Go inside a school that's years ahead of itself

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -- As the new school year gets underway, some parents and grandparents might be blown away by the modernization of some schools and the teaching methods being used these days.

Fremont Elementary School in Springfield, Missouri was built in 1954 and, renovated just last year. And the days of desks all in a row with a chalkboard at the front are long gone.

"The concepts behind this school is flexibility for the learners," said James Grandon, Fremont School principal.

The first thing you notice is lots of open space with student-seating that is, shall we say, made for comfort.

"Most of the floors in our school are carpeted because we want our students to be comfortable working where they're going to learn the best," said Grandon. "This is a space in our school that we call a cave space. This is where students have the ability to climb into a little enclosed area and be on their own if they need to be."

And while there are classrooms, there are giant garage-looking doors that open up to make bigger rooms.

"This is a lot of research looking at the future of the workplace and the future of what's needed for people as they're growing up and going through education," said Grandon. "The idea is what they call the four 'C's: collaboration, critical thinking, communication and creativity."

Not only has the look of the school changed, so has the way of teaching. You won't find a lot of pencils and paper anymore. Instead, high-speed computers able to access all kinds of material off the web known as Chromebooks. And the teaching approach is known as "project-based learning," where the idea is to apply what you learn into real projects.

"One of the things they have the opportunity to do is to build their own robots with these Lego robotic kits," said Grandon. "And then they can program them to do things. Students as young as kindergarten start working with this one that they can program from their iPads. And it will go exactly where they want 'em to go."

What's really amazing is watching second graders who are better at running computers than many adults. And they don't take textbooks home anymore. They take their electronic books.

"After watching the kindergartners last year, and their profiency levels were through the roof," said Grandon. "I imagined what will this be like in 13 years when they walk out of high school. I'm thrilled for the future."

Read the original version of this article at ky3.com.