by Coy Holcombe.
We were able to hear two national speakers today. The first was Phil Schlechty. Dr. Schlechty has done educational research for a number of years. Lately his focus has been on "working on the work". He believes that in order to engage students and to motivate students to want to learn the work must be something that is meaningful to the students. Technology must become part of the background. It must be a given that students have the means to access the wealth of information that is available and to create their own material.
Frank Kelly, director of programing for the SHW Group, was the next presenter. Recently he co-authored a book entitled, Teaching the Digital Generation: No more cookie-cutter high schools. The presentation emphasized how educators can address the needs of learners that are immersed in the digital environment. He explored several different alternative models of high schools that address 21st century skills.
The last session of the day was called the New Tech High School. Presenters from Coppell High School and Manor ISD made the presentation. The New Tech High School focuses on project centered instruction. Both of of these districts reported substantial gains in achievement as well as attendance at the high schools that had implemented the New Tech program. The superintendent of Manor reported that they now have their own MySpace page in which students proudly display the results of their work.