Project-Based Learning and Advanced Coursework

Parents of students in the WDMCS Extended Learning Program (ELP) may ask how project-based learning meets the needs of high-ability, high-potential, and high-achieving learners.

Research shows that project-based and problem-based learning provides natural differentiation for students because students can tailor projects to their interests and work at their own level.

Female high school students build drone at STEM school

Female New Tech high school student builds a drone.

New Tech delivers project-based learning that allows students to expand their inquiry to areas of interest and to build depth into their learning that will help them retain knowledge over time.

Project-based learning encourages a growth mindset, collaboration, and communication. In addition, it ensures students are college and career ready upon graduation.

How is this done? Teachers scaffold the learning to meet state standards while differentiating to students’ individual learning styles and ability levels. Differentiation is included in all aspects of project-based learning, including working on a project, producing a final product, benchmark expectations, and researching within the curriculum itself.

If needed, students who participate in the New Tech pathway will have opportunities to take non-project-based courses.

Need more information? See the following Frequently Asked Questions.


Will ELP students be grouped together within New Tech?

All New Tech designated teachers will receive training to meet the needs of all students in project-based learning. In addition, New Tech teachers will collaborate with ELP specialists in order to meet the needs of ELP students. When scheduling students, counselors will attempt to cluster ELP students within New Tech classes. Scheduling does depend upon students’ course requests and students’ needs.


How will students be grouped for projects within New Tech?

The use of mixed ability grouping within Project Based Learning can be an important consideration when choosing the best fit for ELP students. Often, teachers group students by ability level within New Tech, which means ELP students may often be grouped together for projects. However, sometimes New Tech group projects include students of mixed ability levels. Mixed ability grouping fits with New Tech’s emphasis on preparing students for a workforce comprised of people with varying ability levels and backgrounds.


Can New Tech students come in and out of the New Tech pathway?

Students can “passport” out of the New Tech pathway depending upon course interest and student schedule availability. Example: If a student is placed into a math course not currently offered in New Tech, the student can “passport,” or travel, to the appropriate math course outside of New Tech, then return to New Tech for other courses. Example: If an eligible student enrolls in the ELP course, the student can “passport” to the ELP class.


Can students take advanced coursework through New Tech?

Students will have access to advanced coursework within New Tech classes. Example: Students will engage in enriched projects with advanced-level standards and benchmarks within a PBL/PrBL classroom, based on their needs. Students can also take advanced coursework not offered through New Tech through a “passport” system (see above).


How will New Tech fit in with AP courses?

Students will have access to AP coursework within the New Tech pathway (VHS courses have not yet been determined). Also, students can take AP coursework through a “passport” system (see above).


How will New Tech fit in with Honors and Scholars Designations?

Eligible students decide to pursue Honors and Scholars as sophomores. The New Tech pathway for 9th grade is compatible with the preparatory coursework needed to pursue Honors and/or Scholars Designations. When scheduling courses, students will need to review the requirements for Honors and/or Scholars Designations to determine whether New Tech coursework is appropriate.


How will New Tech courses appear on transcripts?

Transcripts will reflect the core class content covered within the New Tech course. For example,  New Tech Humanities will be recorded on the transcript as Geographical Cultural Studies or Global Understanding and Language and Literature or Literature and Composition.