At first glance, Piedmont City Schools in rural Alabama and New York City’s Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School may not appear to have much in common. The former is a rural district working to bring its students into the 21st century in the Deep South; the other, a brand new charter school in the heart of New York City. Their student populations differ greatly. Each of the schools face varying economic, cultural and technological challenges, and the models that educators are implementing do not exactly overlap.
What do these K-12 schools do have in common? Both are NGLC grantees in the planning phase of breakthrough models for college readiness. Both are actively using technology and innovative pedagogy to break down barriers, preparing diverse student bodies for brighter futures.
High engagement + high expectations
The Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School (LAB) is a start-up school devised by two creative, committed educators whose academic experience and technological prowess position LAB as a new school to watch. When its doors open this fall, the LAB’s inaugural student cohort will experience innovative learning design that combines personalized, self-paced learning with playlists on a customized user interface. LAB’s founders are developing a platform that could potentially be shared with other NGLC grantees – an exciting prospect for any forward-thinking college preparatory school. Check out Getting Smart’s blog post “Joy and Rigor: the And-Both Solution” to find out more about LAB’s approach to learning.
If you build it, they will connect
Four years ago, Piedmont City Schools had to deal with a more basic problem: the lack of a widespread Wi-Fi Internet connection. Using grant support, the district hired vendors to build a wireless network for the entire city. Piedmont students – as well as city residents – have since been able to access the web throughout the community. Blended learning has blossomed in this environment, and has helped the small rural district achieve academic competitiveness despite a significant low-income population. With the help of an NGLC planning grant, the district is now piloting a competency-based model in its middle school that will incorporate high tech skills. Students will study specialized subjects including robotics and computer programming, which serve to level the playing field with some of the nation’s leading school districts. Read the entire post on Getting Smart’s blog.