In 2014, we were looking for ways to modernize aging classrooms in the Tahoe Truckee (CA) Unified School District to enhance the overall educational experience. Both our student-facing facilities and our infrastructure were quite outdated. With some facilities dating back to the late 1920s, it had become difficult to provide a modern education for our students without making some significant upgrades.
In addition to upgrading the classroom technology, we wanted to upgrade the teaching and learning environment, and make our classrooms more accessible.
Envisioning the classroom of the future
We began with a team of six teachers, two each from the elementary, middle, and high school grades. Students were our focus and guided our efforts. We used a $50,000 grant from our local education foundation, Excellence in Education, and asked those teachers to look at what the classroom of the future might look like if money were no object.
Their recommendations fell into three different areas: technology, pedagogy, and the physical layout of the classroom and furniture.
We experimented in each of those three areas with our team of teachers. We visited private and public schools all around northern California to learn what others were doing. We then bought new furniture and experimented with technology and some different modes of instruction, such as project-based learning, small-group, student-led, passion projects, and more.