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Schools of the Future: Content, Curriculum and the Physical Space

Schools of the Future: Content, Curriculum and the Physical Space

Across the U.S., school districts are embracing the concept of future-ready schools, or schools that are rooted in the 21st Century Learning Framework. In such schools, teachers’ and students’ roles are reversed—students take a greater role in directing their own progress through a unique learning path, while teachers become guides and mentors. This report, Schools of the Future, examines the characteristics of future-ready schools, gleaned through the experiences of those who have implemented key components, and provides a look at where the U.S. is today in transforming the current education system into the schools of the future.

Schools of the Future, Part 1: Curriculum and Content focuses on the changing curriculum and content needs of future-ready schools, the changing roles of teachers and learners and how that changes the demand for instructional materials.

Schools of the Future, Part 2: The Physical Space looks at the interaction of learning and the physical environment and the role that changing the learning environment can have in how teachers teach and children learn. Learning environments are changing both through new construction and redesign of existing spaces.


  • Executive Summary
  • Methodology
  • The School of the Future: An Introduction
    • What is the School of the Future?
      • A Move toward Student-Led Learning
      • Technology Supports Learning
      • A Comfortable and Collaborative Environment
      • Transformation in Teacher-Leadership
    • What is Driving the Changes?
    • Potential Challenges Ahead
    • A Fragmented Landscape of Change
  • Curriculum and Content
    • 21st Century Learning Models
      • Personalized Learning
      • Blended Learning
      • Hands-on Learning
      • Cross-Disciplinary and Multi-Age Learning
      • College, Career, and Community
    • Impact on Instructional Materials
      • Growth in Digital Resources
      • Kits and Components for Hands-on Learning
      • Free and Open-Source Materials
      • Assessments
    • Scheduling for 21st Century Learning
    • Educators' Changing Role
      • Impacts on Professional Learning
      • Hiring for Change
      • Role of the Librarian
  • Technology and Tools
    • A Digital Environment
      • Devices for All
      • Digital Content and Resources
    • Tech Tools For Schools of the Future
      • 3D printers
      • Robotics
      • Virtual and Augmented Reality
      • Gamification
      • Other Technologies to Watch
  • A Look Ahead
    • Developing a Vision
    • Seeking Inspiration
    • Generating Educator Enthusiasm
    • Focusing on Flexibility
    • Other Considerations
      • Grassroots Growth
      • Supporting Expansion
      • Guiding the Transition
      • Promoting Partnerships
      • Time Management
    • The Future
  • Case Studies
    • Salt Lake City's Innovations Early College High School: Personalized
    • Albemarle County Schools: Grassroots Initiative Leads to District-wide Hands-on Learning Curriculum
    • South Fayette School District: School-to-Business Partnerships Foster Project-Based Learning
    • Evergreen Public Schools: Using Open-Source Math Resources in Lieu of a Commercial Core Program
    • Design Tech High School: Design Thinking as an Organization Principle
  • Executive Summary
  • Methodology
  • The School of the Future: An Introduction
    • What is the School of the Future?
      • A Move toward Student-Led Learning
      • Technology Supports Learning
      • A Comfortable and Collaborative Environment
    • What is Driving the Changes?
    • Potential Challenges Ahead
    • A Fragmented Landscape of Change
  • The Physical Space
    • New Building Projects
      • A Primary Goal: Flexibility
      • Common Configurations
      • Environmental and Other Attributes
    • Retrofitting Existing Spaces
      • Modernization and Renovation Projects
      • Alternatives to Large-Scale Renovation
      • The Role of the Library
    • Furniture and Furnishings
  • A Look Ahead
    • Developing a Vision
    • Soliciting Input from Stakeholders
    • Seeking Inspiration
    • Generating Educator Enthusiasm
    • Other Considerations
      • Focusing on Flexibility
      • Grassroots Growth
      • Change Need Not Be Costly
      • Promoting Partnerships
      • Time Management
  • Case Studies
    • Palo Alto High School Media Arts Center: New Building Supports Collaboration and Community
    • Red Oak Independent School District: Transforming Libraries to Learning Commons
    • Boulder Valley School District: Innovation as a Marriage of Curriculum and Physical Space
    • Frederick County Public Schools: Replacement Middle School Serves as Blueprint and Inspiration
    • Lexington County School District One: Creating a Cohesive Schools-ofthe- Future Plan

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