Give Me Five Gets A New Look, New Name, and New Expertise

It’s a new year and a new chance for us to help shape the future. My…

By Edward Montalvo

It’s a new year and a new chance for us to help shape the future. My name is Edward Montalvo, the new Senior Education Writer at the XQ Institute. As a former Dean and ELA teacher at PSI High, an XQ Super School in Sanford, Florida, I have seen the great work that comes from XQ firsthand.

Over the past four years, I have been fortunate enough to collaborate with XQ, connect with educators across the country, and do the groundwork of transforming the high school experience.

I’m very excited to be taking up the mantle that is the Give Me Five Series. It is my ambition to bring you more of the content and resources that will support you in the classroom, instruction, and education leadership.

As such, we’ve decided to update some things. With new expertise, we decided to rebrand Give Me Five into The XQ Xtra: A Resource for Improving High School Education. The newsletter will continue what you’ve loved about Give Me 5 with a narrative of resources, ideas, and stories of high school redesign.

Whether you’re an educator in the schools, a district leader, an education advocate or a community organizer, The ReThink Newsletter will provide you with valued information and insight to support you in redesigning the high school experience.

Moreover, I want to hear from you, the education community. We at XQ want to amplify and feature your voices and your ideas, as we all strive collectively to rethink high school, together.

Before we get into the thick of it, please allow me a moment to introduce myself by sharing with you the who, what, and how I’ve taught:

On a field trip with my PSI High Sophomores to the Orlando Regional History Center. It took weeks to plan, and only seconds for them to point, laugh, and call me a nerd for getting excited about a tree.

Who I’ve Taught:

Although my experience pales in comparison to that of some of my mentors, I have been fortunate enough to instruct hundreds of students over the past seven years. I’ve taught the entire gamut of Secondary ELA–all grade levels between 6-12. I started with 8th-grade intensive reading, and have instructed all levels of proficiency, skill, and fluency. Personally, the sixth graders always seemed the most excited to learn, but I was most excited to watch our seniors make that graduation leap.

What I’ve Taught:

I’m big on graphic novels and environmental justice. In ELA, visual rhetoric and spatial storytelling got my students pumped. They love this planet, and we loved learning more about how to heal it. From Maus to March, ecosystems to entrepreneurs, memes to poetry–I started with what my students would connect with, then evolved from there. I’ve always emphasized rhetoric and creative writing as the gateways to collaboration. 

How I’ve Taught:

My background is in project-based learning, designing and implementing authentic learning experiences that tie students into their community. I know PBL can be overwhelming–it’s messy but 100% worth it. I believe in being student-centered, with lessons that give students meaning and authenticity. As educators, we know that our students learn best when they can clearly articulate purpose, agency, and voice from their learning. In The ReThink Newsletter, I want to highlight the teachers, resources, and stories that show us how to empower students.

Who Taught Me:

I’ve observed dozens of teachers, listened to hundreds of thinkers (much like all of you), and have seen countless educators share their ideas about how they’re making learning better. I’ve learned so much from the students about how I can make my classroom better for them. While many great minds stand out, I recognize that I stand on the shoulders of giants—a central mindset at XQ.

What’s Next?

We want to hear from you. From our veteran teachers, what are you doing in the class to support your students? How have things been working out, especially as we recover from the disruptions of the COVID-19 Pandemic?

From our newer teachers, what are you aspiring to accomplish? What resources have you found that empower you to make a difference?

From our audience of administrators and district leaders, what are the projects and programs you are building to make our high schools stronger?

From everyone else, what are you thoughts, your stories, your ideas?  Let us know.

Let’s ReThink, Together.


📬[email protected] 🐦 Twitter: @xqamerica 

Share with us on social using #ReThinkHighSchool

Additional Resources

With your coffee: “Equity in the High School Classroom: A Teacher’s Guide” by Anna Sudderth

When establishing a classroom culture, consider starting from a place of equity in mind. See what Anna posits about equity-based practices.

For your PLC: “What is a strong mission and culture?” by Sean McClung

What about your school’s culture? Sean provides insight into how school teams can promote a vital mission and culture school-wide. What aspects could help your team support student learning?