A “New Tech” Way to Teach and Learn

May 27th, 2011

Category: News

As a former teacher, I know what it’s like to feel the pressure to consistently prepare and perform every day in the classroom. It’s a challenge to present information in a creative way that will captivate the minds of many different kinds of students in just a short class period.  It can be an exhausting task day after day, especially since many students (as well as teachers) have become numb to the traditional format in which most learning is delivered: lecture with limited engagement and, often times, limited resources. For Ms. Dara Laws, this will not be the case anymore. A teacher since 1996 and a former graduate of Seaford High, she will be a part of a change within Seaford High School this fall called Delaware New Tech Academy.

At a recent New Tech Summit, Ms. Laws and many others expressed their anticipation for this new school model, which incorporates Project-Based-Learning (PBL) and technology. It focuses on enhancing 21st century skills such as collaboration, communication, and problem solving techniques through the completion of rigorous projects which are based on real-world situations. In addition, these projects will rely heavily on technology such as computers, smart phones, and tablet computers. Ms. Laws welcomes the use of technology because she feels most students are using it on a daily basis, so incorporating it into the classroom seems necessary to teach students the proper way to manage their research and time. To better prepare students with the technology piece, all incoming Academy freshmen will be required to complete a one credit course in digital media.

Ms. Laws will be one of the new instructors in Delaware New Tech Academy, which will house ninth and tenth graders only in its first year of inception. Going forward, the district is planning for 400 total students with 100 students in each grade. Currently, 122 students have enrolled in Delaware New Tech’s first ninth grade class and 94 students in tenth grade. And to make this opportunity even more substantial, Seaford residents approved a $35 million referendum last week, which will support a new wing to house the Delaware New Tech Academy. The district acquired additional funding from a federal SIG grant and allotted a portion of the district’s allocated Race to the Top funds to establish this program.

It’s no wonder Ms. Laws feels she has never been so excited to teach in all of her 15 years, as Seaford High will become one of 63 schools across the nation and the first in Delaware, to incorporate New Tech. Thanks to the support of a concerned district and voting residents, there will be nothing traditional for her or her students in the classroom this fall!

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Christy Vanderwende



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