In the essay “At School, Technology Starts to Turn a Corner” (New York Times, Aug. 16, 2008), author Steve Lohr describes a contemporary model for 21st century education that embeds technology into project-based learning. The “New Technology” teaching method is gaining momentum and is currently deployed in nine U.S. states.
The New Technology method transforms classrooms from lecture-and-textbook models into active, inquiry-based learning centers. Students conduct research to tackle real issues and answer complicated questions. They meet state standards and benchmarks by getting out of their seats and completing practical tasks. According to the article, students in active, project-based classrooms perform better in class and on standardized tests. They own the information because they had to discover it themselves through guided activities.
An excellent video from the New Technology Foundation website documents a math teacher at New Technology High School in Napa, California who starts her teaching units by looking at the state standards and then brainstorming how she can create real-world, hands-on applications for her students. It would be a seriously fun math class where students get out of their seats, conduct experiements and work collaboratively. Quite different from the textbook-and-lecture math classes I received in high school, from which most of the information sits in a dusty region of my brain known as the medulla iforgotta.