Skip to the main content
Your browser is out of date! Update your browser to view this website correctly
Update my browser
Spaces home
EN Decorative Icon

Students will create and test a parachute based on their understanding of air resistance in this engineering activity. This lesson is designed for students in grades 6-8, but could be adapted for other age groups.

As we start to see a shift in education and classroom culture, we begin to see the focus shift to student growth and the importance of student participation using theories such as Competency-Based Education. With this change from traditional education, we see a shift towards differentiated instruction and assessment. What we are starting to see and what matters the most is equipping students with 21st-century skills and future-ready skills to become well-rounded adults ready to tackle their next steps after graduation and into their careers.

What is Competency-Based Education and Why Does it Matter?

Competency-based education focuses on an individual’s competency, promoting a learner-centric approach where students progress after demonstrating mastery of certain skills. Using competency-based education, students can learn at their own pace through multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning. 

Through competency-based education and competency-based assessment, educators can help students build the skills necessary to reach post-secondary and career goals with a greater understanding of self and their own personal learning processes. Removing the stress of “failing” or “passing,” shifts the focus back to learning, while allowing students the confidence to make mistakes. As students build this confidence in the classroom, they start to feel empowered when mastering skills and more engaged in long-term growth and learning.

Tracking Core Competencies Using Curriculum Tags

SpacesEDU enables competency-based education through many of our features. Our most useful feature to support competency-based education is our Curriculum Tags. Teachers or Administrators can upload or create a set of core competencies within their SpacesEDU account. Once core competencies are added to the SpacesEDU account, teachers can correlate the educational content (Posts or Activities) with the competencies using Curriculum Tags.

As students work through their classes and complete their assignments, they will be able to visually see their growth and progress towards a specific core competency. This helps students recognize the competencies that they have acquired and all of the competencies that have contributed to achieving mastery in a certain subject.

Provide built-in formative assessments and feedback

As students work their way through assignments and activities within SpacesEDU, they’ll receive immediate feedback along the way. Students can receive feedback from teachers as well as families. This consistent feedback students receive from these formative assessments will help students improve their knowledge base so that they can continue to grow and apply that knowledge to future assignments and projects.

Students curate learning inside and outside the classroom

Competency-based education is flexible with students being able to demonstrate their knowledge and mastery, whenever and wherever it takes place. This enables students to take ownership of their learning and showcase the growth and work they feel most proud of. As students become curators, they are empowered to make their own learning decisions, applying and demonstrating their learning in their own personalized way.

Conclusion: Put competency-based education into action

Competency-based education helps students to develop and demonstrate mastery of a topic and prepares students for life beyond the classroom. The competency-based education model is one that holds a lot of promise for helping both educators and students create pathways for continual learning.

To better understand how to implement competency-based practices into your SpacesEDU classroom, learn from one of our Portfolio Experts by registering for an upcoming webinar, below.

Please select a valid form.

As educators, one of our key responsibilities is to teach our subject-area content and ensure that students leave our course with an understanding of the associated standards.

While it may seem simple at first glance, we know it’s anything but.

With the number of standards we are expected to cover and students are expected to learn, not to mention ensuring that we are providing a whole-child approach to education, communicating with parents, and overseeing extra-curriculars, it can be challenging to keep track of student growth and mastery.

Enter Curriculum Tags.

Curriculum Tags, or standards tags, are designed to help you easily track student progress towards meeting your course standards.

Curriculum Tags allow you to :

Read on to see how Curriculum Tags can be used to keep track of student growth and learning through everyday activities.

How Curriculum Tags support everyday activities and assessments

Take a middle school science class, for example. Perhaps students are in the midst of a unit on cell biology. Each day, you may want to have students show evidence of their learning through creating a reflection post or completing an activity in their Class or Individual Space.

After students have added evidence of their learning, simply go through their posts and tag them with the standards they meet.

As you go through student work to add feedback and apply Curriculum Tags, you can easily see which students are progressing well and which students may need more support in order to demonstrate mastery, ensuring that all students succeed.

How to use Curriculum Tags in SpacesEDU

Follow these three simple steps to get started with Curriculum Tags:

  1. Add your course Curriculum Tag sets to your class Don’t see your standards? Learn how to add them.
  2. Set your curriculum goals to match what your students are learning in class
  3. Apply tags to student posts to begin tracking student growth and mastery

Not sure how to get started with Curriculum Tags? Watch the video below!

As the world continues to change at a rapid pace so do the skills required for new students entering the workforce.

In the first season of our podcast, Competencies without a Classroom, we interviewed hiring managers, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and experts from a variety of industries to learn the skills they value when building out their 21st-century teams.

We've compiled all of the podcast episodes and turned them into activities for your students, complete with a teacher guide and slideshow presentation.

Whether your students are just beginning their educational journey or are ready to dive into the workforce, the skills and tips shared by the season one podcast guests will help your students learn:

Click on the resources below to use them with your students.

Teacher Guide

The teacher guide outlines each of the 21 lessons in the package and includes:

Competencies without a Classroom Podcast - Season One - Teacher Guide

Access the Teacher Guide

Slideshow Presentation

We’ve created Google Slides for each lesson plan in the package. Use the slides together as a class, or share them with students and have them complete the lessons independently.

Competencies without a Classroom Podcast - Season One - Slideshow Presentation

Access the Slideshow Presentation

Student Handouts

Prefer docs to slides? This Google Docs package includes handouts for each lesson plan below. Just hand out/share the Google Doc associated with a particular lesson plan, or upload the full package to your online learning platform to have students work at their own pace.

Competencies without a Classroom Podcast - Season One - Student Handouts

Access the Student Handouts

A new school year means another opportunity to get to know a new group of students.

Start the school year off right by creating meaningful connections through this ice breaker activity that your students (and you) will love!

Want a walkthrough of Activities before creating your own? Watch the video below.

Icebreaker activity: Show & Tell

Get to know your students and help create meaningful connections between students by having them share an object of significance and explaining what it represents.

Show & Tell is designed to:

Begin by creating the activity in your SpacesEDU account using the copy-and-paste instructions below.

Note: we recommend adding a video or photo and audio recording of you sharing your own show and tell example. This provides students with an idea of what to expect while also breaking the ice and making them feel more comfortable sharing their own objects.

Once you’ve assigned the activity to your students, it’s time for them to complete it!

Review student submissions, adding any feedback you like, and then release the completed submissions by marking the activity as complete. Now students will be able to see each other’s show and tell examples, ask questions, and begin building those connections.

Activity instructions to copy and paste

Title: Show & Tell

Space: Class


Part of creating a community of learning is getting to know each other and building meaningful connections with your learning partners. We'll be doing this through our very own show and tell!

1. Listen to my example and learn what object is significant to me.

2. Find an item that has meaning to you (this could be something related to a hobby, your family/friends, a special memory or vacation - the sky is the limit!)

3. Explain why this object is significant to you. (Record a video of you showing the object and explaining its significance, or take a photo and upload it along with an audio recording or written explanation)

4. Once I've released everyone's show and tell submissions, comment on your classmates' posts to share:

Media Attachments: a video or photo + audio recording of you sharing your object and what it means to you

Did you like this ready-to-use activity?

We’ve got six more icebreakers to help you get to know your students and begin creating your class community. Check them out here and here!

Do you have a go-to icebreaker activity that you use with your students? Tweet us @spaces_edu to share!

Those first few days of a new school year or semester can be filled with mixed emotions for educators and students alike. However, these first few days are also arguably the most important. They help set the tone for what’s to come and are vital in building relationships and creating a classroom atmosphere that invites learning.

Here are five activities that your students are sure to love, which will:

Read on for five copy and paste activities that you can use with your students.

Not sure how to create an activity in SpacesEDU? Learn how.

Activity #1: Creating a Classroom Community

Creating an inclusive and inviting classroom environment is the first step in setting students up for success in a new school year/semester.

This activity has students take part in co-creating classroom community pillars to guide and shape the learning environment, by sharing what they believe makes a safe learning space.

Just copy and paste the instructions below and assign the activity to your students! (Note: we recommend adding both audio and written instructions)

Once students have completed the activity, review student submissions and make note of the common themes that emerge.

Post the top themes that emerge in your Class Space, and have students vote on the three they feel are the most important. These three items then become your classroom community pillars and act as a learning contract for all class members!

Activity instructions to copy and paste

Title: Creating a Classroom Community

Space: Individual

As a class, we will co-create our classroom community pillars. These are the things that will guide us throughout our time together and ensure we are all contributing to a positive, safe, and inclusive learning environment.

Choose the format of your choice (video recording, audio recording, or written text).

Please share:
1. What a positive and safe learning environment means to you
2. Three things that need to happen for you to feel part of a classroom community
3. How you can contribute to creating a positive and safe class community

Activity #2: Name Game

Has your name ever been pronounced incorrectly? Or maybe you’ve mispronounced someone else’s name in the past?

Sometimes it can be uncomfortable to correct people when they get our name wrong. The Name Game helps avoid this while helping your students feel valued and respected.

This quick activity has students record themselves saying their own name and then share any other relevant information related to their name, such as a preferred name or nickname.

Review the submissions and leave audio feedback, saying their name and sharing something about your own.

This activity can be assigned to either a student’s Individual Space (private to you and that student) or the Class Space. By assigning it to the Class Space, once you release the completed activity, all students will be able to hear how others pronounce their own names. However, if more sensitive information will be shared, you may wish to assign it to the Individual Space.

Activity instructions to copy and paste

Title: Name Game

Space: Class

Let's kick off the school year on the right foot.

1. Use the audio recording tool to share how your name is pronounced
2. Add anything else I should be aware of (ex. if you have a nickname or a shortened version of your name that you prefer I use)
3. Is there a unique or interesting story behind your name? Feel free to share it!

Activity #3: Breaking the Ice

For some students, it can be daunting when faced with a class full of new faces. Ease the anxiety and help create a class community with this activity.

Break the ice has students get to know a classmate better by interviewing them and reflecting on what they found out.

Copy and paste the instructions below and assign the activity to your class. After assigning it, split the class into pairs and have them interview each other using the format of their choice. After students have submitted their interview and reflection, review and release the submissions so that all students in the class can get to know one another better!

Activity instructions to copy and paste

Title: Breaking the Ice

Space: Class


You've been assigned a classmate to get to know better!

1. Interview your classmate using the prompts provided below (you can record the interview in written or audio form)

2. Upload your interview as part of this activity.

3. Explain what you learned about your classmate

Activity #4: A Letter to Your Teacher

Looking to get to know your students better and begin laying the foundation for a successful school year?

This activity, designed for the Individual Space, has students write you a letter outlining their hopes and fears for the school year, how they prefer to learn, and what they value in a teacher and in a learning environment.

Copy and paste the instructions below and assign the activity to your students. After students have submitted their letters, respond with a letter of your own!

Activity instructions to copy and paste

Title: A Letter to Your Teacher

Space: Individual


To help me get to know you a bit better, please write a brief letter (or record a video) sharing the following:

Activity #5: Ready, Set, Goal!

Help set your students up for success right from the start of the new school year/semester by having them set a SMART goal with an action plan to achieve it.

If your students are not familiar with setting SMART goals, you may wish to have a discussion about them prior to assigning this activity.

Simply, copy and paste the instructions below and assign the activity to your students.

Optional: include the URL below to give your students examples of SMART goals

Activity instructions to copy and paste

Title: Ready, Set, Goal!

Space: Individual


Set yourself up for success this school year by creating a SMART goal for yourself, along with an action plan (3-5 steps you will take to meet your goal).

Consider: what do you want to achieve in this course or, more broadly, this school year?

SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based. See below and the link provided for examples of SMART goals.

Not a SMART Goal: I want to participate more.

SMART GOAL: By November 1, 2021, I will have raised my hand in class at least three times a week to answer questions and improve my overall participation.

Media Attachments:

Bonus Activity

Looking for a fun and engaging ice breaker activity for students?

Read: Break the Ice in the New School Year with This Activity!

Do you have a fun activity that you use with students at the start of a new school year or semester? Tweet us @spaces_edu to share!

What’s your favorite form of potato? What’s a hobby you’ve picked up in the last few months? What song describes your life right now?

Whether you’re teaching in an online environment or in person, the start of a new school year means it’s time to get to know your students, break down walls to build relationships, and set them up for success in the coming weeks and months.

There’s no easier way to start doing this than by introducing a fun icebreaker activity to help your class get to know one another and begin creating a class community.

Read on for a simple activity to break the ice this school year.

Fun ✔
Easy ✔
Effective ✔

Icebreaker activity: Two Truths and a Lie

Get to know your students a bit better through this quick and easy icebreaker activity!

Two Truths and a Lie asks students to come up with two truths about themselves as well as one lie. The lie should be one that is plausible and the truths hard to believe (if possible).

This activity is designed to:

You’ll begin by creating the activity in your SpacesEDU teacher account using the instructions below (or watch the video for a complete walkthrough of Acitvities!)

Once you’ve assigned it to students, they can complete it in the format of their choice (an audio recording, video recording, text entry, etc.).

Review the completed activity submissions and make your guess on each. Once you’ve reviewed and marked the activity as complete, comes the fun part…

Have students comment on each other’s activity posts with their guesses. Afterwards, the students can share which of their three items was the lie!

Not sure how to enable student comments? Learn how.

How to create this activity in SpacesEDU

  1. In your SpacesEDU account, Click +Create (bottom right corner) and choose Activity
  2. In your Activity Portal, click New Activity
  3. Choose your Class
  4. Choose your Space (Class space in this case)
  5. Copy and paste the Title and Instructions below
  6. Choose a Start Date and End Date if desired
  7. Click Assign (top right corner)

Activity instructions to copy and paste

Title: Ice Breaker: Two Truths and a Lie

Space: Class


Let's break the ice and get to know each other better.

1. Record two truths and a lie about yourself (your choice of format).
2. Once everyone has completed the activity, I will make my guess on what the lie is.
3. After the completed activity has been released to you, post your guesses on your classmates' posts
4. Share the correct answer on your activity post!

Have another class you’d like to assign the activity to? No problem!

  1. Head to your Activities tab
  2. Find the activity you’d like to assign
  3. Click the three dots to the right and then Copy Activity
  4. Choose your Class, Space, and make any modifications you’d like
  5. Click Assign

Do you have a fun icebreaker activity that you use with students? Tweet us @spaces_edu to share!

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram