New Designs for School
New Designs for School

We’ve all had the experience of truly purposeful, authentic learning and know how valuable it is. Educators are taking the best of what we know about learning, student support, effective instruction, and interpersonal skill-building to completely reimagine schools so that students experience that kind of purposeful learning all day, every day.

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Primary Contact Name:
Mary Beth Cunat
Award Date:
April 2014
Grant Type:
Regional Planning
Start Date:
Fall 2015
Startup Type:
Complete Redesign

School: Wildwood World Magnet School
Grades Served: K-8
Location: 6950 N Hiawatha Ave, Chicago, IL 60646
Operator: Chicago Public Schools- Magnet
Operator Type: District
Setting: Urban
Students: 420

Hallmark Feature: International Baccalaureate (IB) school

This redesign helps bring new meaning to student ownership of learning by requiring each student to develop his/her own transdisciplinary curricula as the backbone of the year’s learning. Each individual unit produced will require a creative product to demonstrate new learning, use of digital media to record and assess student’s progress meeting Common Core standards, and facilitation of meaningful discussion among and between teachers and peers. Through this curriculum innovation students develop as members of a learning community, responsible for achieving standards of excellence and for becoming digital, global, creative, and critical thinkers.

  • Cross-curricular thematic content units will be tailored to each student because each will be choosing the specific novel, time period, or sub-topic of specialty/interest which they wish to peruse within a broader scientific, social, or literary concept. The intellectual challenge of connecting what appear as diverse content areas will require students to engage in an academic rigor and critical thinking that is both unique and highly individualized.
  • Building on an idea developed during the 2013 Summer Design Program, each upper grade student will have his/her own digital backpack that helps shape their digital footprint as a record of their thinking and productivity instead of just aimless social media. This set of digital tools will allow students to monitor their own learning progress. Students will be responsible for understanding national standards which they will be required to meet as well as evaluate the ways in which their own work shows they have met those standards.
  • Open concept learning spaces with one to one technology ratios will help students understand the limitless nature of learning spaces, allow for creative grouping, shift dynamics in power structures from teacher at the top to peer and self feed back as equally critical, and imitate the most advanced 21st Century business environments aimed at worker productivity.
  • Wildwood is an International Baccalaureate school, with a dedication to global citizenry, international peace, and community activism. Students final creative projects will often resemble community awareness, relief, and support projects aimed at empowering them to participate as members of their world in the here and now.
  • Students will no longer be bound by schools material resources, teacher creativity or knowledge, or national content standards, because the Next Generation Curriculum recognizes that what students most desperately need in order to be successful in the globalized fast-paced market is the tools to create and share innovations based on their understanding of their world’s greatest challenges.

Learn more about the NGLC Regional Fund for Breakthrough Schools program that supported these grantees by visiting the Breakthrough Schools: Chicago grant page.