Not quite halfway through the school year, the early grades are in on the New Technology High School at Pinckney Community Schools.In its first year, freshmen and sophomores at the school —one of six across Michigan implementing a modern, project-based curriculum this year — are adjusting well to the program, according to teachers and administrators.Grades have dipped slightly for many students heading into the holidays, said New Technology High SchoolPrincipal Stephen Keskes, but he said that’s typical for students transitioning into the new technology model, which puts a high emphasis on group work and 21st century skills. Teachers too have noticed a decline, but they report students are standing up to the curriculum’s purposely challenging coursework.“It’s all new to the students, they’re learning how to work in groups and they haven’t quite recognized that in group work, slackers can pull you down,” said sci-tech teacher Carrie Kempf. “Now they’re starting to understand what they have to do to change group dynamics. Students are learning that it can’t be the same old way with one student who is the leader and does all the work. Everyone has defined roles.”According to Pinckney Superintendent Dan Danosky, the New Technology High School is a “high school within a high school,” which places a heavy emphasis on project-based learning and group work to teach 21st century learning skills, including critical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork.
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