Teacher Spotlight: Kyle Hoffman

Quest Forward High Schools (QFHS) use Opportunity Education’s Quest Forward Learning method and tools to empower teachers with resources that encourage students to engage deeply in their learning and take ownership of their growth and success. As a social science teacher at QFHS in Santa Rosa, CA, Kyle Hoffman uses active learning strategies to engage students in their lessons. Check out our conversation below and discover a few of the ways Kyle uses active learning to foster student agency.

Rachel: This is your first year at QFHS. Did anything surprise you?

Kyle: QFHS has a non-traditional approach that incorporates strategies like flexible pacing and student choice. It was a transition for me, but what I love about QFHS is that the students truly want to be here. They are energized and driven to learn.

Rachel: Tell us about a time you gave students choices about what or how they learned in your class.

Kyle: My seniors and I designed an inquiry project together from the ground up. I scaffolded it to make it accessible and created milestones along the way. They could choose any topic for the project, so it was driven by student interest. One student, who volunteers at an airport, studied aviation laws. Another chose hunting laws and how introducing wolves affected wildlife. And another student toured local farms to research animal welfare and determine whether companies are operating within the law. Their learning was relevant to them and applicable to the real world. At the end of the project, students could see that their work had an impact. They shared their learnings in the form of presentations, art projects, and video and traditional essays. Due to the variety of final products, I created three different rubrics for feedback.

Rachel: How are you providing choice to younger students?

Kyle: I offer the same content to younger students, but with the differentiation of format, process, and product. To do that, I like to use student choice menus so they have a variety of options. One option could be creating a mixed media project that combines art and writing to demonstrate their learning. These projects are popular with students and typically take the form of comics, zines, or posters.

Rachel: What does active learning mean for you, in your classroom?

Kyle: Active learning means that students are fully engaged and take ownership of their learning. Because they are working individually, it’s important to check in with students regularly. Sometimes students find it difficult to articulate their feelings and express themselves. I use emotional check-in cards, so they can share if they are feeling low, happy, or in need of a break. These cards help students label, understand, and communicate their feelings so I can adjust my speed and level of support accordingly. It also helps that we form strong relationships with students and know them as individuals. I value and respect their feedback and have alternative assignments available if something isn’t working and students just aren’t engaging.






Rachel: What are a few of your favorite OE tools and resources and why?

Kyle: I enjoy Scaffolding Socrates because it supports me as an educator and allows me to focus on content and delivery. Spending less time crafting resources allows me to spend more time actively supporting and engaging my students. Socratic seminars can be daunting to plan and lead. This resource helps ensure the assignment is a success. I also enjoy Student Choice Menus and Student Choice Boards because I can recycle assignments and projects without worrying that they are getting “stale” or repetitive for the students.

Rachel: What accomplishment are you the most proud of so far this school year? 

Kyle: I enjoy seeing my students grow. During their time at QFHS, they develop the skills to regulate their emotions, communicate effectively with adults, and advocate for themselves. Our students learn to hold themselves accountable for their work and their success, and they enjoy challenging themselves by tackling large-scale projects. Helping them through this process of personal growth is incredibly fulfilling.


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