For Educators

Hello fellow educator and welcome to Portal Peak. We are so glad you are here.

As educators, we know that there is so much more our students need to know and be able to do beyond the 3 R’s (Reading, Writing, ‘Rithmetic). In fact one of our favorite quotes at Portal Peak comes from Scott McLeod and Karl Fisch’s viral video “Did You Know” which says, “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist . . . using technologies that haven’t been invented . . . in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.”

We also know that in order to solve these problems students need to engage in the  4Cs – communicationcollaborationcritical thinking and creativity

As our nation and states strive to adapt to our changing world we have seen an increase focus on STEM and the coming of Next Generation Science Standards which have been or are soon to be adopted by 26 states. We have also seen the Common Core place a larger emphasis on nonfiction reading and paired texts, which help students develop and practice some of these most important higher order thinking skills. These new standards have also introduced the Standards of Mathematical Practice and the Standards of Science and Engineering Practices with are crucial skills for our learners to have when engaging in STEM problems.

As educators we know all this and yet we are faced with a very simple dilemma: time. How do we fit it all in?

Enter Portal Peak –

Each week you can give your students a chance to practice all these important 21st Century Skills through fun, engaging, and authentic investigations that take a little as 10 minutes a day.

Below you can find suggestions for implementation:

Whole Class – Grades 4-6

For using Portal Peak as a whole class we suggest a simple 5 day rollout:

Day 1: Watch the new Portal Video as a class (3-5 minutes). Then hold a quick class discussion (5 minutes) asking students to highlight important information in the video that might be helpful in solving the problem, and what information they might still need to know to solve the problem.

Day 2: Use the reading(s) or video(s) provided in the “Seeking the Peak” section to help students gain more information about the topic. This is a great way to bring digital read alouds into your weekly routine (10 minutes).

Day 3: With all the information in hand, give students an opportunity to suggest solutions. You can have students work in small groups and share out or have them work individually and then conduct a class discussion. If the class is “stuck” you can log on to the Portal to see if there are some ideas already posted (20-30 minutes).

Day 4:  The class should craft their “Reach the Peak” explanation, explaining in detail how they went about solving the problem. This can be done in text, Google slides, a video, a screencast, or anything else you can think of (30 minutes). Please note that if a student appears in any video you post, even of it is just their voice, you should have obtained parental consent. Please consult your district policies before posting. 

Day 5: Look at how others solved the problem and comment on similarities and differences between methods or ways of sharing (15 minutes).

Small Group-Grades 3-6

In small groups, the content will be accessible to many 3rd graders with the appropriate amount of scaffolding and could easily be used as a station in a Math Workshop model. A 3 day plan could be used in a small group.

Day 1: Watch the Portal video, read or watch the “Seeking the Peak” resource(s) and take stock of information (25 minutes).

Day 2: Brainstorm solutions and work them out as a group. Then create a “Reach the Peak” explanation. (30 minutes)

Day 3: Complete the “Reach the Peak” explanation and evaluate the reasoning of others  (30 minutes).

Individual- Grades 5-8

Older students will be able to engage in parts of the investigation more independently. You might assign the reading independently, or encourage more independently problem solving before coming back together as a group. You might have students craft their own “Reach the Peak” explanations instead of doing it in a group or as a whole class.


Of course, these suggestions are just that. We encourage you to use Portal Peak however you best see it work into your classroom. Use as many or as few components that work with your students and don’t be afraid to experiment!

We appreciate any feedback you have to give or ways you have implemented Portal Peak in your classroom. Drop us a line at