Schools are branching out and taking chances on new ways of reaching students and deserve kudos for not doing things the same old way.

Sunnyside Elementary in Idaho Falls seems to be a breeding ground for new ideas.

The school is making a shift toward Expeditionary Learning (EL), a method that promotes group work and case studies. For example, rather than glossing over a vast amounts of information teachers train students to develop a more thorough understanding of a single topic.

A recent article in Idaho Education News detailed a months-long study that third-graders at Sunnyside conducted: It was all about bats!

Students dive into the subject together, and teachers try to take a step back.

“My favorite part was learning about bats on computers,” student Emarie Cefalo told Idaho Ed News. “I found out that bats pollinate like bees.”


Also wonderful is the fact that another teacher preferred a different approach. So she started her own school.

Idaho Education News also has written about Michelle Ball, who began Alturas International Academy a few years ago so she could focus on her passion: Multi-age learning.
Ball’s school emphasizes ability over age.

“I would never teach a student who is reading novels about the alphabet, regardless of their age. It’s just common sense not to do that,” Ball said.

Ball started with 24 students. Her school now has 270 students.

So what’s the takeaway here?

Perhaps every new idea won’t be the right one for EVERY student.

But can we all agree that remaining stagnant doesn’t help ANY of Idaho’s students?

References cited:

Idaho Education News: Idaho Falls Elementary employs ‘expeditionary” approach

Idaho Education News: East Idaho teacher ‘jumped off a cliff’ to start her own school