Fewer Textbooks and Lectures, More Real-World Projects - WSPA.com

Fewer Textbooks and Lectures, More Real-World Projects

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A new program is going to be offered at two upstate high schools starting next school year -- and it could come to your child's school next. A new program is going to be offered at two upstate high schools starting next school year -- and it could come to your child's school next.
GREENVILLE, S.C. -

A new program is going to be offered at two upstate high schools starting next school year -- and it could come to your child's school next.

It's called the New Tech Network.

Think of it as a classroom re-imagined. It involves fewer textbooks and lectures in favor of more critical thinking and real-world projects.

Two high schools in South Carolina already have it.

J.L. Mann and Carolina High Schools will be first in the upstate to offer it to incoming freshman this fall.

“I've been in education for 27 years and this is the most exciting thing that I’ve ever seen or been a part of," said J.L. Mann principal Charlie Mayfield.

New Tech's foundation is project-based learning, where students apply the concepts they learn in class to real-life scenarios, like creating a business model.

“When we make connections when we learn, that's how things stick in our brain," said Cindy Alsip, who will be the director of New Tech @ Mann.

Each student will be issued a device, either a tablet or a laptop.

They'll have what's called "combined classes,” where subjects are integrated together, like English and Geography.

“I'm excited to see how that's going to help the kids understand English class is English class, but when you read this book, there's connections to the world," said Alsip.

It gets results. According to the program, students graduate at a rate 6 percent higher than the national average and enroll in college at a rate 9 percent higher than the national average.

Teachers and administrators at the two high schools are already training around the country to see what's working and how to bring it to your kids.

“It was action everywhere, but learning -- making those connections. It was exciting to watch and I cannot wait to see it here," said Alsip.

The two upstate schools are implementing this program in different ways.

Carolina High School will implement the program school-wide, starting with next year's freshmen and adding a grade each year.

Incoming freshman at J.L. Mann can apply to be in the program through March 7. You can find that application here. One-hundred-fifty of incoming 9th-graders who apply will be selected by lottery. The school will also add a grade each year until there are 600 students in the program.

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