George Lucas Educational Foundation

Schools That Work| Case Study

Birmingham Covington School

Grades 3-8 | Bloomfield Township, MI

School-Wide Problem Solvers

This school develops students who can tackle any problem and direct their own learning using skills such as science literacy and design thinking.
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What This School Is Achieving

photograph of student and teacher working on a project

Student-directed learning is at the heart at Birmingham Covington School, a suburban school of choice in Michigan. In a class called Thinkering Studio, students choose projects to pursue based on their passions, while in science literacy, they work in groups to research and solve real-world science problems in their community. Problem solving is interwoven into every class at this school for grades 3 through 8—instead of relying on their teachers when they need help, students turn to each other. The culture of collaboration and continual learning extends to the teachers as well—they visit each other’s classrooms and reflect on improving practice together.

  • Consistently outperforms the district and state on the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) in ELA, math, social studies, and science.
  • Recognized as a Microsoft Mentor School in 2014.
  • Students experience accelerated achievement in math, and graduates regularly place into honors geometry in high school.
photograph of student and teacher working on a project

How They Do It

Young students are working at tables in a large multipurpose room with large colorful-shaped decorations hanging from the ceiling.

Birmingham Covington: Building a Student-Centered School

Educators take on the role of guides and motivate students to direct their own learning.

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Science Literacy: Sparking Curiosity and Solving Real-World Problems

Sparking Curiosity and Solving Real-World Problems

See how students apply their literacy skills to explore science problems outside classroom walls.

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Developing Independent Learners: Guiding Students to Be More Resourceful

Developing Independent Learners: Guiding Students to Be More Resourceful

When you empower students to be classroom experts, they learn to become resources for each other.

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Teacher Labs: Making Professional Development Collaborative

Teacher Labs: Making Professional Development Collaborative

Watch the magic that happens when educators observe each other teaching and then reflect together.

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Thinkering Studio: Supporting Self-Directed Learning

Thinkering Studio: Supporting Self-Directed Learning

Watch students take charge of their project-based learning, by creating their own learning goals and identifying resources beyond their teacher.

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Design Thinking: Prioritizing Process Skills

Design Thinking: Prioritizing Process Skills

Watch kids become master problem solvers and collaborators by designing, building, and iterating on prototypes.

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