Superior Elementary Education

My 10-year-old grandson is a fifth grader at Lakes International Language Academy (LILA) in Forest Lake, Minnesota. LILA, a public elementary school that strongly emphasizes Spanish language immersion, is an International Baccalaureate World School that uses the IB’s Primary Years Programme as its curriculum model.

He recently embarked on an Individualized Learning Program (ILP). In the ILP, the student suggests a topic for investigation to the school’s Enrichment Coordinator, who quizzes the student about what the student already knows about the matter and then determines whether the student appears to be ready to tackle the topic. After approval of the topic, the student conducts research on the topic and then prepares a report on the topic to the student’s class.

My grandson proposed Libya’s current civil war and conflict for his topic. He did so because he regularly follows national and international news in the newspapers and on the radio and knew about the recent uprisings in the Middle East, including Libya, and he wanted to learn more. The Coordinator asked him questions about Libya and concluded that he already knew a lot about the situation and that he could proceed with the ILP on Libya.

His further research about Libya was done by reading the local newspaper and doing Google Internet searches. He also obtained information from “This American Life” on Minnesota Public Radio. He then started preparing a PowerPoint presentation on Google docs that allows the Coordinator to review his progress. My grandson has entitled his presentation “Libyan Civil War and Revolts–NATO Coalition Bombing.”

The ILP has enabled him to learn more about the current situation in Libya, to practice and improve his skills at Google searching and other research, English language writing and oral presentations. Doing all of this independently with modest supervision, he said, “made me happy.”