“Every class should be like this,” James said. He explained that being in the PBL classes enables the students to use not only geometry in a new way but also technology. For their first project, he said, they were encouraged to use cameras and power points.
Using various technologies are part of the Danville Diploma.
Beyond technology, the diploma includes teaching students to become financially literate; showing them responsibility with social media; requiring students to take Advanced Placement or college-level classes or earn career certification; and enabling them to be conversant in a language other than their own.
The methods have been what ultimately landed Danville schools on the radar of KET’s “Education Matters” and PBS’s “NewHour.”
The PBS crew first visited the schools in January and is expected to return this week. Besides interviewing students at the high school, they also spoke to Coleman and others, including some middle school students.
While at Bate, they followed some students to visit a local day care, which is something students were regularly doing for a service learning project, according to seventh-grader Jaden Mays. Mays is one of the teens who was interviewed and was part of the group visiting the day care.
On the day the “NewsHour” crew went with them, the students were teaching the young children about germs and how easily they are spread, using glitter.
“I was a little nervous because I was afraid I would say something wrong. But then I realized it was like every other Tuesday,” said Mays.
Asia Garrison, another of the seventh-graders who visited the day care, agreed, adding that she was nervous, too, but that this would help others know more about Bate.
KET spent time filming in the schools in December. “I thought it was pretty cool that they chose our school,” said seventh-grader Zachary Sanchez.
While the crew was visiting his class, taught by Diania Henderson, the students were encouraged not to look at the cameras.
At the time, they were working on a project involving memorization and communication skills, where one student was to examine a Lego construction and then return to the group and describe that construction to the students, enabling the group to build something similar.
Besides students and faculty from Danville schools, the KET feature will include the Eminence school district, David Cook from the Kentucky Department of Education and John Nash from the University of Kentucky. The segment will be called “Innovation in Student-Directed Learning,” according to Lynda Thomas, director of distance learning and professional development at KET and content producer for “Education Matters.”
“The focus of the show will be on creating engaging, student-centered, rigorous lessons that help promote student achievement,” said Thomas.
The lessons highlighted “all represent personalized, individual learning that connects with students and gives them the opportunity for academic success.”
Coral Shelton, an eighth-grader who was interviewed by the KET crew, said projects such as one she is currently doing involving the Indian Removal Act, help students begin to think more in-depth about history and putting themselves in others’ shoes.
“It gets you in their shoes of what they were thinking; it gets you really thinking. You feel like you’re in that place, that situation.”
Groves, the DHS teacher, said getting students to see those different challenges teaches them how to solve them. Ultimately, he said, it expands the horizons of the students and the teachers, which is important in the modern world, with modern students.
“I think too often our schools across the country, we’re not brave enough to try new things,” he said. “The world is changing, and too often our schools are not.”