FWCS Magnet Schools Series: New Tech Academy
Dec18

FWCS Magnet Schools Series: New Tech Academy

As the second largest city in Indiana, Fort Wayne naturally has an abundance of schools to encompass the immense populations—especially since (as of 2013) children ages 0-17 made up 26.4%  of the population. Whatever level of school you’re looking for, Fort Wayne has plenty of options with over 90 elementary, intermediate, middle, and high schools combined. With a city this large, Fort Wayne has the opportunity to offer an educational advantage that many other cities can’t—magnet schools. What is a magnet school, you ask? Simply put: magnet schools offer specialized education in different areas that give its students a competitive advantage and prepare them for whatever it is they choose to pursue post-high school. Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS) offers residents seven magnet school options. One of the newest and most unique options is the New Tech Academy. New Tech Academy focuses on incorporating STEM discipline into the curriculum—that’s science, technology, engineering, and math—under a project-based approach. I know what you’re thinking, we keep hearing about this “project-based” learning approach. I concede; it’s definitely become a buzzword. But here’s the thing… project-based learning works, especially from a multi-disciplinary approach. Students at New Tech don’t sit through classroom lectures. In fact, they never even sit in rows facing the front of the room. Students sit in cohorts of four or five most of the time, which is the average group number for their projects. Not only is New Tech applying a STEM based academic experience in a collaborative environment, but they are also providing students with another unique experience: an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to standard courses that they are traditionally required to take. Again, I know what you’re thinking… what does it all actually mean when put into practice? I had the pleasure of meeting with Jason Beer, a 9th/10th grade English teacher from New Tech Academy. To put these concepts into perspective, let me tell you a little about one of Jason’s classes. Jason co-teaches his 9th graders a collaborative class on English and Geography. You’re probably thinking exactly what I thought… How do you teach English AND Geography in one class? Projects are assigned to the students based on the content of the course, and the formation of the project is based on different standards that vary per English outcomes. The students are introduced to class through an online information management system (similar to that of Blackboard, if you’re familiar with that) detailing the schedule for the period. The teachers of these courses let the students self-direct the remaining 100 minutes of class while serving as resources, offering scheduled but voluntary workshops for any issues or questions they think may arise. Jason...

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