Elearning! September

2014

Elearning! Magazine: Building Smarter Companies via Learning & Workplace Technologies.

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32 September / October 2014 Elearning! Learning! 100 High Tech Academy (HTA) consists of a group of schools in and around San Di- ego whose students produce the required outcomes — but the depth of their knowledge has proven to far exceed that of most traditional high school students. Tis charter school's collaborative learn- ing process was what earned it a premier position in the public sector portion of this year's Learning! 100. Te school's founder and CEO is Larry Rosenstock, an ex-carpenter-cum-attorney from the East Coast who moved to South- ern California to run the Price Charitable Fund. Having previously worked in very traditional high schools in Cambridge, Mass., he had a good idea of what he felt didn't work with urban high schools. At High Tech Academy, you will never fnd students separated based on academic ability and/or those deemed "good with their hands." Both knowledge and skills are seen as important, and both are nurtured. As soon as the frst school flled up in 2000, the school's board approved an- other. And another. In the past 13 years, new schools have opened at the rate of one per year. School graduation rates are 100 percent. Almost 100 percent go to college, with an average of 80 percent completing four-year university pro- grams. And 35 percent of students are the frst in their family to go to college. SCHOOL CULTURE Students are very proud of their work, which is unusual in this day and age. And "work" is the operative word. Rath- er than conventional classrooms, there are workshops or studios. Student work is on display everywhere, largely because High Tech Academy's main vehicle for learning is "the project." Te organization is probably one of the world's leading proponents of project-based learning (PBL), which — in the hands of expert practitioners — works, because it's what most adults do for a living: We have a need, a client, some complex questions to answer, and we come up with a collaborative solu- tion, all within a time frame. Te student projects at High Tech High are usually located "out there" in the community. Some instances: >> A project for the San Diego Blood Bank raises awareness of the need to donate blood. >> A DNA bar-coding system identifes illegally-traded meat from protected animals in Tanzania. >> Te San Diego Bay Study has been a 10-year project that has produced books with forwards written by con- servationist Jane Goodall. >> Numerous gardens have been built. >> Other miscellaneous research fnd- ings have been produced. SPECIFIC HTA GOALS ARE: >> Serve a student body that mirrors the ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of the local community. >> Integrate technical and academic education to prepare students for post-secondary education in both high tech and liberal arts felds. >> Increase the number of education- ally disadvantaged students in math and engineering who succeed in high school and post-secondary education. >> Graduate students who will be thoughtful, engaged citizens. GOALS FOR HRA CENTRAL ORGANIZATION ARE: >> Support the development of excellent schools based on the HTA design principles. >> Become a self-sustaining central or- ganization conducting "behind the whiteboard" management practices that are as exemplary as the "in front of students" programs ofered at HTA schools. Inspire and enable others in the public education community to adopt the HTA design principles and instructional practices. High Tech Academy is a frst-time Learning! 100 honoree. Project-Based Learning at High Tech Academy Is a Collaborative Success AREA OF EXCELLENCE C U LT U R E

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