I lived in Virginia for most of the seventies, open classrooms, contracts, and individual learning were the trends. While in Fredericksburg, I attended a Catholic school and the Stafford County school system. The Albemarle County School district was where I attend schools in Charlottesville. I went from the last quarter of Fifth Grade to completing ninth grade.
I loved being in the open space without walls. The teachers would move the dividers for a variety of activities, including watching movies on a movie projector. A movie was a BIG step from a film strip and watching the film backwards was a hit. Today's generation does not know what they are missing. The best memory that I have is from sixth grade at Burley Middle School. It was Christmas and one section started singing carols, and then it moved through the rest of the building. Looking back on it, I see the precursor to the wave. As a substitute teacher the appeal of an open classroom was diminished. My son's former elementary school, built as an open classroom, had "walls" built back in. His middle school is in the process now.
I completed a lot of contracts starting in the fifth grade in Fredericksburg. A long term assignment was presented. After learning the details of the assignment, you would contract to receive a particular grade. If you met the criteria, you would receive the contracted grade.
Individualized learning was also a strategy. As a teacher, I find this the best way to teach anyone. When I entered fifth grade at Hollymead Elementary School, I was tested in Math. I was taught the skills that I needed more practice to become proficient. Language Arts followed the same format. We learned about punctuation and writing by writing. I had an advantage as my teacher in Fredericksburg gave us morning drills of identifying parts of speech. Then we would review each others writing. The last assignment was to write a play, then we performed the play.
The only "fad" of the seventies that should be kept and utilized is teaching to the student's needs and interests. Learning was so much fun that way and can be for most students.