Making lessons stick; that is the goal. Some schools are taking their teaching and learning to a whole new level by using living history. One great example is Lockeland Elementary Design Center.
In the nearby science wing, they dissect a cell’s composition and compare its structure to that of a Star Wars battleship. In math class, students add the cost of cake to confetti as they plan in-class birthday parties while learning the basics of budgeting.
Instead of offering a curriculum focused on repetition, test-taking and memorization, the faculty at Lockeland creates an interactive learning environment that fosters a holistic understanding of academic subject matter — and the school’s engaging efforts have paid off.
Lockeland was the only school in Davidson County to be recognized for both performance and progress when the state announced its 2012-13 reward schools.
Reward schools are recognized for being in the top 5 percent of schools throughout the state in annual academic growth or overall academic achievement. The Tennessee Department of Education describes these categories as fundamentally measuring performance and progress.
Even with the annual pressure of Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) tests, fourth-grade teacher Paige Francescon attributes Lockeland’s successes in growth and academic performance to a school-wide philosophy: to make learning meaningful. Francescon and her team use creative activities to encourage abstract thinking in the classroom, which helps students absorb material in the long term.
“We’re not really teaching to the test,” Francescon said. “We’re implementing our standards through projects, activities and big-picture learning to cater to all types of learners. Teaching to the test doesn’t work, but integrated learning does.”
Students at Lockeland are encouraged to set specific goals throughout the year, and faculty members help students compare their annual progress using formal data tracking.
While Lockeland scored in the top 5 percent for both reward designations, the school joins 169 schools that span 52 districts throughout the state that were either in the top 5 percent based on academic performance or the top 5 percent with the most progress since last year.
Gov. Bill Haslam spoke about Tennessee’s continued momentum in education reform while he recognized the state’s reward schools at an event held at Percy Priest Elementary, a school that was honored for its overall ability in making lessons stick, increasing academic achievement.