High Tech High, founded in 1999, is a charter school in San Diego, CA. We spent three days there attending a Fall Residency that introduced us to the philosophy and application of their cutting edge, project based learning (PBL) curriculum. I have to say, the energy we encountered in the student body was palpable. Students were engaged in all kinds of multimedia, hands-on tasks, with the ultimate goal being their specific classes project exhibition in the community. We witnessed everything from creating original artistic chairs, to building a hovercrafts, to designing and producing solar cell phone chargers for students in Kenya. The common elements we observed in every classroom were high levels of student engagement and learner choice, as well as student voice and products of the absolute highest quality.
The teachers at HTH work with an extremely diverse population, and the school boasts a college admittance rate of 100%. These students are prepared for the future workplace because they have the real world skills of problem solving, creativity and work-ethic. The technology in their school doesn't stand out because it is everywhere, threaded into every classroom, as needed. Students are proficient on all sorts of software, and can apply their skills in every situation. These teachers work very hard, creating original projects year after year, but they are rewarded by the products their students generate. The joy kids experience in learning is evident on their faces... truly inspiring.
"It was amazing to see the quality of student work at High Tech High. Exhibitions of student work permeated every space of the school helping to create an atmosphere of creativity and innovation. I also loved the teacher culture of collegial conversations and collaboration."
"After spending three days at the campuses of High Tech High I walked away impressed and ready to incorporate some of what I saw at the Upper School. The most overwhelming image that I left HTH with was the demonstration of student work. I am very interested in increasing the amount of student work that is on display at the Upper School. Not just art and photography, but any visual representations of what our kids are learning. I was also very impressed with the idea of Presentations of Learning or Exhibitions of Learning. I think that the opportunity to bring in parents and other community members to listen to our students describe what they have been working on in school is a powerful idea. Our students work very hard at what they do and increasing the audience with whom they share that work would be of great benefit. Seeing how integrated technology was into the students' repertoire of skills was very impressive. While computers were all around, it was the student’s ability to use different software/programs to express their knowledge that I found fascinating."
For examples of student projects created at High Tech High follow this link: High Tech High Projects