Round Rock School Embracing Innovative, Modern Approach
Joe Lee Johnson STEAM Academy, designed by BLGY for 21st Century Learning, was featured recently in the Austin American-Statesman. An excerpt of the article written by Nicole Barrios appears here, and you can read the full article by clicking the link below.
Students at the Round Rock school district’s newest elementary school ask the question “Why?” in an innovative approach to learning that seeks to turn students into problem-solvers.
Joe Lee Johnson, the district’s 34th elementary school, opened its doors in August as the district’s first STEAM academy focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. The school is aligned with the district’s Strategic Plan, which centers on creating flexible programs and learning environments.
The new school features flexible design and a unique approach to the district’s curriculum. The school has four wings, each with common areas — known as collaborative learning spaces — that are shared by six classrooms.
Previous versions of the campus layout have featured common spaces, but classrooms had solid walls separating them from the common area, [Principal Gabi] Niño said. Instead, Joe Lee Johnson features glass walls that can slide open.
“The intention is for that to be a collaborative space, and because the walls move and collapse into that space and there’s always the transparency out there, (common areas) are forever full,” she said. “The teachers just collapse the walls and (students) trickle out and share learning experiences there.”
The classrooms have a variety of sitting options for students, such as stand-up and sitting desks, yoga balls, stools that rocks or traditional chairs.
Students have access to tablets, laptops and Dell Chromebooks to choose which device best fits their learning challenge. Adjustable, touchscreen LCD panels are installed in each classroom.