Innovative and Flexible Learning

  • Witnessed Innovative and Flexible Learning

                I have been an Alternative Education Principal for over 13 years with over 20 years of combined educational experience working with At-Risk Youth.    My teachers are very flexible and good at finding creative ways to help students be successful using alternative approaches to teaching students so they can reach both academic and social goals.    When we decided to update our technology usage in our Big Picture School at Elm St. Academy in Cuba, NY we talked with the Technology Director Jay Morris and set up a tour at CRCS MS/HS to see how they were using technology in the classroom.   

    What I witnessed in an 8th grade Social Studies class taught by Mr. Cappelletti that just happened to have my daughter participating in was amazing to say the least.  I saw roughly 20 adolescent teenagers in multiple groups drafting DBQ’s on Moodle through apple TV.   The amazing thing was every single student was participating and having fun and engaged.   Most 8th grade students would not be smiling in a traditional Social Studies class and using information from various groups put in through their iPads issued to them by the school to draft a DBQ.  In fact in all my memories and experiences traveling to 22 different component districts I can’t remember ever witnessing such a sight.    Students were working together, learning and viewing on the screen other thoughts and samples to gain knowledge around writing a DBQ.   Not one student with a head down or yawning and in fact so engaged that the teacher found it hard to wrap up the session before the bell rang.   

    When we interviewed a few students about what their thoughts were using the technology they were comments like “fun” and “cool” surfaced from middle school students about learning.   We left that day to immediately plan to install some of the technology in our school in hopes to give us more tools to reach the At-Risk youth and create yet  another alternative pathway to success and learning.   As an Administrator I was truly impressed with the innovation and flexibility in a traditional learning environment and as a father of one of the students very happy that my 2 children are attending CRCS to have the benefits of using technology in the classroom and when asking them how school is having comments like “fun” and “cool” when most teenagers come home and say “boring.”    I told my wife when I went home that day that I felt our children would have a leg up in the world because of the innovative and creative learning they are exposed to at CRCS versus prior schools they attended.    

    My hat goes off to Jay and his staff along with the awesome teachers that are not only helping children to learn but to use technology that they will need to know how to use in the future for success in their academic, career and social lives.  



    Chris McNell – Principal @ Elm St. Academy – A “Big Picture Learning School”