As it completes its second year, Portola High is leading the pack in pioneering new standards for high school education. From the one-to-one Chromebook system to cross-curricular portfolios, many innovative programs have been implemented and had a positive impact on student culture. The revolutionary measures have drastically improved the student technology experience.
Some of the most prominent of these progressions are the one-to-one Chromebook system, the end-of-the-year Genius Project and annual portfolios that showcase artifacts from multiple students’ classes in one location. According to a publication from James Farrell and Cindy Hardin from Florida Southern College, with school programs becoming increasingly focused around STEM, new progressions like those being tested are extremely beneficial for students.
“For some institutions this involves pulling away from traditional course offerings, and moving towards cross-disciplinary offering,” Farrell and Hardin said. “At the same time, faculty teaching these courses are concerned about the best ways to engage the students and keep them motivated throughout the semester.”
The idea behind these projects is to connect multiple subjects, similar to what students will face in their future careers. Realistically, not all careers require knowledge of science and math for example, but other elements like English will be incorporated. Even foreign language can end up being extremely helpful and useful when working with colleagues. These cross curricular advancements, like the change portfolio which connects students’ classes together, truly prepare students for these scenarios that they will face.
One of the most notable of these advancements is the one-to-one Chromebook system. Exclusively at Portola High, this system is extremely helpful to students because it guarantees access to technology at home. The system creates opportunities for students and their respective academic curricula to grow, even outside the school environment. While expensive, systems like these are crucial for newer generations as many districts are moving towards the integration of modern tools in the school environment.
While opponents of the rapid progress may propose that this is developing too quickly with no tangible goal in sight, there are many important details to remember. For one, the extensive budget and modern curriculum come with the responsibility of experimentation for the future. Our school holds the keys to the development of the high school experience, and to achieve our abstract goals, we have to implement radical and brilliant initiatives that challenge the status quo and change it for the better.
In the past two years, our school has exceeded its standards and set unprecedented developmental goals for itself. Our progress has not only served as a benchmark for other schools, but also as an extrinsic motivation for the district to implement similar programs in the remaining high schools. The unique experience that has been curated here has led to countless successes and failures, and the overhaul of the traditional structure of high schools has proven to be quite fruitful for students, staff and the community.
Our raw and untamed progress has allowed us to create an experimental environment in which the most genuine results can be garnered. In turn, the experiences of students in their various categories of projects and opportunities have proven to be crucial to the administration and those in the district working to quantify the overall success of creating an enjoyable high school experience.