Preparing students for 21st Century careers means creating learning environments that are engaging and challenging. New York’s Ballston Spa Central School District and PAST Innovation Lab are doing just that.
This summer, 72 students from 11 different high schools joined together to begin the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) program at the Clean Technologies & Sustainable Industries Early College High School in Malta, NY. P-TECH is a program where students complete their high school education as well as a two-year college degree in clean energy, computer science, advanced technology, or entrepreneurship.
PAST began working with teachers earlier in the year, bringing the concepts of transdisciplinary problem-based learning (TPBL) to them through the P3 Introduction to TPBL, an online course that includes podcasts and virtual meetings. Teachers learned the skills they will need to challenge students to solve real-world problems by developing critical thinking skills.
The week-long P-TECH program began with team building exercises, creating partnerships among students, teachers, and community organizations who served as subject experts. With a focus on Habits of the Mind, each student began to understand how their individual learning style influences outcomes. Then it was Game On! Students worked together to begin solving a difficult problem facing many people: how to create effective communication among peers.
Students worked on projects that helped them develop the skills necessary to resolve the problem. Each student created their own story as a Public Service Announcement, which they story-boarded, filmed, edited, and, on the last day, presented. Throughout the week they honed their technology, research, communication, presentation, and inter-personal relationship skills. All along, PAST staff were there to coach teachers and students through this exciting learning experience.
For these students, the journey has really just begun. They will go back to their home schools, teachers, classes and friends. They will, however, be involved in ongoing P-TECH classes. As a group they agreed on their first quarter wicked problem: how are we going to communicate with each other long-distance. They determined objectives for study that include sharing resources, diversity, and overcoming technology failures – all challenges businesses face everyday.
PAST is proud to partner with Ballston Spa Central School District, and will continue to offer support. This program is one of the ways that PAST Innovation Lab is transforming education.