At North Park we understand the importance student engagement plays in higher level learning. Standards, curriculum, programming, instruction do not matter if children are not engaged with the work before them. In our primary classrooms we employ co-teaching, the purest form of teacher collaboration, to increase the attention available to each learner. Additionally, we provide work for our students in areas that are relevant. Our children begin to master technology in Kindergarten as projects are integrated with tablets and laptops requiring the learners to log into their personal Goggle accounts. We believe technology will never take the place of dedicated teachers, but our dedicated professionals use technology to gain learning and engagement advantages for our children. In our primary grades, students become readers, writers and mathematicians; they also practice the 4 C’s in preparation for the Learning Studio experience of the intermediate grades.
The level of student engagement in North Park’s Learning Studios is simply remarkable. The atmosphere in a Learning Studio is rarely quiet - learning is rarely a quiet activity. Students are given the freedom to make their bodies comfortable and to move around their learning space as needed. None of this causes distraction. When any adult other than the teacher enters the traditional classroom everything stops. All eyes are trained on the person entering. The teacher's next and most pressing task is to regain the attention of the students. For students in the intermediate grades, the traditional classroom - with desks arranged so that all eyes can be on the front of the room - is far more likely to be distracting than the Learning Studio where there is no front of the room.
Collaboration happens everywhere in North Park’s Learning Studios, we find this improves student engagement. Regularly, students in are gathered in small and large groups for short lessons. Invariably, groups are situated closely to one another, often facing one another through glass walls. However, students are not distracted by other groups - not even when afforded the opportunity to make faces at friends through glass walls. It simply does not happen. The Learning Studios were built around relevant programming - 21st Century Learning programming. When mastering the 4 C's, learners’ attention is on learning because the learning is relevant…and fun…and challenging…and student-driven.