Keeping It Real: Attitudes, Privilege and Project

February 15, 2017

SXSW Session:

We tend to talk up diversity but fail to understand what’s not meeting the needs of all students. Ask the experts in public schools that are already changing attitudes, opening hearts and serving students through authentic learning experiences. Project based learning schools can be a lever to close the opportunity gap among disengaged and disenfranchised youth. Big hint: changing school culture starts with shifting mindsets among the adults in the building.


“Moving our high school into a project-based environment and providing technology to the students has given them new opportunities that they have not had in the past. The students are more engaged in their work and are taking more ownership for their learning, both as a part of the class and a part of their collaborative groups.  When attending a basketball game where our girls were competing with a rival school, I was excited to see our freshmen and junior varsity girls sitting in the hallway doing school work on their ChromeBooks during halftime. I applauded their efforts in the hallway and then observed the girls continue with their schoolwork while sitting in the stands for the remainder of the game.”
~ Amber Strawser, Winton Woods High School Assistant Principal

District-Wide School Innovation:

Winton Woods City Schools, Ohio

Winton Woods City Schools has a mission to innovate the education system, district-wide. Learn how they used the New Tech model to spread project-based learning so that all students engage in deeper learning.


Teaching that engages

Project-based learning (PBL) is at the heart of New Tech Network’s (NTN) instructional approach. In PBL, students start each new unit of study with a complex and authentic task to complete. Learning often occurs in integrated subject-area courses, like English and Social Studies, where students collaborate with their peers to investigate a real-world problem. This demands mastery of subject matter content, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, oral and written communication skills, and individual agency (work ethic). The student inquiry process is supported along the way by NTN practices like Entry Events, the Need-to-Know (NTK) process, engaging with content area experts, skill building workshops, and authentic assessment. Projects culminate with the development and presentation of a real-world product, which is evaluated by community experts, educators, and peers.

A key pillar in the New Tech Network model is the use of outcomes that matter to guide our schools’ support of students and their long-term success.The NTN Student Learning Outcomes are a set of research-based outcomes aimed at preparing students for postsecondary college and career success. For each outcome, a rubric or set of rubrics has been developed to help ensure that students are being provided with regular feedback on their growth and needs in each of these areas. These outcome rubrics are an essential component of the project and problem-based learning curriculum and instruction model used by the schools that we support. Our project-based learning management system, Echo, is also designed to allow teachers the ability to provide feedback and support to students across each of these outcomes.

Check out the New Tech Network Rubrics here.

NTN applies a systems perspective to all our design initiatives with schools. Our work in assessment is based on progressively realigning teacher and school assessment practices with the fundamentals of assessment for learning at a pace that can back-fill knowledge, skill, and understanding gaps in instructional practice.

Take a deeper dive into NTN Assessment here. 


About Winton Woods City Schools

We are committed to make Winton Woods City School District a district of choice throughout Southwest Ohio for families, faculty, staff, students, and businesses. Student outcomes will reflect our investments in teacher and parent training by high student achievement. Our ultimate goal is to create an education system designed to teach core subjects integrated with 21st Century themes to ensure that all students graduate both with content knowledge, but also critical thinking & problem-solving skills, creativity & innovation, and the ability to communicate and collaborate effectively.

Quality Education and Opportunities Report


About New Tech Network

New Tech Network, a national non-profit organization, is a leading design partner for comprehensive school change. We work closely with districts and schools to create innovative learning environments. Through a proven school model, a project-based learning platform, and powerful professional development, we coach schools toward lasting change and ongoing improvement.

There are nearly 200 schools in 28 states and Australia in the New Tech Network. Visit a school today!

Learn more about the NTN Annual Outcomes Report