Today, Edutopia.org released a new video featuring one of OII’s i3 grantees — Bellevue School District’s Sammamish High School in Washington state. The video documents the transformation from the school’s use of traditional curriculum to problem-based learning. The district was awarded an i3 Development grant in 2010 for the development and implementation of a scalable, sustainable, 21st-century, skills-based program. This type of learning allows teachers to facilitate conversations and provide more effective classroom instruction; it also allows students to take more ownership in the learning process — how they connect to and learn the material, and how they put new knowledge into practice.
Last September, the Department funded 49 grantees, the first to be awarded grants under the Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund grant program. Projects focus on addressing the needs of students in rural districts, early learners, students with disabilities, limited English proficient students, and college access for students. The videos below highlight three i3 projects, two validation grants (The Curators of the University of Missouri and ASSET) and one development grant (School Board of Miami-Dade County). These projects represent an emphasis on technology in the middle school classrooms, enhancing early learning instruction from pre-kindergarten to 3rd grade, and strengthening hands-on STEM instruction based on how students learn. Each featured project also contains a significant emphasis on the professional development of teachers. These grantees represent rural schools in Missouri and Pennsylvania, early learning teachers in Florida, and STEM teachers in Pennsylvania. Interviews were conducted at the i3 project directors meeting in January 2011 and exemplify some of the innovative work being pursued by i3 grantees around the country.