What Public Schools Are Doing Right: Innovations in the Classroom

Public schools often get a bad rap. They are part of a system and systems, like most other things, lack perfection. However, many public schools are doing things right. Instructional institutions and educators throughout the country are developing innovative approaches to creatively engage students in classroom settings.

Public schools provide an array of programs for kids of all ages and interests. Some offer specialty courses in gifted or advanced placement studies, which may allow students to earn college-level credits. Other open school districts offer magnet programs, which may provide classroom and field experiences in specialty areas or focus intently on mathematics or science. Then there are the innovations in everyday classrooms that make learning fun and easy to grasp.

public school classroom innovative education

Original Approaches for Teaching Life Skills

Many public schools are allowing students to learn about finances, civics, ethics and social responsibilities by mimicking real world institutions and practices. These programs are known as microsocieties and are usually found at the elementary and middle school levels. Schools often integrate special periods or devote several days a week to real-life learning activities. In microsocieties, students elect other class members to assume the roles of officials who devise laws, create currency, impose levies and set pay rates. Students have jobs, earn money, create goods, sell merchandise and pay bills.

New Methods for Secondary Language Acquisition

Sure, students can take Spanish or French in school, but now public schools are taking things a step further and letting students learn general education subjects in monolingual or bilingual formats. Foreign language immersion programs are offered at elementary, middle and high schools. In total or partial immersion programs, non-native students can take all or some of their core courses in a second language. Curricula can also be taught in 2-way immersions, in which classrooms are comprised of non-native and native speakers. According to the Center for Applied Linguistics, as of 2011, states with the highest concentration of language immersion programs included Louisiana, Hawaii, Oregon and Virginia.

magnet school magnet program public school

Unique Magnet School and Optional Public School Programs

Magnet schools are available at primary and secondary school levels. Students may be able to apply through a lottery system or an academically-based admissions process. Programs vary throughout each school district. Miami-Dade County's Maritime and Science Technology Academy, located in Key Biscayne, Florida, is known for its marine biology and science programs. The programs provide learners with indoor and outdoor classroom experiences, emphasizing concepts in environmental science, ecology, meteorology, sustainability and renewable energy.

Miramar High School, also located in Florida, has an aviation science program that offers training in aerodynamics, flight basics, rocket engineering and aircraft modeling. Similarly, Wooddale High School in Memphis, Tennessee offers a pilot prep series that combines aviation theory and flight simulations. Students who are at least 16 years old can participate in supervised, hands-on flying experiences.

Creative Learning in Core Subject Areas

Most adults have cell phones, and these days most kids do too. Now some schools are embracing this electronic device as a learning tool for the next generation. For example, some educators in Virginia's Newport News Public School system are encouraging the use of cell phones for subjects such as math, science and composition. Students use cell phones as dictionaries, calculators, timers, cameras and text writers. Some courses even call for students to upload creative photos and content to classroom blogs. In addition, teachers who host in-class, interactive quizzes may allow students to use their phones, similar to buzzers that game show contestants might use, to text in with answers.

Learn more about how technology is changing learning.

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