Transforming elementary school for new day of learning

Posted 3/25/11

Christine Cutter Douglas County School District is embarking on a grand vision for improving learning through ensuring a world-class education, …

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Transforming elementary school for new day of learning


Christine Cutter

Douglas County School District is embarking on a grand vision for improving learning through ensuring a world-class education, increasing choice for all students and building a comprehensive system performance within classrooms, schools and throughout the district. These new outcomes truly reflect the needs of a new day in education.

Elementary school is often referred to as the critical first step in building a foundation for a child’s learning that will last a lifetime. A child’s first impression, like so many other experiences in their young lives, is paramount in developing a lifelong pursuit for knowledge and understanding. It is also an experience that almost everyone can draw upon with first-hand familiarity. However, so much about elementary school has changed since most of us attended school.

Elementary school was once a training ground for textbook use and repetitive memorization. Now it offers limitless resources through a multitude of applications and allows students to think beyond computers, beyond the Internet and beyond the stereotypes of learning that formed our memories and our experiences. Today’s elementary students have a greater ability to access more information at an accelerated pace and can package their knowledge in so many different ways. We no longer search for outlets for their learning, but create environments to allow for freedom in demonstrating their understanding.

The Douglas County School District is committed to meeting the needs of today’s students. Walk into any one of the 49 elementary sites and you are likely to see students engaged in rigorous learning that includes a deliberately-focused approach in meeting targets that are explicit, a shared forum for discussion between teachers and students, authentic work that allows for real-world connections and applications, and an attention to personalize each student’s learning opportunities at all levels.

In our classrooms, you will see rigorous instruction where teachers collaborate to meet the needs of all learners, questioning which induces higher order thinking skills, learning ranging from facilitation to direct instruction, authentic assessment integrated as part of each lesson, and differentiation which challenges each student’s individualized learning and is embedded in all aspects of their work.

The district also serves family needs by offering a variety of programmatic choices at the elementary level. Rock Ridge Elementary offers a Primary Years Program for International Baccalaureate, Castle Rock Elementary is a school of science and inquiry, and Renaissance Elementary Magnet is an Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound School, just to name a few.

For most of us, we did not experience choice like this until we were in high school, or for some, not until college. Elementary schools now specialize in program delivery and focus, each a part of the Douglas County school system, yet individual in their ability to meet the needs of their unique neighborhoods.

We are committed to our parents, students, employees and community to ensure that elementary school remains a critical first step in all children’s development of a love for learning. It sets students on a path toward building an appreciation for knowledge and an ability to apply their understanding. Our children are not the same students as we were when we attended school. Honestly, they are much smarter. And so our district provides a variety of environments where their rich experiences and access to information can be channeled to develop high interest, highly individualized learning experiences. This is a world-class elementary education in Douglas County.


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