Teachers or Proctors?

Mill Creek Middle School makes drastic changes through introduction of an online-based class program

By Nick LeBlanc

During the summer, the middle school made significant changes to students’ curriculum.  Now, instead of the traditional teacher led classes, classes at the middle school aren’t teacher led, they’re computer led.

This new style of class, which is called Summit Basecamp, is inspired and partially funded by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, and Summit Learning.  The goal this new program is to allow students to take control of their own learning and learn at their own pace.  Rather than having teachers assign work, the curriculum allows students to pick their own projects, leading to less student-teacher interaction.  The goal behind the new classes is to encourage development of important skills like time management and responsibility.  Such skills are deemed to be important for college.  However, despite the benefits, the new curriculum could clash with the traditional curriculum at Dexter High School.

“The positive and the negative with this new program is that students can set their own pace,” Assistant Principal Ken Koenig said. “It’s a positive because students can learn on their own pace, but it’s also a negative because if the pace that the student has is too slow then they will not complete the course within the school year.  This might lead them to have to retake the course at the high school due to the fact that we don’t abide by their style of curriculum.”

Despite this, Mill Creek Middle School Principal, Jamie Bronson, has been looking to implement these type of classes for a while.

“Mill Creek has worked for the past several years to create programs that allow more real world application, self directed learning and personal learning plans,” Bronson said.

To create a self directed learning program, Mill Creek teachers underwent training during the month of June to better understand the Basecamp platform.  In addition, the administration at the Middle School has spent countless hours over the summer working on the curriculum and setting up logistics for the program.  The work done on the program during the summer has led to the creation of classes that current 7th and 8th grade students are going through now.

“It’s quite a dramatic shift in teaching and learning,” Bronson said. “It’s a platform where there are some activities students can work at their own pace but also teacher instruction on projects and concept units.”

This change led to a change in the technology offered as well.  Over the summer, to make the classes possible, the middle school purchased new chromebook laptops.  Despite the implementation of the new system, not all classes offered at the middle school are based off of the Summit Basecamp program.

The work done over the summer has created something that the administration at Mill Creek is excited about.  The opportunities the new Summit Basecamp program claims to possess is something the District of Dexter hasn’t seen before.

“Basecamp is so much more than I can put in a single interview,” Bronson said. “Kids are doing great and teachers love the mentor aspect of the program.”