Mountain Brook Junior High – Paul Hnizdil, Matt Howard, Tami Genry
“We can’t just teach our children what we already know; we must also train them how to discover what is not yet known,” John Hunter, developer of the World Peace Game. As trained facilitators of the WPG, we have seen the impact of this experience on our students and believe it is important to grow as facilitators as well as increase the number of facilitators in our building. In doing so, we can improve our effectiveness, deepen our understanding, and reach more students with this interactive learning experience, fostering the engagement of knowledge, creativity, and wisdom in students within an environment that requires them to apply strategies of innovation, critical and creative thinking, intuitive collaboration, and problem solving. By questioning and guiding students along a path to the ultimate outcome of the experience we provide space for students to build structures and relationships that lead to compassion, empathy, and deeper connections to their content. As a district, we value and expect effective, challenging, and engaging education, and this experience epitomizes this purpose.
Crestline Elementary – Heather Phillips and Katie Meyerpeter
The Collaboratory will be an inspired teaching and learning environment where students will be immersed in the design thinking process through a series of fully equipped, reconfigurable zones. By engaging in real-world problems and creating real-world solutions in the zones, all students will deepen their levels of understanding new concepts and will further develop skills such as effective communication, collaboration, research, critical and creative thinking, and metacognition, all hallmarks of project-based learning. Mountain Brook City School’s philosophy is to provide an effective, challenging and engaging education for every one of its students, and The Collaboratory will emphasize this mission by encouraging innovation in a space with opportunities to turn abstract concepts into tangible learning experiences. It will lessen the learning practice tendency to fragment much of what we learn. For instance, robotics should not be taught in seclusion; it should be part of an overall concept with a defined learning goal that crosses disciplines. The same thinking goes for math, reading, and writing. The Collaboratory will provide the proper learning environment and materials to help students make sense of what they learn. Ultimately, The Collaboratory can be used by all students with the goal of being a model classroom that exemplifies the future direction of education. Since the materials purchased will be durable and sustainable, the number of students ultimately impacted will be immense.
Cherokee Bend Elementary – Hannah Umphrey, Emily Griner, Leah Saab, Betsy Draper, Alexandra Andrews, Heather Brown
Experimental education has been in play since the beginning of time. Imagine what would happen if we were to allow every child to experience wonder and a sense of discovery as they dig into the earth and discover a worm, a bug, or the roots of a plant. The delight on their faces reflect the joy of learning as they discover a flower in bloom or a bud of a vegetable they planted themselves. Cultivating our school garden will foster engagement, collaboration, and cross grade level relationships among students.
We believe that providing students with time to interact with nature, experience learning in an outdoor setting ,and the chance to experience the process of farm to table will benefit every aspect of the whole child, which in turn, would help create lifelong learners. It will help students build self-confidence, learn to cooperate with one another, and broaden the impact of the FOAC curriculum that is already in place at CBS.
Brookwood Forest Elementary – Tara Smith, Tanishia Sims, Perry Wright, Katie Seeger, Jennifer Jinnette, Stephanie Cook
The Classroom of our dreams starts with one big idea - kids first. A classroom where student voice and cooperative play are essential for students to feel invested in their own learning and can ignite passions that will increase their persistence.Through play, children develop the skills they need to expand their physical, emotional, social, and cognitive abilities. Cooperative play is naturally how young children learn. Based on the research of Wendy Suzuki play is the most transformative thing that a child can do for his/her brain. The brain is like a muscle and play strengthens both the prefrontal cortex (which is involved in executive functioning) and the hippocampus (which plays a key role in memory and learning). It is not a luxury but a necessity. Combine student voice with purposeful play and you will see a classroom that the world would want to live in.