Studio School is a rigorous learning environment driven by the method of Studio Based Learning (SBL). Studio School students learn by designing. In Studio School, learners propose solutions to ambiguous questions, critique those propositions through judgment from self and others, and iterate their proposals in ever more effective designs.

Brocato & Monson, 2007

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Studio School Project

Studio School 2003-07: Beginnings and early work

Studio School began in 2003 as an idea for a local school-university partnership that would support a small school to serve typically underserved populations in Mississippi. The intentions of the project were to advance change in community and families, promote student growth and performance, improve literacy, and build better teacher practices. From the beginning, these holistic improvements in learning and development were to be achieved through the pedagogy of studio-based learning: a method where masters lead students through real-world questions by designing competent solutions.

This synopsis was compiled by Kay Brocato ©2003-2010

Studio School 2008-09: Pilot classrooms start in Oktibbeha and Noxubee County Schools

Two school districts committed themselves to participating in a Studio School pilot project for 2008-09. Oktibbeha and Noxubee County Schools were dedicated to raising the achievement of under-performing and at-risk students, and increasing student retention through high school. The pilot project for both districts will be designed for seventh and eighth grade students who choose to participate and commit themselves to the half-day studio-based learning program.

The pilot Studio School project will create three classrooms between the two districts: one classroom at B.F. Liddell Middle School in Macon, MS, one classroom at East Oktibbeha County High School in rural Oktibbeha County, and one classroom at West Oktibbeha County High School in Maben, MS. One teacher will act as the lead mentor in the classroom, and the design questions engaged by the students will be focused within that teacher's disciplinary expertise. A number of other teachers will work with the lead mentor teacher to support the design work with content from other required academic subjects.

Since the Studio School classroom is enabled by the guiding and mentoring abilities of the teacher, the first development of the research aspects of the project are focused on teacher development. In July 2008, six teachers from Oktibbeha and Noxubee County Schools participated in four days of professional development activities to prepare for the opening of three Studio School classrooms in spring of 2009. The workshop included observation and engagement with teacher candidate students and architecture students who were applying studio-based learning in their classrooms. The development work was supported by funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the MSU College of Education.

This synopsis was compiled by Kay Brocato & Chris Monson ©2003-2010

The Future of Studio School

Documenting improved student achievement and developing strong studio-based learning teacher practices will demonstrate the benefits and effectiveness of the Studio School method. As a process of learning, the richness of the collaborative design studio environment makes it a very appropriate setting for all academic content. The ultimate goal of the Studio School project is to see the studio-based learning pedagogy applied to a full-day school program. It is expected that the proven accomplishments of Studio School will pave the way for continued exploration of the concept with the support of major grant foundations.

Studio School was originally conceived to be created as a stand-alone program on the MSU campus, where students could engage in design projects with University researchers and community professionals, and benefit from the wide array of mentorship opportunities available. The following model of the all-day, stand alone Studio School was first developed at the beginning of the project as a way of seeing the scope required for this kind of success. These ideas were written by a group of Starkville, Oktibbeha County, West Point, and Mississippi State University community members, and are continually under critique for the purpose of a continually better design for Studio School.

[ Read More about The Future of Studio School ]

This synopsis was compiled by Kay Brocato ©2003-2010

July 28, 2009