High Tech High students, teachers and directors explain the thinking behind doing projects.
To hear more from teachers and students, watch the High Tech High Design principles video.
[MUSIC PLAYING] Kids are different. They’re unique. They bring to the table their own experiences and perspectives. They have their own strengths and weaknesses, and they have so many different talents. And because of that, I believe they all learn in very different ways.
The project that engages students in inquiry, observation, reflection, multiple drafting of findings, peer review, and public sharing of work when the work is authentic.
Because when you’re doing something that you care about or something that matters, you push yourself more to grow in all of your skills.
Coming into an environment where there’s a lot of responsibility but there’s also a lot of freedom, I really enjoy it because I’m able to experiment with things that I’m curious about, but also integrating all the subjects that we’re learning about and actually putting that into something that I can use and retaining that information more.
You get to do real-life work. You get to interact with a lot of people who do that work.
The artistry of teaching is casting as wide a net as possible to grab as many kids as you can and then knowing your kids really, really well to try to re-engage those kids that you miss.
And I think adolescents are pretty unique and amazing in their drive to make the world a better place and more just equitable free world for all of us. And so I think when students, when you tap into that passion in that drive, it really motivates students to do work that matters, that has an impact, and to do work that is at a professional level.
Not only are you learning all the concepts, you’re applying it too. You’re applying it to real life. So instead of sitting in a chemistry room and just listening to the teacher talk about all these formulas and stuff and doing experiments and stuff, we’re actually applying it to real-life concepts like rockets, where we’re designing their fuel source, figuring out why it works based on what we see essentially.
In projects, we’re trying to ask the right questions. And we don’t necessarily know the answer, and we don’t always know how to get there. We have to figure that out.
Projects also give students multiple ways to shine and show their strengths. So students can show up in ways that you wouldn’t anticipate or expect in a normal traditional way of doing school. So for instance, you might have a student that’s an amazing leader in a group, and they can really shine in that way while also working on their skills in, say, writing or editing. And it really showcases that diversity of both strengths and needs instead of having just one monolithic way to do it.
Doing projects allows us to show students and allow students to come to understand that our discipline, whether it’s English language, arts, or math, or biology, offers a powerful lens for understanding the world.
They’re just more valued overall, I think from all the stakeholders, not just the students and the teachers, but parents and community members are just more invested in the work and want to support that work when they know that it’s something real and not just, hey, we’re going to read this and we may or may not use this ever again in our lives.