Education is becoming a major challenge not only for the teachers assigned to instruct students but for young scholars that lack sources to effectively engage their learning faculties. Paul F. Bulakowski PhD and Sara Niesen M.A. have seen this occurrence take place for nearly a decade with virtually no solution in sight. Emphasizing that students need material that will allow them to internalize rather than simply memorize, the two teachers have developed the CoreAtlas Learning Program Trilogy. This cutting edge course material allows students to enjoy learning and monitor their progress through an interactive map and guidebook. Paul shared with RPRNmag that these instruments will “helps students learn how to learn…With the CoreAtlas, these powerful tools – a map + guidebook – come together so students can guide themselves through school… and beyond!” Still in its early stages, the CoreAtlas has served over 500 students, gaining recognition from teachers and academic experts while crowdfunding via Indiegogo. Out of its $65,000 goal, it has accumulated $10,154 from 64 backers and still has a month until campaign close.
So what exactly is the CoreAtlas Trilogy? In a nutshell, it is a fun and engaging handbook filled with artwork and creative activity designed for students to critically analyze school problems. Each lesson in the book represents a learning standard/lesson that students accomplish by embarking on a “quest.” This quest is displayed through entertaining comic-book style illustrations that easily and effectively explain how to complete each lesson. Paul felt that making the language of instruction simple was imperative sharing with RPRNmag that, “From K-12 there are over 150 standards, but they are written at a 12th + Grade reading level (COLLEGE!).
Thus, most adults cannot understand what Common Core standards say, never mind the children they are supposed to serve!” There is also a separate map called an “eduscape” displaying a colorful scenery similar to a board game. Throughout the map, there are different markers corresponding to a specific learning standard where students track their progress before advancing on their educational journey. The standards are centered around language arts, science and mathematics and the founders are currently focused on 3rd 4th and 5th-grade learning modules with plans of launching a segment for students even in their senior year of high school. In addition, students also have room in the program to create a standard by embarking on their own journey. Each grade level has its own unique landscape, i.e. under the sea, on land and in deep space, for students to navigate. They have already completed the CoreAtlas Map + Guidebook for 3rd and 4th grade but with support from Indiegogo, hope to wrap up the 5th-grade trilogy.
The CoreAtlas Learning Program has been proven to work by analyzing what is most effective for students and teachers. The primary components that influence a strong learning environment are: self-grading, metacognition, and clarity. Dr. John Hattie, the researcher who discovered these conclusions, supports the ideas of Paul and Sara mentioning, “The CoreAtlas allows for error, which surely is the essence of all learning…A stunning contribution.” By combining a healthy dose of neuroscience and entertainment matched with giving students the responsibility to grade their own work, Paul said to RPRNmag that the CoreAtlas, “sparks the brain’s natural desire to learn.”
By next fall, they plan on having this implemented in over 100 classrooms along with its own web application. Paul hopes to train more critical thinkers to contribute to the social issues that we currently face around the world. With the help of innovative instruments such as the CoreAtlas, Paul added that it “is cultivating a compassionate society of aware, curious, and empowered learners.” We wish them much success.
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