What does it mean by "STEM Certified, all-inclusive, project-based learning program"?
Let's take this one piece at a time.
The State of Georgia has a program called STEMGeorgia, which certifies schools as STEM programs. As of our certification, there were 9, but this is just getting underway. Georgia won't allow just anyone to claim STEM, they want to make sure there is substance in our programs. We are "STEM certified"!
Next, we are all-inclusive in that we do NOT filter our students in any way. Any student who has asked to be in our program has been accepted. Our population mirrors that of the school in diversity (racial, gender, socio-economic, special education/needs).
Finally, we are project-based. That is, we don't believe in lecture as the only form of education, but as one form. We have a college-like schedule where the students do receive a lecture or more per week, but more of their time is spent working on projects that demonstrate their skills from their classes.
So there you have it. We are a STEM-certified, all-inclusive, project-based learning program (and a pretty good one at that!)
How will this look on a transcript?
This will appear just like any other set of classes, only the method of learning approach is different.
What are the classes in the program?
Our 2018-2019 9th graders are taking 3 credits: Science (Chemistry), Language Arts, and technology (Intro to Digital Technology)! In this year, we are focusing on their understanding of the 4 C's (Collaboration, Communication, Creativity and Critical Thinking) using structured project-based learning. Most of these students need to learn how to plan and manage their time individually and as teams, and we want them to use their creative side to demonstrate the Academic Knowledge Standards (AKS) in their own way. The differences between the CDAT9 Academy and the 9th Grade Academy: our teachers combine assignments into single creative projects, and our students take Intro to Digital Tech (IDT, not IBT) as a tool to express their Science and Language Arts.
Our 10th graders take Biology (either regular or AP), Language Arts and World History (regular or AP). They will become specialists in their technology and begin to develop a professional portfolio of their work, while applying it to their Science or World History, using the skillset of Language Arts. They will also work as a specialist in their teams, developing communication and collaboration skills that are demanded in the modern workplace.
In the Fall of 2019, our 11th graders will not be assigned integrated curriculum, but will have a "Junior Capstone". This is intended to push students to develop authentic products using their interests and skills, over longer periods of time, to be publicly shown or even sold. We chose a Capstone course for their 11th grade because a Senior Capstone won't be useful for college applications, resumes, etc. This is a graded, documented process using the guidelines of an Independent Scientific Research course.
Finally, our 12th graders should be out of here! To clarify: we hope most of our 12th grade students take advantage of college Dual Enrollment (aka Move On When Ready) or an internship, or both. We also offer a hybrid online Language Arts course, so they can learn "how" to take an online course successfully before they have to experience it on their own. The point of high school is to prepare for college and career, so we want them to have as much post-secondary experience as possible.
Outside of CDAT time, students focus on their other requirements, at whatever level they choose, AP or CP. For example, 9th graders could take AP Human Geography, a specific Math class, as well as a Foreign Language or Band (this is where having PE/Health embedded in CDAT really opens up another choice for students).
What is project-based learning and the "flipped classroom"?
Project-based learning is when the student can choose a genuine, meaningful demonstration of their learning. Instead of "take this test" or "make this model", project-based learning (PBL) says "show me how you can use this learning, however you want." The "flipped model" is really just college: they don't have you read in class in college, they expect you to read and come back ready for discussion. We want to get our students ready for college, and this fits well.
What about the "big tests", standardized testing?
We want standard testing, because it helps us to evaluate ourselves against the larger student body. For example, Math might have common testing every 6 weeks. We will make sure our students are covering the same standards in those 6 weeks, but in their most efficient and effective ways, not ours. If they learn best by sharing a white board with a study group, awesome! We'll make sure it's effective for them, and encourage it. We've done well so far with this method, and think we can improve even further.
How will they be evaluated?
Students will expected to create plans, benchmark goals and final products for projects they choose that address the AKS/standards necessary for completion of each course. They will measured against the AKS and their plans, but we will also utilize standard GCPS testing such as EOCT and other testing to validate our progress and results.
Why is Lanier trying this program?
A great deal of research now points to improved academic results from student ownership and authentic work. Additionally, the world of hardware and software engineering is growing at a rapid pace, with a particular emphasis in Georgia. This program combines the interests of the students, a proven project-based learning approach, and a target industry of the local economy. We believe this program will be a positive option for many (not all) of our students. (We've done really well too: great test scores, many awards and accolades, speaking at national conferences!)
How do students sign up for this program?
Students can elect to choose this program during the Elective Fair at their middle school, or during Elective registration at the high school. We accept any student who chooses our program. Rising 9th graders simply choose "CDAT9" on their registration form.
What kind of student does well in CDAT?
We created CDAT for students who would like to apply more creativity to their schooling, as well as be more responsible for themselves. While students who might pursue careers in engineering, video/movies, game development and other creative areas, we are also a great place for the mature student who wants to work on real-world project development skills. It’s not a place for kids who need to be told what to do every few minutes. If students are frequently disruptive to their peers, they are asked to leave the program.
Who do I contact for more information?
If you have questions about the CDAT program itself, please email Mike Reilly (email@example.com). Email is best, we are not close to phones very often. For information on how to register or visit, you can contact our Counseling office for forms or other details.