News and Speeches

Groundbreaking "School of One" is Prototype for 21st Century Instruction


Two-Month Pilot Program Uses Technology to Transform Students’ Classroom Experience

    Chancellor Joel I. Klein today visited the School of One, a first-of-its-kind summer school pilot program that uses technology to provide students with highly individualized and innovative classroom instruction. The School of One pilot program combines traditional teacher-led instruction with cutting-edge instructional software like virtual tutors and other tools that customize instruction to meet each student’s academic needs and learning style. The School of One pilot program is part of NYC21C, a research and development project launched at the NYC iSchool in spring 2009 with the goal of innovating instructional practices to help schools better prepare students for careers in the 21st century. The two-month pilot program is being held in the summer school of M.S. 131 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. 

    The School of One pilot program departs from the traditional classroom model. Rather than one teacher and 25-30 students in a classroom, each student participates in a combination of teacher-led instruction, one-on-one tutoring, independent learning, and work with virtual tutors. To organize this type of learning, each student receives a unique daily schedule based on her academic needs and recent progress. As a result, students within the same school or even classroom can receive very different instruction, each lesson tailored to the concepts a student needs to learn and the ways she can best learn them. Teachers acquire data about student achievement each day and then adapt their lessons accordingly.

    “Particularly in New York City, where students arrive at our schools from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, with different skill sets and skill levels, we must offer students instruction that meets their individual needs,” Chancellor Klein said. “The innovation at the School of One represents some of the most exciting and promising work being done in education today.”

    “Cisco is pleased to be a part of the School of One initiative, which highlights New York City’s commitment to creating successful 21st century learning environments,” said Michael Stevenson, Cisco vice president of global education. “Cisco strongly believes that our education systems are in need of holistic transformation in order to arm students with the skills required in today’s global environment. The School of One’s innovative approach and use of collaborative technologies, coupled with improved educator development and curricular and assessment reform, is a roadmap for change that is working.”

    “The world has changed dramatically over the past century, and using technology to expand learning opportunities for students is both necessary and promising,” said Joel Rose, the founder of the School of One. “Our hope is to provide teachers with a powerful tool that enables them to meet the needs of each student and allows them more time to focus on the quality of instruction.” 

    “The potential for School of One is enormous,” said M.S. 131 Principal Phyllis Tam. “My teachers are always looking for better ways to personalize their instruction, especially given all of the student data we now have available. School of One not only makes that possible, but it allows teachers to spend more time focusing what they do best – creating and delivering great lessons for kids. School of One has challenged my thinking on how technology can enhance the role of teachers by extending learning beyond the four walls of a traditional classroom.” 

    The School of One is supported by a generous grant from Cisco to The Fund for Public Schools, as well as by a prominent network of partners, including Wireless Generation, the Parthenon Group, and many others. The expansion of the program will be contingent upon funding considerations, but the School of One model is expected to be implemented in selected schools for the 2009-10 school year.