Lowell High School is increasing opportunities for students to receive rigorous instruction, in large part due to targeted professional development. A culture of shared professional learning has created a "How do we make this happen?" attitude and allowed staff to make quick adjustments to curriculum and building operations. Recently, GEAR UP educators from several schools had the opportunity to visit Lowell and learn more about their practices including:

Engagement Strategies in the Classroom

Lowell teachers participated in professional development workshops and observational visits with Dataworks to learn instructional and engagement techniques, including:

  • Writing objectives for the lesson on the board
  • Regularly calling on random students (not just those raising their hands), so that students get used to answering questions
  • Writing on personal white boards
  • Reviewing what was covered the day before
  • Bringing students back together with an audio cue (like ringing a bell)
  • Arranging desks in either rows or circles depending on the task
  • Desks that can be arranged either in rows or circles

Objectives   Math class


College-Level Courses

Students have access to Advanced Placement (AP) classes including Government, European and U.S. History, Statistics and Spanish Literature and Language. However, many teachers are AP-trained, even if the classes are not. At Lowell, every student has the opportunity to acquire the critical thinking skills that AP classes demand according to their ability.


This class allowed me to know what to expect in college without the extra stress of worrying about the cost.

In addition, students can earn college credits in high school with College Now courses, from Computer Science to Drafting. The most recent addition of a Health Sciences career pathway program started with a "Teacher to Teacher" training program that provided a curriculum aligned to Lane Community College's courses as well as materials. A dedicated teacher completed 2,000 hours in health science teaching in order to qualify the program for Career and Technical Education (CTE) status as well.


Writing Across the Curriculum

After seeing alarmingly scores in state standardized test scores in 2013, Lowell High School revamped their efforts to teach writing in all subjects through peer-led professional development. Five years later, the staff are still dedicated to aligning their writing expectations for students even as scores have jumped to meet or exceed the state average. Key practices include:

  • Increasing the number of times students do writing in all classes
  • Make writing a public task
  • Use common vocabulary about writing

The educators who visited Lowell were impressed, summed up by one participant: "What a great school atmosphere! Thank you for sharing your school with us."