Brandon Valley SmartLab Has Kids Thinking Outside the Box

Brandon Valley (South Dakota) is justifiably excited about their new SmartLab. Earlier this fall, News4 reported on the Brandon Valley Intermediate School SmartLab. A recent article in The Argus Leader provides more fascinating perspectives about this innovative program. 

In the article, SmartLab Facilitator Matt Mueller provides valuable insights into how a SmartLab program can benefit the entire school. “I’ve been asking the core teachers, like the math and the reading teachers, 'what are you seeing with kids that have had the lab' and they say they are not afraid to fail, they ask more questions, they want to know why something is the way it is, and for all of our learners, that’s what we want."

Click the link below to download the full article.  

BrandonValleyArticle_ArgusLeader.pdf (7.3MB)

House Passes Every Student Succeeds Act

While we generally stay away from politics in this blog, the passage of new federal legislation to replace No Child Left Behind deserves comment.

With our unwavering focus on higher-order thinking skills and student engagement, for many years we felt like a lone voice in the No Child Left Behind wilderness. While standardized testing may have a role to play in K-12 education, it's the virtual antithesis of our mission and learning philosophy. 

While the new legislation doesn't abandon standardized testing (we never expected that it would), it appears to be less of an obstacle to a renewed emphasis on authentic learning. For that, we welcome the bill and applaud the bipartisan support it received. 

By no means have we had time to understand the full implication of the 1,059 page bill. We'll be closely watching for further analysis. At first blush though, it seems like a positive development.

Read more here.

And by the way, under the language of the new bill, SmartLabs qualify as both educational technology and blended learning programs - something to keep in mind when exploring funding options.

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