Meadow Point Elementary School
On a Wednesday morning toward the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, students at Meadowpoint Elementary were creating digital avatars and learning about cyber-safety. A fourth-grade class headed by technology teacher Dustin Vick was taking full advantage of the school’s new innovation space, a learning area equipped with cutting-edge technology, interactive workspaces and an emphasis on 21st-century skills. Students created their digital look-alikes on tablet computers, and Vick guided them through the more complicated parts of the process on an interactive white board set up at one end of the space.
In other parts of the space, younger students sat in circle for story time, while Meadow Point fourth-graders interacting in small groups of three and four took up spots at a wrap-around bar that would look at home in a trendy coffee bar.
The wide range of learning spaces and styles in Meadowpoint’s Innovation Space launched at the beginning of the year, but it’s already having an impact.According to 4th-grade teacher Misty Maez, the new space accommodates all kinds of learners, even as it encourages interaction, teamwork and individual reflection time.
“It’s a learning space that works for them,” said 4th-grade teacher Misty Maez. “We’re able to come in to this space, spread out and use all of these tools,” she said, adding that the new tools and technology have been instructive for students and teachers alike. “I’m learning from the kids even as they’re learning from me.”
Meadowpoint Principal Tom McDowell pointed to the benefits that teachers and staff have already seen from the Innovation Spaces. What was once a separate library, art room and classroom has turned into a place where collaboration, teamwork and critical thinking thrive.
“You can have more kids doing more things in the same space,” McDowell said. “The students come together, receive instruction and go find the spaces that they wanted to use. You can see the kids pull up next to each other, show each other what they’re doing. They get ideas from each other.”
Jack Shapiro, a 9-year-old fourth-grader, was one of the students who took advantage of the space’s open format during the digital avatar lesson. “We’re cartooning ourselves on tablets,” Shapiro said. “This new space is awesome, magnificent and calming.”
Similar spaces will go up in every elementary and middle school in the Cherry Creek School District, and came through funding approved by voters in 2016. The spaces are designed to develop skills like collaboration, inquiry, empathy, problem-solving, curiosity, innovative thinking and passion. According to the latest academic research, as well as firsthand input from parents, teachers and other members of the CCSD community garnered during the Cherry Creek 2021 initiative, these are the skills that are integral to preparing students for a 21st-century academic and professional landscape.
“We worked with business, we worked with industry and we worked with colleges when we created the focus of what our innovation spaces would be. The goal is helping our students become critical thinkers,” Siegfried said. “We want them to use knowledge in different ways, and we want them to learn to effectively learn to work with other people.”
Siegfried added that every innovation space was designed to meet the unique needs of every separate school and community. “One of the greatest parts of our innovation work is allowing every school, every principal, every student and every community to be engaged in what innovation should look like at their school,” Siegfried said. “This is the next iteration of excellence.”
"These spaces will be a dynamic and collaborative place where children recognize the contributions of their teammates and care about the success of their friends."
-Principal Tom McDowell