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Sycamore High To Unveil Innovative Classroom Renovations

science wing renovations Sycamore High School students will find new innovative classroom spaces when they return to school on August 15.

The high school underwent $2.6 million in renovations this summer to bring the Science Department up to 21st-century curriculum standards. A total of eight classrooms and labs were completely reconfigured and fitted with new technology and equipment.

“Our renovation will drastically improve our delivery of curriculum and the engagement of our students,” said Sycamore High School Principal Doug Mader. “The state of the art facility will help students fine-tune their executive functioning skills while taking personal ownership of their learning and enhance the abilities they need for their future work lives, preparing them for 2030 and beyond.”

The high school also added collaborative space in the Science wing for students to interact in groups on projects.

“The Collaborative spaces, small group rooms, and mini-labs give us flexibility in instruction including project-based learning,  personalized learning, and differentiation,” said Julie Haverkos, Sycamore High School science teacher. “We can better prepare our students for college and careers with state of the art laboratories and technology.”

The high school’s former Little Theater was converted into space to accommodate the 100 students who enrolled in Sycamore’s new Synnovation Lab, a first-of-its-kind self-paced personalized learning program for students Grades 9-10. The goal is to get students to engage in authentic learning to deepen their understanding and prepare for life in the modern workplace.

“Students will be assessed on the mastery of standards, advancing to the next course based on their understanding of the content rather than a timeline,” said Ashley Warren, assistant principal. “They will be able to move through classes faster if that is appropriate or slow that pace down.”

Synnovation Lab students will not have a bell schedule, giving students greater freedom of choice and ownership of learning. Students will still participate in traditional high school activities, including electives and AP courses outside of the Synnovation Lab.

“Personalized learning places each student at the center of their own learning journey,” said Greg Uland, Synnovation Lab math teacher. “Students will use technology, mentoring from an expert or peers, to complete their journey with the rigor and pace that is right for them.”

Six teachers from each core content area will serve as activators, motivators, and mentors for students rather than being at the center of instruction. Students will be required to frequently check in with Synnovation Lab teachers to monitor progress and achievement.

“I think it is really great for students and I wanted to be a part of it,” said Breen Reardon, Synnovation Lab English teacher. “The flexibility of the schedule, the pacing, the individual nature of the work-- I think a lot of students are going to respond to it.”

Synnovation Lab students will also be enrolled in a project-based learning course throughout the entire year. This course will drive a real-world project inspired by student interest or passion.

The total cost for renovating the Synnovation Lab is $230,000. The school plans to open up the program to Grades 9-12 as new classes of students arrive at the high school. Applications from the 2019-2020 school year will be accepted in Fall 2018.

Sycamore High School will host a Sneak Peek of the new classroom spaces on August 13 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.