Middle School Principal's Blog

Build It And They Will Learn

Posted on November 6, 2016

by Dr. Dwayne Priester on November 6, 2016


In the 20th-century, many schools began using textbooks as a means of standardizing instruction. This served well in both the industrial and information age. Over time, textbooks created a cycle of instructional dependency, limited thinking, and limited space for creativity. Now that we are well into the 21st-Century, many educators are beginning to discover that this often prescriptive way of thinking ineffectively addresses the learning needs of today's learner.

As our middle school understands the necessity of making a fundamental shift in practices, we took an aggressive step forward by phasing out textbooks during the spring of 2009. We opted to design student-centered lessons based on current research and best practice. While this change did not come without its challenges, we have seen the benefits of our decision over the past five years.

Innovative teachers like Mr. Javellana, middle school science teacher, are now incorporating creative approaches to making subjects come alive. Recently, he 3D-printed and constructed a fully functional microscope designed to help students understand and manipulate the flow of microbes also known as microscopic organisms.

Like other faculty in our middle school, this innovative design happened because Mr. Javellana is designing real-time lessons that are multifaceted, standards-based and structured around the instructional needs of our students. In fact, while designing lessons for his students, Mr. Javellana discovered the open-sourced schematics for a microscope created by a Stanford professor. Mr. Javellana then developed a prototype of the microscope that could be replicated by his students to also be used for instructional purposes. As a next step, he is requiring his students to 3D-print a classroom set of microscopes that will be directly tied to future science lessons.

When educators embrace innovative approaches to instruction student learning becomes limitless.