What is it?
With MicroSociety, school is society, a thriving, modern-day, mini-metropolis—complete with a government center, entrepreneurial hub, non-profit organizations, consumer marketplace, University and community gathering spaces—created and managed by students and facilitated by teachers and community mentors. It is the place where students are empowered to disrupt the status quo. It is learning at the highest end of Bloom’s Taxonomy learning objectives – application, synthesis, analysis and creativity. Student responsibilities and activities occur within seven MicroSociety Strands, each intentionally designed to connect societal activity and real world endeavors to standards-correlated academic content while making school relevant to kids’ lives. Contrary to traditional academic disciplines which have no immediate application to daily life, the Strands – Technology, Economy, Academy, Citizenship and Government, Humanities and the Arts and HEART – are based on the professions and create a practical relationship between knowledge and experience.
How does it work?
Learning in a MicroSociety school occurs across four domains. During the classroom instructional part of the day, the job of each MicroSociety citizen is to build content area knowledge and develop the soft and hard skills, processes, and habits of mind needed to thrive in the other domains. Students spend six weeks in Micro Academy exploring citizenship and the building blocks of community. They write resumes and interview for jobs of their choice before receiving training at Micro University. Ultimately, students move from theory to application and for one period a day begin the process of creating and managing their own small town. Together, students face real challenges that arise, experiment with different strategies for addressing them, and embrace failed attempts at risk taking until new solutions are discovered. In turn, these real world connections provide a meaningful rationale for classroom learning. As students innovate and devise novel approaches for governing and new economic development solutions to keep their economy thriving, they convince skeptics of their potential which in turn builds trust. Over the course of the school year, the society becomes progressively more sophisticated and students grow into aware and responsible global citizens, and dynamic collaborators and communicators.
Redefining School: Key Features of the Modern Day MicroSociety School
Key features of the modern MicroSociety model include:
- Adjusting use of time by adapting the schedule to include one period of common "Micro time" for cross generational, hands-on learning.
- Redesigning the learning space by adapting classrooms and hallways into storefronts, community gathering spaces and a government center.
- Making classroom instruction relevant and interdisciplinary by expanding the depth and breadth of curriculum and connecting it to real world endeavors.
- Creating authentic use of learning opportunities so that children connect school to life and to their futures, practicing critical thinking skills, creative problem solving and collaborative learning and reinventing themselves as achievers.
- Transforming the power structure at every level by changing the role of teachers as managers of instruction and facilitators of deeper thinking and expanding the roles and responsibilities of students to be producers, creators, contributors and decision makers.
- Building and managing cross generational and industry mentors so that everyone participates in the circulation of knowledge between adults and children because it takes everyone’s ideas and information to help schools stay current and through apprentice-ship activities help children stay engaged and informed.
- Personalizing learning by overlaying each child’s academic knowledge and skills on MicroSociety activities so that young people discover their passions and practice them every day.
“MicroSociety is extremely valuable in a global economy that recognizes individual achievement in terms of innovation, team building, critical thinking, cultural adaptability and job flexibility. Everything is done through the core curriculum. By establishing a center of commerce and governance in which every child and adult participate, students become aware of their interests and aptitudes for certain occupations; they plan and prepare for the opportunities they will seek in high school for becoming work- and college- ready upon graduation."
Sandy Garrett - State Superintendent, Oklahoma