District residents, educators plan for future

By DANIEL HERATY
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – Dearborn Public Schools educators and residents are focused on the future.

The goal of the 21st Century Student committee, which comprises members of both groups, is to make students better equipped to succeed in the future. That means adapting to a new way of thinking for education, including the way people traditionally have thought of school.

And that’s just one of the changes that may be coming.

“The classroom might not look like a classroom,” said Associate Supt. Norma Jean Sass. “There’s definitely a need for what students will be using in the future.”

The committee, which was formed in 2010, resumed its meetings last Wednesday. The purpose was to develop ideas — including how schools will look in the future — and then expand on them. The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 9 in the Administrative Service Center, 18700 Audette.

Sass said updating to a 21st century method of education will be an ongoing process, and that she hopes to keep it going.

“We don’t want to have this sit on the shelf,” she said.

Skill sets of students and teachers will be examined, with the intent of turning both groups into problem solvers. Different languages and cultures also will be studied. Project-based learning, physical space and some college-implemented tactics, such as online classes also are possibilities.

“Maybe the students could pick their class times,” she said.

Physical space can be used to augment ways of teaching that do not involve traditional means. Project-based learning means working with others and using creative thinking.

The community has been active in this process, as residents have shown an interest in what schools might look like in the future. That can only be positive, Sass said.

“The best way to get ideas is to bring people together,” she said.

Once discussions move past a committee, plans will solidify, Sass said. She emphasized that nothing has been put into place yet, and the next step in the process will not begin until they are. That date, she said, will not come until May at the earliest.

“We will then start to look at things that will be implemented,” Sass said. “Some will come in the first year, some will come in the second year, and on from there.

“We have no preconceived notions,” she said. “It all depends on how our work goes. Everything is very open-ended.”

Committee meetings will be held in April and May. For more information contact the district’s Communications Office at (313) 827-3006, or the 21st Century Schools blog at http://blog.dearbornschools.org/21centuryschools.

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at dheraty@bewickpublications.com.)

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