Local ‘hands-on’ charter school gets creative with their plans for virtual school in fall

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – A charter middle school in La Crosse that basis much of its learning on hands-on experience is having to adapt to the upcoming changes to the school year. La Crosse Polytechnic, formerly known as the La Crosse Design Institute is getting ready to go online.

“Really it’s not limiting, it’s more liberating,” said Garrett Zimmerman, principal of La Crosse Polytechnic.

La Crosse Polytechnic is known for its hands-on curriculum that makes students think outside the box.

“We’re constantly asking our students to push themselves in new directions, and now I feel I’m placed in that same, that same vein,” said Maggie McHugh, advisor at La Crosse Polytechnic.

The school year will begin online, but the school still plans to keep students engaged in project-based learning.

“Yes, it’s hands on, but we can make it where the students are still taking ownership from wherever they are,” said Zimmerman.

“I’ve been creating games for our online advisory, you can do things like charades and whatnot,” said McHugh.

Advisors are being extra creative, and planning lessons that incorporate household items, like paper towel rolls..

“Exploring geometric knots. So I just quickly cut out the paper towel roll and you can see I can pull this knot in various fashions,” said McHugh. “I can make a knot of three and we’ll be talking about sequences and patterns and it’s something the students have right on hand.”

Despite the physical challenges, advisors say virtual learning will teach soft skills too.

“It will make the students become problem solvers. It’ll make them become really creative. And that’s what we need in our society,” said McHugh.

The polytechnic school already provides computers and iPads to their students, and will continue doing that for virtual learning this fall.