Sunday, March 16, 2008

Design Destination Schools


Design Destination Schools are places where teachers love to work and students love to learn. They are rigorous, innovative, collaborative, dynamic, playful and fun. They are schools so physically and educationally inviting that people go out of their way to visit them and students find them more interesting than other alternatives for spending their time during the day. Design Destination Schools are a combination of K-12 Learning Centers, Professional Development Centers, Research Centers and Destinations for Public Engagement.

They are Constructivist Schools where students create meaning through the work they do and their interactions with each other. 

They are Project-Based Learning Schools where students do real-life hands-on work that is meaningful, relevant and authentic to the environment in which they would be used. 

They are Problem-Based Learning Schools were the learners' intellectual and practical goals are central in choosing what is learned. 

They are Design-Thinking Schools where students learn and apply the methods of creative and innovative problem-solving.

They are Interactive Learning Environments that appear to be more like children's museums and exploration laboratories. The school looks quite a bit like a museum with interactive exhibits throughout.

They are Collaborative Community Spaces where volunteers from businesses and the community come in to donate an hour here and there to provide students special adult attention.

They are rigorous and high achieving. Students are amazed that they learn more than they thought they could learn and enjoy working harder than they ever thought they could without even noticing.

They are School 2.0 Centers where students and teachers use technology in meaningful and appropriate ways to connect to the world. Students and teachers use social networking, distance learning, and media-oriented communication styles. A class presentation might also be a live TV or Internet broadcast being viewed by a class somewhere else in the world or being taped for distribution on YouTube.

They are Transparent Schools in which the classes, curriculum, assessments, management, and other operations of the school are visible and open to all. The principal's office door is open so teachers and students feel comfortable just hanging out there on occasion.

They are cost-effective schools because there is less vandalism, absenteeism, apathy, and remediation because of a higher level of student motivation and engagement causing students and teachers to have more ownership in their learning and environment. There are fewer expensive middle-management staff because of reduced disciplinary needs and fewer costly intervention programs, and an increase in volunteerism and fiscal support from businesses.

They have flattened hierarchies were ideas and decisions do not necessarily flow in a top-down direction but good ideas come from anyone in the school and decisions are made collectively. 

They are design centers where images, objects, and spaces are used to communicate information and ideas and to stimulate the imagination. They look a bit like a theme park, a TV studio or movie set - semi-permanent and flexible.

They have flattened hierarchies were ideas and decisions do not necessarily flow in a top-down direction but good ideas come from anyone in the school and decisions are made collectively. 

They are design centers where images, objects, and spaces are used to communicate information and ideas and to stimulate the imagination. They look a bit like a theme park, a TV studio or movie set - semi-permanent and flexible.

They are empowerment schools where the teachers and students feel they are responsible for the school and part "owners" because they aren't treated like "renters" just passing through.

Students work in collaborative groups, are actively engaged and free to move about, have some measure of learner choice and voice in curriculum, and engaged in high-interest activities that are based in personal relevance and autonomy. Design Destination Schools have high standards and expectations that use contextualized alternative assessments such as portfolios, projects, demonstrations, presentations, exhibits and assessment rubrics.

Design Destination Schools also provide job-embedded professional development for teachers that encourages collaboration with colleagues and self-reflection that helps them develop their practical skills and supports teacher learning. Teachers create the kind of environments where they and their students love to be.

Design Destination Schools are located in existing structures, new facilities, or remodeled buildings but they look more like interactive learning labs much like children's museums and innovation centers more than traditional schools. In Design Destination Schools the buildings, rooms and halls are part of the teaching methods and learning environment. Many parts of the school double as sets for TV and film interviews and productions.

Design Destination Schools are public destinations where community members, researchers, and educators from around the world travel to see innovative practices and rigorous, high-expectation learning in action.

Design Destination Schools are research centers where new knowledge and methods of learning are created. Students and teachers are creating new ideas and new ways to learn - educational videos, educational toys, games, publications, blogs, websites, and interactive exhibits.

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