Fox Hollow Elementary School
The students at Fox Hollow Elementary School didn’t want their time in the Innovation Space to end.
They’d been working with Ozobot, small, programmable robots that follow specific commands and make movements according to specific coding patterns. The class of Fox Hollow second-graders had spent an entire class period making the bots move across colored paths on sheets of paper, and they didn’t want to end their work.
“No!” was the resounding chorus from the students when the teacher announced class was ending. Their session took place in the newly refurbished Innovation Space that had launched at Fox Hollow at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year. With its flexible furniture, open design and easy access to technology, the new space was designed to make lessons rooted in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math more immersive. The new space also closely aligns with the Instructional Excellence priority in Cherry Creek Future Forward, the district’s roadmap to maintaining excellence well into the future.
“We have more room to work with robots and do fun lessons,” said Honor Harris, a second-grader at Fox Hollow. “There’s much more space in the library, and I really like the flexible furniture.”
Creating that sense of excitement when it comes to learning and innovating was the core mission behind Fox Hollow’s new Innovation Space, according to Principal Ashley Gray.
“This new space has allowed us to focus on giving all grade levels a place to learn and collaborate together,” Gray said. “We’re finding different ways to reach out to all of our kids.”
In the new Innovation Space, that effort includes accommodating larger numbers of students. Thanks to its open design and distinct maker spaces, the new Innovation Space at Fox Hollow can host multiple classes from multiple grade levels without feeling crowded. What’s more, the new space includes audio technology to align with the school’s status as a Deaf and Hard of Hearing School.
“The effect has been amazing. Every group of students wants to show off the work they’ve been doing,” Gray noted. “We’re honoring individual students’ needs even as we’re helping them work together.”
Similar spaces have gone 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. This innovative approach to learning is also tied directly to the Instructional Excellence priority in Cherry Creek Future Forward, the district’s roadmap for maintaining educational excellence.
“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,” said CCSD Superintendent Dr. Scott Siegfried. “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.”
"It’s so exciting to see the joy in their faces as they are exploring new ideas. The students are always so excited to tell you what they are working on and how they created it themselves or how they were able to make the robots move. Our students love all of the different robots and being able to program them. I’m proud of the way our stem teachers are allowing our students to have new experiences and creating engaging opportunities for all of our students."
-Principal Ashley Gray