Is New Tech For You?

During the Huntington North High School (HNHS) administration’s presentation to eighth grade students, New Tech was presented as a program “to meet the needs of all students” and as a “rigorous academic program.” Does it meet the needs of students from academically gifted students to average or struggling students? According to the New Tech Foundation executive summary:

“New Tech is designed to serve students who have struggled with average or below average academic achievement, yet have high potential and positive attitudes.” New Tech Executive Summary, page 1, paragraph 4, (This document has since been removed from the New Tech Foundation’s web site.)

A public meeting for New Tech was held at the HNHS auditorium on December 12, 2008 to introduce the community of Huntington to this new concept. A video of the  New Tech model of teaching was played. One of its recurring themes was:

New Tech’s approach fundamentally changes the role of teacher and student. Instead of the traditional one instructor to many students, teachers become facilitators and coaches who guide students to take charge of their own learning, invent their own solutions and develop self-management techniques.  http://www.newtechnetwork.org/newtech_model

This video was interspersed with comments from teachers such as:

“The students tell us what they need.  It’s not our job to tell them what they need to know.  It is up to them to ask us.”

This may be a concept that is beneficial for some students, but unlikely beneficial in meeting “the needs of all students.”

If you are still unsure, view the following videos taken from the official web sites of New Tech schools when deciding if New Tech is for you.

This video reveals how New Tech students “have to do everything based off computers and with partners;” where they learn how to make videos; learn how to make websites in biology; study video games to improve problem solving skills; learn to do music videos, podcasts, and comic books; create their own knowledge; work in small groups to make new friends. Wow! New Tech is just like a real-world workplace. No wonder why a student would look forward to coming to school every day.

Click on the underlined titles below to view the videos.

New Tech Network School Overview “We have to fundamentally rethink what high school looks like.” “There are more freedoms in the classroom. Students move around. It is not teacher directed.” “It is nice to use a computer any time you want and access the internet as a resource.”

Project Based Learning – Lots of hands-on for math

Why Go to Manor New Tech – No, this video is not a parody of New Tech.

Columbus Signature Academy – A 2½ minute advertisement for CSO Architects – A lot of space for a few students means less space for the majority of the students

New Tech at Zion Benton – At Zion Benton, traditional 3 Rs are replaced with the new 3 Rs: rigor, relevancy and relationships. For being in existence for only one year, Zion makes some bold claims as well as some interesting statements, such as “You will rarely see a teacher standing in front of a class and have students pay attention to a lecture.” “Instead of having to write a boring old essay, on a boring sheet of paper, for a boring old notebook, we have cooler projects. We get to dress up, show presentations, make videos, power points. We get to use our minds a little bit.” “We have got technology. We have our own email addresses. It’s really cool.” “The world around us really is our textbook around here at New Tech.” Does all this sound rigorous?
Claim made by New Tech on this Video: “Da Vinci was the original Renaissance man who amalgamated multiple disciplines to develop his creations. New Tech students do the same.” The truth about DaVinci: DaVinci learned these multiple disciplines by working one-on-one as an apprentice to the greatest minds and masters of his time, not by working as a member of a small group.

http://www.newtechnetwork.org/node/71 – “Sitting there all lonely, working on a problem, bored as can be. Working in groups makes learning extreme.” “Traded our books for computer screens. Now we are learning in groups as teams.” “Do we still get report cards?”  “I brought my pencil. Give me something to write on, man.” Is this why New Tech students’ reading skills erode?

I Am What I Learn: Troy Simon – An inspired video!

Our Time is Coming Now – A music video made by students as a project. It looks like it was a lot of fun to put this together.

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