Beginning the 2015-2016 school year, ACPS began to pilot Classroom Active Learning Labs (ALL) at John Humbird Elementary School in grade four. Inspired by TechActive Classrooms of Tomorrow in the Sarasota School District, ACPS is integrating 21st Century learning skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication to create a similar instructional model at John Humbird.
Active Learning Labs allow for high levels of STEM integration and student engagement. Lessons have a clear, focused and purposeful instructional design, and learning experiences are enhanced by access to technology. In Active Learning Labs, students strengthen their skills in analysis, synthesis and evaluation; learn to think about tasks and problems from a variety of viewpoints; work together as a team to accomplish a task; and use accountable discussions to build respectful discourse, connect prior learning and empower rigorous thinking.
Lesson plan designs for Active Learning Labs are based upon Fisher and Frey’s Gradual Release of Responsibility framework to transfer responsibility from teacher to student. The ultimate goal of learning is that students are able to independently apply information, ideas, content, skills and strategies in new and different situations. This process helps students take ownership of their learning while allowing teachers to move from teaching facts to teaching thinking.
In ALL classrooms, students work collaboratively with the teacher, who serves as a facilitator. There are no more desks in a row with the teacher in front of the classroom. The technology-enhanced classrooms incorporate inquiry based, student-centered, collaborative workgroup environments where students are grouped around a centralized interactive touchscreen workstation. The workstation is multipurpose - it serves as a traditional workstation and also as a science lab station - and enables ACPS to combine the instructional environment and the laboratory setting.
ACPS plans to expand Active Learning Labs to all grades four and five at John Humbird during the 2016-2017 school year. Washington Middle School will also have sixth grade science classrooms transformed into Active Learning Labs.