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Innovation

glowing purple lights hover over trays of seedlings in a dark room

It may look like a plain, white shipping container was just parked on the backyard grounds of Mountain Vista High School. The contents of the container are anything but plain, though. Walking inside the container, different colors of ambient lighting glow, futuristic-looking equipment and tall towers are suspended from the ceiling, and the humidity level is set to 70 percent. The container has been recycled into a new kind of learning opportunity for students.

STEM School Highlands Ranch is one of just 30 schools in the world and one of two schools in the Denver Metro region named a 2017 World-Leading Learners School, and has been invited to join the Global Learning Network (GLN), a community of educators from exemplary schools that develop, practice and share innovative approaches to education that ensure their students are prepared for career and lifelong success.

Congressman Buck with Etash

A Douglas County sophomore just returned from Washington, D.C., where he was honored for his winning app, "Spell Me!," which helps prepare students for spelling bees and tests. 

Student showing off his presentation on a laptop, center, while people all around him pay close attention

Students from Mesa Middle School, Cherokee Trail Elementary, and Heritage Elementary dream big to create solutions for real world problems

CENTENNIAL— It’s not unusual for students to be tasked with the challenge of conceptualizing a solution to a real-world problem. However, some Douglas County students were challenged to elevate that task a few levels, developing a prototype of their solution and then presenting it to local business leaders they have never before met.

 

 

HIGHLANDS RANCH-

fourth grader on left, high schooler on right, using biotech tool to extract dna from leaves

Extracting DNA from tissue is not often thought of as an activity that a fourth-grader would engage in. While most students are just being introduced to genetics in their science classes at that grade level, Beth Thomas’ fourth grade science class at Redstone Elementary School in the Douglas County School District (DCSD) are learning to extract and code DNA from leaves, fish and other biological samples— and they are learning this from juniors and seniors in Rock Canyon High School’s biotechnology program.

STEM students pose

Two Douglas County schools have kept the streak alive. For the fifth consecutive year, Douglas County School District (DCSD) students have taken home the "Best in State" title in the Verizon App Challenge. Cimarron Middle School and STEM School and Academy now need community support to win the regional and national levels of the competition.

A modernized walking cane for the blind that verbally lets its user know when items are in their path, edible water bottles that are environmentally friendly, an app that provides information on why a flag at a DCSD school may be at half-staff on a particular day. These are just a fraction of projects Douglas County School District (DCSD) students presented at the first Student Innovation Expo on Monday, June 6.

The feedback from employees and school administrators, through the staff survey and focus groups, was clear. They wanted more support in understanding the instructional practices that are now expected of DCSD teachers and are evaluated in the Continuous Improvement of Teaching Effectiveness (CITE) tool.

I’ve heard the phrase “innovative classroom” several times in the five months since I began working with Douglas County School District. I have to admit, I do get a little skeptical in general when I hear the word “innovative.” 

Students enrolled in Douglas County High School’s (DCHS) International Baccalaureate (IB) dance program are getting an incredible opportunity this week-- one that no other students in the U.S. are receiving.

Peter Thompson, a Douglas County School District (DCSD) psychologist and leader of the District’s Brain Trauma Team, has set an ambitious goal. In the next three years, he hopes to ready teams at every school to handle possible cases of brain trauma.

Heritage Elementary teacher Lisa McIntosh says a recent project, led by her students, has completely changed the way she teaches. Her second-graders organized a car wash that not only raised $537 for an international organization that battles poverty and hunger, but also opened her eyes to what is possible when students are empowered to show their learning through an authentic experience.

Some of the most powerful learning opportunities can happen when students are encouraged to follow their passion wherever it might take them.

Why giving students voice & choice in classroom is important

 

Rather than sleep in at the end of their Fall break last week, some DCSD high school students chose to end their week by climbing a 50-foot rock wall at Castlewood Canyon as part of the newly renamed Stone Canyon Outdoor EDventures program.

Rock Canyon students seek funding for biotechnology projects

HIGHLANDS RANCH – You do not need to be a graduate student at a major university to study Alzheimer's disease, allergies or the impact of mobile devices on the human brain. These are just a couple of the experiments proposed by Rock Canyon High School students, who are getting a chance to be real researchers thanks to the expansion of the school’s biotechnology program.

On October 23, the students will present their projects to the public, in hopes of securing funding for their research.

hile Douglas County’s Challenge to Excellence Charter School (C2E) has a tremendous amount of technology, with 1:2 tablets in kindergarten and first-grade, 1:1 tablets in second-grade and 1:1 Chromebooks in grades three through eight, the school’s leaders say it is not the numbers that matter. It is what their students are doing with the technology and the increase in engagement they have seen that they are proud of and what captured the attention of Google For Education, who recently featured the school in a case study.

Leadership teams from schools across Douglas County School District took advantage of a new opportunity this summer. During the first-ever Leadership Summit, District staff helped to facilitate planning for the new school year and empowering schools to find the best approach to implementing the Strategic Plan for their school community.

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) of Douglas County is a groundbreaking and exciting thirty-week program that transforms middle and high school students into real, confident entrepreneurs.

The focus of Comic Con is often superheroes, which is probably why Douglas County School District (DCSD) students and their teachers fit in so well at this year’s event in Denver.

CASTLE ROCK – Walking into the Castle Rock Middle School's library, you may instantly have the feeling that this isn’t your father’s Oldsmobile. While students are still dropping off overdue books, something is unmistakably different.

This week during the second-annual iLab Innovation Capstone Symposium seventh-grade students at Mountain Ridge Middle School will once again be empowered to employ the knowledge and skills they’ve learned in the classroom to effect change in their community and around the world.

Chaparral High School Destination Imagination team

ENGLEWOOD – Seventy-five teams from schools in the Douglas County School District (DCSD) competed against their peers at the South Metro Regional Destination Imagination Tournament on March 14 at Englewood High School.

LONE TREE – Over a three-day period, educators from around the country gathered in Douglas County to learn about the innovative techniques implemented by the Douglas County School District (DCSD) and to collaborate on transforming the educational system. 

Usually students have to wait until college to explore the world of biotechnology. This winter, however, a group of students from Rock Canyon High and Copper Mesa Elementary schools teamed up, showing they are more than capable of handling cutting-edge research.

With heavy snow and cold temperatures, Rock Canyon High School’s Fire Science class’s recent vehicle extrication exercise was about as realistic as you can get—in training.

HIGHLANDS RANCH – Highlands Ranch High School (HRHS) is one of only a dozen schools across the United States and Canada that will be competing in the 2015 CyberPatriot National Finals Competition.

A program that puts iPads in the hands of every “digital native” at Redstone Elementary has earned the school an Apple Distinguished School designation in recognition of its innovation, leadership, and educational excellence.

CASTLE ROCK - We know how valuable our employee’s time is, which is why efforts are underway to roll out a new system that will bring all of their information about payroll, benefits and personal data into one place.

HIGHLANDS RANCH - All curious Douglas County are invited to the fourth annual Imagination Expo at Northridge Elementary School on Wednesday, May 7.

This year’s Expo will be bursting with fun hands-on activities that reflect the school’s STE(A)M philosophy. STE(A)M stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math. There is no charge to attend the Expo, which has a theme this year of “Larger Than Life!”

Over the weekend the giant white tent at the Outlets at Castle Rock was bustling with activity, as parents, students and community members gathered to admire the artwork created by Douglas County School District students and teachers.

fire scene

PARKER – For most students, getting real-life job experience while still in high school can be priceless. For the students in the Fire Science class at Rock Canyon High School (RCHS), this scenario recently became a reality.

Usually when construction happens at a school, workers do their best to lock out students, to ensure their safety. The contractor working on the expansion of the STEM School and Academy had a different take, instead encouraging the kids on to the site and incorporating them in the project.

RVMS CODE Club members

HIGHLANDS RANCH – For the second year in a row, a Douglas County school is in contention for Verizon’s Innovative App Challenge.

Robotics medal winners

DENVER – For the first time ever, the United States hosted the International Robot Olympiad (IRO), right here in Colorado. Douglas County students welcomed the world and then showed them their Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Creativity and Communication in the competition.

In a couple weeks, about 400 kids from around the world will be arriving in Colorado to compete and collaborate with Douglas County students, during the first International Robot Olympiad to be held in this hemisphere.

A series of conversations over Saturday morning coffee have led Castle View High School educators to look at the way they teach students differently.

Classroom allows teachers to try new concepts in education

“Smile for the cameras!”, “What are you wearing tonight?” and “Would you like any popcorn?” were just a few of the remarks overheard at the premiere of “The Rock Crew” movie at Rocky Heights Middle School (RHMS) on Friday, May 11.

Cell phones, iPads the norm in Douglas County classrooms.    

District News

kids running outside as part of a race

DCSD is requesting parent input on the health and wellness of our students. Last year, DCSD received a large planning grant from Colorado Health Foundation in an effort to assess how the district supports students through the lens of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model (WSCC). The mission of this grant is to review the current state of DCSD's student health and wellness program, and then formulate a three to five-year plan based on stakeholders’ needs, the latest research, and best practices. As part of this process, we would like your input.

How are we doing?

We want to hear from you! How often do you prefer to receive email newsletters from DCSD? How can we improve the news and information you receive? This brief survey should only take a minute or two of your time. Thank you for giving us your input!

Tell us what you think, here!

 

glowing purple lights hover over trays of seedlings in a dark room

It may look like a plain, white shipping container was just parked on the backyard grounds of Mountain Vista High School. The contents of the container are anything but plain, though. Walking inside the container, different colors of ambient lighting glow, futuristic-looking equipment and tall towers are suspended from the ceiling, and the humidity level is set to 70 percent. The container has been recycled into a new kind of learning opportunity for students.