Walk into Roots Elementary and you’ll quickly see that it’s not your average school. Rather than classrooms of 30 students being taught the same material by one teacher, each Roots student works with a teacher to develop a personal learning plan. The students then spend much of their day in an open, flexible learning space dubbed “The Grove,” where they participate in different learning activities work on independent and collaborative projects aligned to their learning plans. Teachers pull aside individual students or small groups for lessons and mentoring throughout the day. It’s a highly personalized approach aimed at empowering students to direct their own learning.
Since opening in Denver in 2015, Roots has welcomed 86 kindergarten and first-grade students: 88 percent are children of color and 82 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. And after just one year in operation, Roots’ students and families are already excited to spread the word: When asked how likely, on a scale of 1 to 10, they were to recommend the school to a friend, 87 percent gave a score of 9 or higher.