to students’ success in school and career, HOWLS are used as the organizing principle for the presentation. Passages focus on growth: we know that a growth mindset is crucial to students’ success. Therefore, students use their Passages presentation to prove the basic claim, “My growth in HOWLS over the course of my time at McAuliffe shows that I am ready to go on to high school.” Students share their Passage Presentation before an audience that includes peers, at least one McAuliffe teacher who knows them well, and at least one adult who knows them less well or not at all.

A portfolio is a collection of work showing what a scholar has been thinking about, working on, and learning to do. It may contain written work, artwork, recordings of performances, photographs of three-dimensional constructions, and more. It can be used as a formative or summative assessment. A portfolio does not include all work; instead it is a selection made by the scholar with teacher help.


McAuliffe’s online gradebook. The best way to be informed of your child’s progress is by regularly visiting the Powerschool parent portal, Families and scholars will each have a unique username and a password One of our goals is to guide scholars to own their own learning so it is critical that they can log into Powerschool at anytime to see their progress in each class. PowerSchool is also accessible via a mobile app.

Progress Reports
You will receive three progress reports per year, one at the end of each trimester.

Projects and Products
Scholar products are the tangible results of the expedition’s learning and one of the ways scholars “show what they know” in EL schools. Formats include things like: scientific reports, field guides, blueprints, business plans, anthologies of writing, models, or instructional posters. Most products in EL schools are created for audiences beyond the classroom. Products are intended to increase motivation by engaging scholars in real work with authentic purpose, and they require scholars to apply key academic skills while thinking creatively and critically. Major EL projects are generally worked on in school, not as an out-of-school assignment, though they may involve homework.

Service Learning
Active participation in organized experiences that meet authentic community needs. Service learning provides scholars with opportunities to use their acquired skills and knowledge in real-life situations, extending scholar learning into the community and instilling an ethic of stewardship. Service learning is not simply charitable work; the learning (linked to expedition content) is just as important as the service.

SLC’s are Student Led Conferences and are held two times per year. These conferences are an opportunity for scholars to discuss their progress towards meeting academic and HOWLs learning targets with their families and crew leader.

Standards-Based Grading
McAuliffe is a standards-based grading school. This means that we measure scholars on their ability to meet specific standards set by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (starting in 2012, these standards are known as the Common Core). At McAuliffe, we communicate the standards through learning targets that are written in scholar-friendly language.  Learning targets are goals for lessons, projects, units and trimesters.

S.T.A.R. Awards
Special Thanks and Recognition awards are given to scholars who have exceeded expectations in displaying their commitment to one or more of the design principles and core values.  STAR awards are presented at School Meetings.

Student Led Conferences
Student Led Conferences (SLCs) are designed to replace regular parent conferences. They are meetings between a scholar and his/her parent(s)/guardian(s) about the scholar’s learning and growth. Scholars show their family her/his work (e.g. tests, writing samples, art work) - always accompanied by rubrics/scoring guides and sometimes accompanied by scholar reflections - and discuss what they have learned and where there is room for growth. Parents/guardians ask questions, make observations, and help scholars set goals for the next trimester or year.