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Level Up! Project-Based Learning Coming to Valley Southwoods

Next year, project-based learning is expanding into Valley Southwoods Freshman High School as it introduces its first “school-within-a-school.”

Working in group

Group of three students working on a project.

All incoming ninth-grade students will be part of Valley Southwoods Ninth Grade High School, but some can choose to be part of a project-based learning environment.


Project-Based Learning

Through authentic, community-based projects and problem-based experiences, students will collaborate with their peers and business and city leaders to make an impact on our community.

Teachers design complex, authentic challenges that engage students, require them to demonstrate mastery of knowledge, and foster written and oral communication skills.

All Valley Southwoods students will have access to the same curriculum, but the school-within-a-school will integrate multiple courses, like English and history or science and business, into one class.  


Technology-rich Environment

Through a technology-rich environment, teachers and students create, communicate, access information, and experience self-directed learning. Each student is assigned a personal Chromebook, and an online learning platform supports project-based learning.  


College- and Career-Ready

As they move on to Valley High School, students will graduate with the skills and knowledge that allow them to be creative and productive citizens in a global society and be college and career ready.

At Valley Southwoods Freshman High School, students will be active problem solvers and creators.


Learn More!

Learn more about project-based learning and how you can be a part of this innovative learning approach at


District Expands New Tech Model to High School

NTN_Columbus_Stilwell3High school students in the  West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) will soon be able to attend a
New Tech school, where project-based learning is the primary method of instruction.

On May 9th, the WDMCS Board of Education approved a district committee’s recommendation to expand the New Tech instructional model to ninth grade at Valley Southwoods Freshman High School in 2017-18. The district will expand the model to 10th grade at Valley High School in 2018-19, then to 11th grade in 2019-2020, and to 12th grade in 2020-21.

The New Tech Advisory Committee recommended using a “school-within-a-school” model, which establishes a smaller team of teachers and students within the larger school. For example, a portion of Valley Southwoods students and teachers would be organized around the New Tech model while the rest would remain using the traditional educational model.

This structure allows families to choose the model that best matches their student’s learning style. It also provides students who currently attend a New Tech school to continue with the model. Crestview School of Inquiry and Clive Learning Academy are full New Tech schools in the district and there is one seventh-grade team at each junior high school. Next year, there will also be one eighth-grade New Tech team at each junior high.

The committee agreed that the school-within-a-school model should be reviewed in five years by a representative stakeholder group.


Learn More About New Tech

Watch the WDMCS New Tech Video

New Tech FAQs

Submit a Question about New Tech

New Tech Schools Update School Board on Implementation

If someone asked Indian Hills’ seventh grader Jenna Herting if her team’s switch to the New Tech learning model this year has been a success, she might say yes.

“New Tech really encourages us to work with others and meet new people,” she said during a presentation before the School Board on Monday, Feb. 8. “And… we have the work ethic to continue our work.”

Teachers and students from Indian Hills Junior High, Crestview School of Inquiry, and Clive Learning Academy reflected on the first few months of their implementation of the New Tech learning model and shared projects and instructional processes. Stilwell teachers and students shared information during the Board’s Jan. 25 visit to the junior high.

Teachers and administrators said students have ownership of their learning, and they are able to articulate what they are learning and why.  Several administrators said discipline incidents have gone down and attendance has improved for the New Tech schools or teams. They also said it is still too early to tell if New Tech is the reason for the improvement. Administrators also said a few students have found the model is not the right fit for them and, at the junior high, have moved to teams that provide traditional instruction.

Teachers said they are collaborating more and connecting the Iowa Core standards to projects, which are the basis for student learning.

An advisory team of parents, business leaders, city officials, school board members, teachers, and administrators is meeting to develop a recommendation for implementation of the New Tech model at the high school level in future years.

For more information about WDMCS New Tech schools, visit

Two Schools Have New Names

This year two schools in the West Des Moines Community School District have new names.

The new names reflect their new approach to instruction.

“This year, we have the opportunity to implement project-based learning using New Tech Network as our model and support system,” said Crestview Director John Villotti.

The New Tech Network educational model provides engaging and rigorous instruction through project-based learning in a collaborative culture and fully integrated technology that enable students to gain the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in life, college, and the careers of tomorrow.

“Each staff member had an opportunity to brainstorm new school names, and each had to have the ‘why,’ ” said Clive Learning Academy Director Drea Bocook. referring to the leadership approach of first thinking about why an organization exists, not simply what it does and how it does it.

Students and parent groups also provided input.

The new names were approved by the School Board on July 13, 2015 and each building opened its doors on the first day of school with a brand-new name.

To learn more about each school, visit For more information on our New Tech schools, visit


New Tech Learner Applications for Junior Highs Now Available!

NTN logoNew Tech is coming to our junior high schools next year and our current sixth graders are invited to join us!

Applications Now Available!

  • Online: The Learner Applications for both Indian Hills and Stilwell are available in a PDF format online. To complete, please download and print either the Indian Hills or Stilwell application, depending on which school your current sixth-grade student will attend next year.

New Tech – Indian Hills Learner Application

New Tech –  Stilwell  Learner Application

  • At Each Elementary School: Printed copies of the Learner Applications are also available at each elementary school in the district starting today.

Submit Your Application

  • Applications will be accepted in person starting at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 23 through Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 3 p.m.
  • For Indian Hills Junior High, the first 110 learners to turn in an application will be immediately enrolled. The 111th learner and thereafter will be selected for enrollment through a stratified lottery.
  • For Stilwell Junior High, the first 130 learners to turn in an application will be immediately enrolled. The 131st learner and thereafter will be selected for enrollment through a stratified lottery.
  • Applications will be accepted in person at each junior high. Please submit your completed form in person to Stilwell Junior High, 1601 Vine Street, West Des Moines, or to Indian Hills Junior High, 9401 Indian Hills Drive, Clive, depending on which junior high your student will be attending next year.

Have Questions?

If you have a question about the application or process, please contact either Indian Hills Junior High at 633-4700 or Stilwell Junior High at 633-6000.

If you have a general question about New Tech at the West Des Moines Community Schools, please see the information below or submit your question here.

Information about New Tech

Next year, the West Des Moines Community Schools will be the first district in the state of Iowa to offer New Tech schools, where students learn through real-world projects and students are assigned a personal digital device.

Both Indian Hills and Stilwell junior high schools will offer a “school-within-a-school” model, with one team of seventh-grade students learning in a New Tech environment. Incoming seventh-graders have the opportunity to apply to the New Tech team at their junior high or choose to be assigned to a team using the traditional teaching model.

The New Tech model embraces three key elements.

  • Project-based learning that provides engaging and rigorous instruction.
  • Collaborative culture that promotes trust, respect, and responsibility.
  • Technology fully applied to allow for innovative approaches to instruction.

For information about New Tech at the West Des Moines Community Schools, visit

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