Silicon Valley’s Most Innovative and Unique Schools
Innovation and great education – two of the things Silicon Valley is known for – have been combined by a number of schools in this technology-driven region.
Ranging from pre-schools to universities, these institutions utilize progressive learning techniques and the region’s abundant technical expertise to encourage the blossoming of the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs. Along with forward thinking entrepreneurs, a number of public school districts are responsible for some of these innovations, rivaling the models of charter schools.
Here’s a look at a few of the most innovative and unique schools in Silicon Valley today.
Established in 2013, Altschool is open to students from pre-K through Grade 8, with seven schools in total located in New York, San Francisco, and Palo Alto. Known as a lab school, Altschool combines personalized learning techniques with their own technology. The students’ progress are constantly monitored and studied, with the intended end of coming up with an encompassing program for all public and private schools.
The students at Altschool are placed in mixed-age environments and are given their own gadgets, such as iPads or Chromebooks. Through these devices, the students are assigned individual and group activities, known as playlists, tailored to each child’s strengths and weaknesses. Activities include fun exercises like turning common objects into circuit boards and using 3D modeling to build playhouses. Every student’s progress is monitored using Altschool’s own apps and programs.
- Summit Public Schools
Headquartered in Redwood City, this school district has adapted Personalized Learning Plan (PLP), an innovation that allows students to learn and progress at their own pace.
The system makes use of an app that features a dashboard, which students
use to monitor their progress. The dashboard allows students to check the status of their current projects, the academic skills they’ve mastered, and their personal goals.
Students are given “playlists” or activities that correspond to various knowledge standards. Once they’ve mastered a standard, the students can review the playlists associated with the standard and request for assessments. The assessment results are then recorded in the PLP.
- Los Altos School District
Sixth graders belonging to LASD schools are given exposure to coding through a program called CSTEM. Students learn about programming through such projects as creating digital art and video games, and are given the chance to participate and compete in a school event that showcases coding. Engineering is also integrated into the school’s curriculum.
- Burnett Middle School
Part of the San Jose Unified School District, this school has adopted the “blended learning” approach, in which students learn through digital media as well as traditional instruction. Several online programs are integrated into the curriculum, featuring activities that students can work on at their own pace, individually and in groups. Students are not given letter grades; instead they receive scores based on their mastery of specific learning areas.
- Draper University
Designed specifically for present and future entrepreneurs, Draper University provides students with the chance to bring their start-up vision to realization.
The school is part of an ecosystem that includes venture capital firms from around the world. It features a co-working space and an accelerator program, and provides students with guidance in various innovative technologies. At the end of the program, students get the chance to pitch their projects to a panel of venture capitalists.
The university’s curriculum includes traditional lectures, unique interactive programs and activities, company visits, and workshops.