Fairbanks looks to transform school day

Fairbanks schools will be the first in Alaska to implement a new education model that will transform the traditional school day.

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”This whole idea of sitting in a desk for six hours a day is just gonna start changing,” North Star Borough Schools Superintendent Karen Goborik said.

Gaborik said the district is contracting with national consulting firm “Education Elements” on the $1.6 million learning project to revamp the way kids and teachers interact.

”Start to shift our thinking around how we group kids,” Gaborik said. “So grouping kids around their learning needs and their learning pace instead of age and grade.”

Gaborik said technology will play a major role as a source of information and a platform for interaction.

”We don’t need a teacher and a textbook to give us the information like we used to. I mean, it’s available to anybody,” Gaborik said. “So now the teacher becomes more a facilitator of learning. Teaching students how to consume information critically, how to use that information to be creative, to innovate and then teaching teaching students how to collaborate and really getting at some of those skills that the workforce now needs from students that are graduating from our systems.”

Gaborik said the changes vary depending on grade level but can radically change the daily format, with kids attending school less than 5 days a week and completing courses at their own pace.

”And that’ll be very interesting at the high school level, ’cause you’re gonna have some kids that do not need four years to get a high school diploma,” Gaborik said. “So then we want to put in place some options for them to start earning college credit, associate’s degrees, industry certifications, do internships… things like that.”

Gaborik emphasized that students, parents and teachers will still share responsibility to make sure kids are learning. She said the program will be rolled out at the elementary level next semester, with changes at higher grades over the following 3 years.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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