Hanover teachers use $27,500 to create classrooms of the future

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- Welcome to classrooms of the future. Stonewall Jackson Middle School teacher Melissa Larimer is one of two winners of a $27,500 grant used to transform classrooms into innovative and creative learning spaces.

"When [students] think about history, they think about memorizing things," Ms. Larimer said. "That's not the way I want to teach.  I want the kids up, engaged, and being active learners."

She remodeled her history classroom into a collaborative technology town. Tablets replace textbooks. Webcams and virtual reality glasses replace chalkboards.

It makes learning about the Pueblo Indians more fun for students like Josh Wyatt.

"It's like I just flew to Arizona in three seconds," he said.

Hanover Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Gill introduced the classrooms of the future initiative earlier this year.

"The idea really was to allow teachers to dream big," Dr. Gill said.  "To do the things with their classrooms they'd like to do."

Eliza Gimmell, a teacher at South Anna Elementary, used her grant money to transform lessons with technology.

iPads and robots are used in lessons on the environment and problem solving. They also built an interactive outdoor area for lessons about the environment.

“We let them have a lot of voice and choice in this process," Ms. Gimmell said. "They do a lot of project-based things where we don’t have, necessarily, a vision of how it’s going to turn out.  We just make sure the process is full of learning as they go."

Building classrooms of the future is building better minds.

Building Better Minds airs Wednesday on CBS 6 News.