SHW Group has completed the new South Belton Middle School in Belton ISD. The 149,346-sf facility, which opened in August, serves 900 students in grades six through eight and is the district’s first school designed to promote the challenge-based learning model.
SHW Group incorporated specific design features to support the school’s challenge-based learning model, an engaging multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that takes into account the influence that technology has on the lives of today’s students. Both collaborative and hands-on, this learning model encourages students to leverage the technology they use in their daily lives to solve real-world problems.
The school is organized in a series of grade-level pods, which are small learning communities with four classrooms clustered around a multipurpose flex space. Core classes are taught in the pods while the flex space can be used for informal gatherings, group learning opportunities, team teaching and presentations. This layout maximizes teamwork opportunities and helps cross-pollinate students outside of their normal classroom, while optimizing teacher-student interaction. All spaces incorporate expanses of glass to promote transparency and allow students to be inspired by their surroundings.
SHW Group also made strategic design decisions to allow for a flexible learning environment. Classrooms are divided by glass walls, which give teachers the flexibility to switch between collaborative learning and individual study, tailoring the learning environment to specific curriculum and delivery formats.
In addition, architectural elements throughout the building, such as stairs, corridors, roofs and walls are used as instructional components by students and teachers for learning outside the classroom. All walls in the classroom corridors have seven-foot tall marker boards, allowing space for groups to meet and collaborate even outside of a classroom.
The school also is designed to incorporate technological elements important in the challenge-based learning model. Projectors are ceiling hung in all classrooms, science labs, resource rooms, flex spaces, library, and fine arts. Students can plug in a device and discuss their current projects. In addition, all students will have an iPad.