El Paso Herald
Starting this school year, students at this South Side elementary school will be the first in the nation to tackle innovative project-based learning with a focus on dual-language education.
More than 200 students at Hart last week kicked off the first year of the New Tech Network presence at the school. Hart is only the second elementary school in Texas to adopt the project-based learning program and the first in the country to couple that style of teaching with a dual-language focus.
“We’re changing the way we teach … the way our students learn is going to be different and more effective,” principal Angelica Negrete said. “Students and parents are going to see a big difference in the classroom — from how the room physically looks to how instruction happens in small groups. The whole thing is innovative and forward-thinking.”
The Hart pipeline into New Tech programs at Guillen Middle School and Bowie High School creates EPISD’s first K-12 pathway for project-based learning.
The creation of the New Tech program at Hart was made possible through a transformation grant the District received last school year. Since then, Negrete and District officials have been working with teachers and even some students to get ready for the full implementation of the program.
Some students say they already can see a difference in the way they are learning.
“I think we can communicate better with our classmates and research on our MacBooks we are going to get,” said fifth-grade student Derek Montanez. “I think it’s better in New Tech because we can engage in learning in a different way.”
Fifth-grader Megan Quian agrees and is looking forward to thriving in New Tech at Hart and then Guillen.
“It’s a lot more fun because in the old class we had to use paper and pencils, but it’s a lot more fun to use new technology,” she said. “We will have more experience with laptops.”
The New Tech model focuses on five learning outcomes: oral communication, written communication, collaboration, knowledge and thinking and agency.
“What makes New Tech different is not only do we teach the standards like every school in the country, but we focus on these learning outcomes and really encourage students to take ownership of their learning,” said Scott Grey, New Tech director of innovation, design and development.
EPISD is one of the largest adapters of New Tech Network strategies in the country. Aside from Hart, Guillen and Bowie, New Tech programs exist at Franklin, Austin and Irvin high schools; Brown and Canyon Hills middle schools; and the Young Women’s STEAM Research & Preparatory Academy.