Tagged “21st Century Skills”

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Middle Grades

Bringing STEM Home to Forge Community Bonds

Vanguard Preparatory School, Apple Valley, Calif.

Recently named a California School to Watch by whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, Vanguard Preparatory School is facing the achievement gap head on. Located in Apple Valley, a rural town in California, Vanguard’s focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects has made it a standout in the area. Vanguard runs family STEM nights to further strengthen the connection between the classroom setting and the family support network.

Meeting the Needs of a Diverse Student Body

Coombabah State High School, Coombabah, Queensland, Australia

Coombabah State High School was established in 1986 as the community high school for the northern suburbs of the Gold Coast, serving students from a diverse range of socioeconomic backgrounds. The student population has a high degree of mobility and this transient factor contributes to the increasing challenge for teachers to provide challenging and meaningful learning opportunities—at least 30 per cent of the student body is new to the school each year. The school offers many vocational education subjects ranging from hospitality, business, child care, multimedia, and health, to community and recreation. Students can also select from a vast range of academic subjects.

Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, Coombabah State High School has been able to develop a supportive environment for all students and staff. For example, all year 8 teachers meet with student support teams, the head of the middle school, and outside personnel, including a mental health expert to identify at-risk students. Teachers are trained to quickly identify students who they feel are experiencing difficulties in the classroom in relation to coping skills, content, and social issues. The students are then interviewed and individual programs are developed to assist in the areas of concern.

Student Voice and Project-Based Learning

Malcolm Price Laboratory School, Cedar Falls, Iowa

The 2010 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award winner, Malcolm Price Laboratory School, in Cedar Falls, Iowa, has a long-standing tradition of focusing on the whole child. Price Lab believes that its community is not so much a place as an experience of feeling valued, connected, and responsible.

Among other efforts, the K–12 school actively seeks to engage students through programs that support project-based learning. Students in elementary, middle, and high school devise or choose projects of personal interest—examples include hosting a radio show, investigating string theory, producing a film production, and developing a game. The students then see these projects through from conception to completion.

This student-centered approach has been fundamental in developing important 21st century skills, such as demonstrating initiative and self-direction, and using individual talents for productive outcomes. It has also allowed students to have a greater voice and develop a greater sense of ownership in the school and its activities.

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