New Edwards school will use ’21st century learning’ | VailDaily.com
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New Edwards school will use ’21st century learning’

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado

EDWARDS, Colorado ” Learning through technology will become a big part of June Creek Elementary, the new school opening in Edwards this fall.

June Creek, which is being built next door to Berry Creek Middle School and Eagle County Charter Academy, will pilot a program for so called “21st Century Learning,” said John Kuglin, director of technology for the district.

Like all schools in the district, June Creek will have lots of computers, high speed Internet, LCD monitors in the classrooms and a “smart board” in the computer lab. At June Creek though, many of the computers that would normally be placed in large computer labs will be in the classrooms.

The idea is to have technology used by the children in all facets of learning, so students can immediately apply what they learn in class to “real life” applications, Kuglin said.

The district is partnering with Learning.com, which has an extensive kindergarten through eighth-grade computer curriculum that teachers can easily match with reading, writing, science, social studies and math lessons being taught in class.

Right after a lesson is taught, a teacher can put students on a computer, where they can learn a skill as well as reinforce their lesson.

“In kindergarten, when they’re teaching the letter A, holding up the letter and reading it, the teacher could then cycle the kids to the computer, where they have headsets, and they would start keyboarding at that level,” Kuglin said.

For older students, who may be learning order of operations in math class, they could use what they learn to create formulas on spreadsheets, Kuglin said.

“They’re taking the knowledge and directly applying it to the real world ” how do I set up a simple formula?” Kuglin said.

This isn’t just learning “technology” Kuglin says ” these skills really are necessary to be successful in the 21st century. It’s becoming more important not just for students to know math and science and writing ” but they have to know how to present information in innovative and helpful ways.

June Creek could also become the pilot school for a few other programs ” if parents want to give it a shot.

Because the school is new and without a set program other than the basic school district curriculum, it will be much easier for the staff to try something different ” like becoming a science or arts magnet, said Heather Eberts, the district’s director of elementary education.

“When a school has already been set up for some time, it’s more difficult and takes a long time to set up new programming and try different things,” Eberts said. “When you hire teachers to come into a new building, they know it brings challenges, and a lot of opportunity. For those teachers with innovative ideas, they can grow those ideas.”

What exactly those things should be ” if anything ” has not been yet.

School leaders will be meeting with parents and community members April 2 to discuss how students at June Creek Elementary will learn. What the parents need to figure out is if they want the school to have a particular focus ” like science or fine arts.

Magnet schools teach all the standards required by the school district ” they would just do it a different way. A science magnet for instance would use experiments and scientific concepts to teach the district curriculum.

It’s also possible the school could become a part of the International Baccalaureate program, which is what Eagle Valley Elementary is doing.

The technology at the school could easily be adapted to match any of the magnet programs, Eberts said.

The school district has always shown a drive to try different programs. Minturn Middle School, Red Canyon High School are both Expeditionary Learning schools, which means their curriculum revolves around lengthy, in-depth, hands-on studies on sweeping topics like immigration. Meadow Mountain Elementary is in the process of becoming an expeditionary school.

Edwards Elementary, Avon Elementary and Berry Creek Middle School are each dual-language schools, which means they’re teaching the students in both English and Spanish, which will hopefully get them bilingual. Battle Mountain High School is looking to add a dual-language curriculum.

This doesn’t mean that though June Creek has to try something new ” schools like Brush Creek Elementary and Red Sandstone don’t have a particular “programs” ” but still do a wonderful job of teaching students and perform quite well, Eberts said.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.


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