Did you know that 65% of today’s elementary students will one day work in jobs that have not yet been created?!? And, an article in Entrepreneur.com observes that the traditional approach to curriculum in classrooms may not be fully preparing students to meet the demands of tomorrow’s workforce.
That’s not the case at Leadership Prep School. Located in the heart of Frisco, the staff of this charter school recognizes that today’s students need to be prepared with well-developed skills of collaboration and leadership, as well as an ability to comfortably work with technology and data science. Adapting to rapidly developing technology is also an imperative skill, and Leadership Prep has responded to that need by integrating all classes at all grades with technology.
The traditional education model values our ability to find the one right answer using the one right approach,” says Stacy Alton, Leadership Prep’s Superintendent. “This teaches us there is only one final solution and it’s defined by authority — not the best model for career success. We’re that uncommon school who encourages students to look beyond the answer.”
Students learn programming and game design alongside and throughout their curriculum. LPS is the only charter school in the nation selected to partner with “Code to the Future” to teach students critical computer science skills.
On December 4th, LPS elementary and middle-school students had a chance to showcase their coding work to family, friends, and community members at “Epic Build,” the school’s first exhibition event of the year. Examples of coding exhibits included animated history lessons, storyboards, and video game programs.
Retooling and retraining will be the norm for tomorrow’s workforce. We have found that our students adapt well when we incorporate technology into the curriculum while introducing new concepts and challenges,” says Michelle Holland, Elementary Principal at LPS. “It’s always exciting to see what the students create using the technical skills they acquire from one year to the next.”
But LPS doesn’t just ensure that students can use computers and emerging technology in isolation. LPS embraces project-based learning which is a dynamic way of learning for students who develop a deeper understanding of content by investigating a real-life question, problem, or challenge. LPS’ project-based learning focuses specifically on group learning so that students continually practice collaboration and leadership skills in real time.
Every project-based learning activity begins with a driving question… similar to a thesis or mission statement. The students work in teams to conduct research and answer their question. Each team creates a social contract to hold other members of the team accountable which fosters a culture of trust, respect, and responsibility. Finally, teams strengthen their written and oral presentation skills by sharing their findings at the end of each project.
Students actually acquire content knowledge through multiple facets such as research, workshops with teachers, and interviews with professionals, rather than solely relying on a teacher’s lecture. This method makes learning core subject material more relevant and helps students understand the application of knowledge acquired,” says Audra Floyd, Secondary Principal at LPS. “Additionally, students develop strong critical thinking skills and become problem solvers through project-based learning.”
Shortly before Thanksgiving, the middle-school and high-school students of LPS participated in their first Student Showcase of the year to present the findings from their project-based learning (PBL) lessons.
One team of students presenting at the Student Showcase examined water samples from the pond behind the school and discovered organisms. They worked to find a solution for making the water potable using everyday supplies, such as coffee filters. The students demonstrated the process they used to clean the water so it could be safely consumed and answered questions about their project posed by their audience of family and community members.
Other teams presented their findings from driving questions like how the Texas landscape affected Native American tribes and how to use algebra to determine the best games for making money at a school carnival.
We’re focusing on closing the gap between academic instruction and workplace competency. Therefore, for our students, learning goes beyond simply understanding content. We employ the project-based learning method to prepare them with the critical thinking and teamwork skills necessary to succeed in the 21st-century workforce. Furthermore, our students begin coding in kindergarten, not because all of our students will be programmers, but because every industry has been and will continue to be intertwined with technology.” says LPS Superintendent Stacy Alton.
Some traditional models may be lagging behind the workforce’s needs, but it’s clear that students from Leadership Prep School will be leading the charge in tomorrow’s workforce.