School of One Brings New Form Style of Teaching

July 22, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

School of One students learn different subjects by playing interactive games on their laptops. (Cliff Jia/The Epoch Times)
School of One students learn different subjects by playing interactive games on their laptops. (Cliff Jia/The Epoch Times)
NEW YORK—Laptops, video games, and fun aren’t typically found in a high school classroom, but School of One, a new educational program being piloted in NYC schools this summer may have broken the chain. On Tuesday morning, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein led a tour of School of One on Hester St. in Chinatown to unveil their new breakthrough method of teaching.

The pilot program uses highly individualized and innovative classroom instruction. The program mixes the new with the old, by combining traditional teacher-led instruction with up-to-date instructional software to meet each student’s academic needs, learning style, and preferences.

This new age learning technology also focuses on math courses, looking at 34 different attributes the students may show in their school work. The program logs the student’s needs, learning style, and preferences and creates a play list for the kids to progress through. The program uses a learning algorithm developed by computer programmers.

When faced with the question about how the school can afford to pay for the developers as well as the school, Klein responded “Doing things more intelligently doesn’t mean doing them more expensively.” The School of One is also supported by grants from Cisco and The Fund for Public Schools, as well as by a prominent network of partners, including Wireless Generation, the Parthenon Group and others.

Phyllis Tam, the school's principal, described how School of One differentiates itself from other schools, “With School of One we open up the possibility to a lot more, so when you see that students are engaging with interactive software, its online with a live tutor. I could pull out the kids that really need my instruction, because something is just not clicking.”

By making use of so much new technology, problems might arise. Tam proposed possible solutions, “We try to balance out face to face time with the teachers, as well as with the peers, so that they’re not just faced in front of the laptop, but they also have opportunities to work with other students through problem solving, projects, and the revisory, and through checking in with the teachers. So to me, it’s also that humanistic part because technology sort of drives us away from that.”

The School of One model will be implemented in selected schools for the 2009-10 school year.