Saturday, May 13, 2017

High Tech High Chula Vista - that's more like it!

When I got picked up from Point Loma on Tuesday afternoon I met a cool Uber driver Francisco Moreno. I told him what I was doing in San Diego and that I had just visited Point Loma High Tech High. I then told him I was visiting the same school in Chula Vista. He was very interested because he lives in that area and went to school in that area. I googled where it was located and he talked about it being a newly developed area but that I would find it more diverse. If you follow me on Facebook you'll realise this chance connection resulted in Francisco taking me Leigh and Shirley on a guided tour of Tijuana and surrounding area later in the week. I hope to keep the connection going with him.

Anyway, he was correct about Chula Vista. While the structure  of the visit was similar (student tour - with just me), free-ranging (maybe better than Point Loma because their three schools were spread across several suburban blocks whereas Chula Vista, like us, is one building), lunch with 2 teachers (this time a neat conversation with both parties contributing) and a fruitful meeting with Lisa a senior leader the vibe of the place was warm and inviting.

My day started with sophmore (Year 10 - our Year 11) student, Iza, taking me throughout the school which is located on the edger of the desert.
Grade Structure

  • 4 grade levels
    • 3 teams per grade
    • 2 classes per team
  • Like Point Loma each grade level took set classes
  • Iza liked this because it allowed teachers to collaborate with their projects
  • Project Based Learning
  • Loosely defined by Stanford Model (Empathise, Ideate, etc) but a project could include anything that looks like an inquiry and does not follow any set process
  • Usually teacher comes up with project idea (has been pitched to colleagues [other teachers in the team] and critiqued and strengthened)
    • sometimes student feedback/input sought into project ideas
  • Project is usually across 2 subjects eg:
    • Engineering/Humanities
      • design and build a haunted house/creative writing of horror stories
    • Chemistry/Humanities
      • study of sustainable, alternative energy culminating in a debate
    • Biology/Humanities (in this case the Biology teacher was an artist)
      • study of anatomy included a piece of visual art accompanied by a spoken word piece

    • Maths/Business
      • Shark Tank - pitch a business and run it

  • Projects mostly result in a product (see above) and also included:
    • Particle Petting Zoo
    • Political Cartoons

    • Steam Punk

  • Seniors (Final Year) could do a Senior Project on anything they liked (required teacher sign off) as long as it had a community aspect.
  • Electives
    • 1 per trimester
    • multi-grade level
    •  some student-led eg
Iza with some work from the Ethnic Studies elective she runs with another student (she will run this each semester for her reamining years at school)

    • anything a teacher wishes to offer eg Peace Leadership League. They started by producing an impressive mural for front of school after a student died to show how bad can become good (this student had found solace in music)

  • Carried out in Junior Year (our Year 12)
    • last 4 weeks of the year
    • pupils spend year planning and selecting
    • often careers based
    • driven by concept of "leave something behind" eg
      • David, who was a Biology enthusiast, secured a placement at National History Museum. He will leave a presentation on what he learned by being involved in the Museum
Goal Setting

  • Not sure how this occured but I assume it happened in Advisories (see below) but liked some of the evidence I saw

  • 30 minutes per day
  • separate grade levels
  • No curriculum but most seemed to follow a pattern of:
    • Monday Management (administration)
    • Tuesday Talk (current issues)
    • Wednesday Worries (Ups and Downs)
    • Thursday ???? (something to do with tracking grades)
    • Friday Free Time (kick a ball, share favourite Youtube channels)
Student Comments
  • love school
  • love hands-on projects
  • love lack of textbooks and little homework
  • some anxiety about are we being prepared for the demands of university (but they know they are)
Teacher Comments
  • Ëvery one teaches like an art teacher"
  • Everything gets messy a lot of the time but we just keep talking
  • "less control but more windows"= less rules etc but lots of visibility and lots of talk and noticing
  • a maths issue
    • a sizeable % do remedial maths at university so now finishing year with lots of revision and uni prep. This is an issue Maths is aware of but still committed to PBL notion
My Noticing
  • student work on display everywhere - largely project outcomes and reflections eg

What did I take away?
  • learning connected across a high-interest project, with hands-on opportunities, and a genuine outcome engages students and leads to great learning
    • 95%+ college placement
  • this model works across the demographics
    • 50% students get free lunch
  • it's ok when things get messy (this is a reminder to myself) as long as all parties keep talking
  • learning in the real world makesit real (lots of expert speakers come in to take classes, exhibitions happen, when possible, in communty [art galleries, parks etc].
  • get more student up (like what we do with the elements of the Learning Design Model)
  • even more convinced of the Learning Design Model we use
  • our use of student voice to help determine contexts is something special
That's it from San Diego. I'm looking forward to my experience at the Science Leadership Academy and Chris Lehmann in Philadelphia on Monday.


Lisa said...

Really cool reflections Maurie. Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

Loving all the learning and work on display Maurie. Looks inspiring!

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