What’s new in the iLab?

Happy first birthday to the Winooski iLab! As we enter our second year of offering students personalized and proficiency-based learning, we are building on our strengths from last year and making adjustments to increase the value of independently-driven learning.

The successes we are carrying over include our iLab process for learning (Think It, Learn It, Make It, Share It) as well as individualized project goals, a non-graded format (until the end), flexible timelines, an engaging, comfortable physical environment, and periodic Share It Nights, when the whole community can come talk to students about what they’re learning.

We are also making modifications in response to what we learned last year. For instance, we found that it was too easy for students to lose sight of required assignments for the class. To help them keep track of their progress, and not procrastinate until quarter 4, students now have quarterly checklists of assignments that include research, writing, and oral presentation. This schedule is part of the iLab’s implementation of a complex assessment for the Graduate Expectation “Effective Oral and Written Communication.”

Also, we experimented over the last year with on-line systems that would help students monitor their own progress; fortunately, the high school has adopted the learning management system called Canvas, which is a pretty user-friendly way to keep track of work.

This year, we are also requiring 2-3 hours per quarter of work with or supervised by a Community Connection, as we found last year that the students who got the most out of their learning were those who had access to a mentor with expertise in the student’s topic. Now that we have our learning process developed, iLab advisors are spending more time helping students find and access community resources and opportunities.

Adding an element of flexibility, students are now able to pursue an iLab project for a semester as well as for the whole school year. At the semester mark in January, students will have the opportunity to reflect on their progress so far and then commit to deepening an existing project, adjusting the research topic, or taking a different semester class outside of the iLab.

Here are some of the topics students are delving into this year:

  • Science: Coding in JAVA, Turtles, Careers in Cancer Research, Catapults, Building a Computer, Maple Trees, Forensics

  • Art: Glass Blowing, Tee-shirt Design, Shoe Design, Personal Expression through the Arts, Drawing, Graphic Design, Photography, Book Binding and Type Setting

  • Performance: Singing, Rap Music, Acting, Drumming, Slam Poetry, Music Recording

  • Languages: American Sign Language, Polish, Swedish, Spanish

  • Writing: Urban Exploration and Journalism, Graphic Novels

  • Culture: The Holocaust, The Mafia, Paganism, Korean Influences in Nepali Culture

  • Skills: Marksmanship, Parkour, Boxing and Martial Arts, Fire Fighting

If you have knowledge or experience to offer students in these or other areas, please contact us at (802) 383-6111 or by e-mail. And be sure to come see our Fall Share It Night on November 11th from 5:30 to 7:00 pm in the Winooski Schools cafeteria!

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