21st Century Learning–in the Woods

Sure, you say–21st century learning would be great if we had the resources, or the authority, or something else, to make it happen. Everyone can come up with multiple reasons why it can’t happen here. But it can.

Take Wildlands School, a teacher-managed charter school within the Augusta, Wisconsin School District. In the fall of 2005, with the passion and leadership of three teachers, the Wildlands Science Research Charter School opened, welcoming 40 students from Grades 7 & 8 and 11 & 12. Students have come from as many as nine small cities from the region. Today, they have 60 students in Grades 7-12, and the majority of their group activities focus on investigation of the natural world. Wildlands partners with Beaver Creek Reserve, a 400-acre nature center in the Eau Claire County Forest.

This is a teacher-powered, science-research, project based school. Why is it 21st century? Here are a few reasons:

They treat each student as an individual, not as a member of a class or part of a list of standards that must be met. “Students excel when they are part of the plan, part of the project, and part of the team instead of passive receivers of a curriculum,” the teachers report.

Students are tested daily as the need to be fully vested in their own educational program. Students have consistently performed far above state averages on required state and local assessments.

Students present to peers and the public, and produce projects connected to the community that have meaningful results outside the school.

Teachers and students welcome evaluation, scrutiny, and want transparency and accountability. Teachers and students identified together essentials for transforming their school into a student-centered learning culture.

Want to find out more?  Check out Thursday’s blogpost and watch for a new book this spring,  An Improbable School:  Transforming How Teachers Teach and Students Learn by two of the founding Wildlands teachers, Paul Tweed and Liz Seubert!