A spry approach to designing school

Edutopia and the George Lucas Education Foundation have put together a rich collection of resources about rethinking the way we use time in school and in K-12 education. It’s all highlighted on their New Day for Learning page, which supports the conclusions and recommendations of the January 2007 report from the Time, Learning, and Afterschool Task Force organized and funded by the Mott Foundation. One conclusion of the report: “”The structure of the day for American children and youth is more than timeworn. It is obsolete.”

The Edutopia collection includes multimedia stories about “learning around the clock,” community collaboration before and after school, and “real world” learning that may take students into company workplaces or the deep woods. There’s plenty of evidence that at least some schools and community programs are attending to 21st Century skills and looking beyond the narrow curriculum demands of No Child Left Behind.

In a recent e-newsletter, GLEF highlighted an  eight-minute video on the Edutopia website, documenting the successes of Spry Community School, a PK-12 learning community in the Chicago public school system, “where primary school classes start at 9 A.M., high school runs from 11 A.M. to 7 P.M., and rising test scores and a nearly perfect graduation rate are available anytime.” High school and primary school students together? Why not? Check out the documentary to see how some high schoolers in this heavily bi-lingual community are teaching and tutoring the little ones!

Spry’s story is not just about a creative schedule. It’s also a school that models the community collaboration and real-world learning mentioned above. The video includes interviews and details teachers and other school leaders will appreciate.

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