How will learning be different in New Tech? With the Project Based Learning approach, students learn by solving problems and making decisions, rather than just memorizing facts. The projects in Project Based Learning are based on real-world situations. Some are drawn from situations in the local community. As you progress through your projects, you are taught all the academic content and skills appropriate to your grade level, and then immediately apply what you have learned to the challenges of your project.
Is New Tech harder than traditional instruction? As a student in New Tech, you will be graded not just on your content knowledge, but on all of the school-wide learning outcomes. These outcomes reflect real world skills that are necessary to succeed in an authentic work situation. Examples of these skills include collaboration, work ethic, technology literacy, writing skills, speaking skills, and problem-solving. Some students believe that New Tech makes learning easier because they are learning as they discover and apply new skills.
Do we complete group work or individual work? Students will work in teams to produce projects at the end of a unit. Throughout each unit, students have the opportunity to complete activities in partnership with their team as well as on their own. Students will receive grades based on individual as well as group work.
Is all the work on the computer or do we complete tasks outside of technology? Students will utilize technology for research, product creation, collaboration, organization, and many other tasks. However, working with another school, community or business partner may involve face to face meetings, Skype phone calls, and peer work time. Technology will be used as a tool to complete the assigned project or solve the presented problem. There will be many opportunities for students to employ non-technology related strategies to solve problems or present projects.
Will the classroom be different in New Tech? Yes, the New Tech classroom will be very different from the classrooms you are used to. The New Tech classrooms will not have desks. These classrooms will have tables that can be rearranged depending on what type of project or activity you are completing in class. All spaces in the New Tech school will be open and provide the opportunity for many different types of learning, from small group to large presentations.
I am very bored at school. Will New Tech be fun and interesting? Project based learning encourages students to help solve problems and drive their learning by asking lots of questions. As students learn to drive their learning through inquiry, you have the opportunity to sometimes choose the topic you are working on in class as well as what type of project you will complete. Furthermore, the teachers will look to you to help identify ways in which you can help your community solve a problem and be involved with a real project that will be seen by people outside of school.
Will anything else be different about New Tech? Many students in New Tech schools say that their relationships within a New Tech school are like a small family. Teachers and students work side by side and build a culture of trust, respect, and responsibility. Teachers do not lecture students in a New Tech school. Teachers act as coaches who help guide students in the PBL process. Students in a New Tech school enjoy unique freedoms which are a result of increased expectations of the student’s role in a New Tech school.
What are some differences you might see in a New Tech school? Students will have the opportunity to utilize their personal Internet devices to complete work and manage projects. Furthermore, students may collaborate with other students across the New Tech Network, utilizing Skype. In addition, we look for students to establish relationships with business and community members building relationships with people who will support students as they progress through the School of Inquiry.
How will the School of Inquiry differ from a traditional high school? The most important difference is that all New Tech high schools use the instructional approach called Project Based Learning.
How does Project Based Learning work? With the Project Based Learning approach, students learn by solving problems and making decisions, rather than just memorizing facts. The projects in Project Based Learning are based on real-world situations. Some projects are drawn from situations in the local community. As students progress through their projects, they are taught all the academic content and skills appropriate to their grade level, and then immediately apply what they have learned to the challenges of their project.
How are the projects approached? As students get ready to start a new unit in a classroom, teachers lead a discussion about what students already know about the project associated with the unit. Once these areas are identified, the teacher can concentrate on the skills and knowledge students don’t know and plan the discussions and workshops around those missing parts.
How are the projects organized? Students work in groups to complete their projects in different subject areas. At any given time students might be working on multiple projects. Students must develop and practice time-management skills to complete everything they have to do. At the end of each project, student groups present their projects to the class and to outside experts, who may include business leaders from the community or other teachers at the school. While students work in groups, they receive individual grades.
How do students use technology in their classes? New Tech students and teachers use technology to enhance collaboration and communication, just as in the business world. Teachers publish their daily agendas and resources for all students, teachers and parents to access. Students use technology to manage their time and tasks and do everything from research to reading and writing on the computer.
How many New Tech Schools are there? As of August 2011, New Tech has expanded it’s network to 85 New Tech high schools around the country. Indiana is the national leader for New Tech implementation.
How do students keep track of their work and assignments? As of August 2011, New Tech has expanded it’s network to 85 New Tech high schools around the country. Indiana is the national leader for New Tech implementation.
How does a New Tech school work? It depends what you mean by “work.” Students are more motivated to attend a New Tech high school, so attendance improves. Most New Tech schools report few or no dropouts. State test scores increase and New Tech students master skills that will make them successful in college or careers. New Tech has a proven track record of success. Students learn 21st Century Learning Skills such as communication, collaboration,critical thinking, professionalism, digital literacy, work ethic, content knowledge and analyzing sources of information.
Where can I learn more? In addition to the Plymouth High School website, the national New Tech Network has additional videos and information at The New Tech Network.