Parramatta Marist first Australian school to join US PBL New Tech Network
|Lydia Dobyns and Tim Presiado congratulate Br Patrick Howlett and student Anthony Maroon (left) and school captain James Younis (right) on becoming for first non US school to join the New Tech Network.|
|Senior New Tech director, Tim Presiado, talks about the experience of US schools using the PBL approach.|
On Wednesday 21 March, Parramatta Marist High School, Westmead were officially recognised as the first Australian based partners of the United States (US) education group, New Tech Network following the success of their project based learning (PBL) approach at the boys secondary school.
New Tech president, Lydia Dobyns, and senior director, Tim Presiado, made the trip from their base in California to officially welcome Parramatta Marist High into the New Tech Network and to conduct a seminar on project based learning for more than 300 educators and school leaders.
The New Tech Network is a not-for-profit education organisation that is transforming schools across the US through their project based learning model that moves away from a ‘chalk and talk’ teaching approach to one that empowers students to learn in problem solving project teams. In this model, classrooms are divided into smaller team groups and teachers take on more of a facilitation role as students work together to deliver a real-life project that applies key parts of the curriculum across several subject areas.
Parramatta Marist principal, Br Patrick Howlett, first encountered the PBL model in the US in 2005 and said that he was impressed with what he saw.
‘You can walk into a school and immediately see that something special is happening in education,’ said Br Patrick. ‘What I noticed in my first experience of PBL was a special engagement between the students and their teachers who were all on task and engaged in their learning.’
Project based learning was officially implemented at Parramatta Marist in 2008 and the first cohort of students to go through the model finished Year 12 last year. Br Patrick said that it gave him great pride to be the first school outside of the US to be recognised as a New Tech School.
‘Four years on and the response from students, teachers, parents and even employers has been overwhelming,’ said Br Patrick. ‘Our students aren’t only achieving better HSC results, they now have skills in critical thinking, creative problem solving, a strong work ethic and an emotional maturity which employers value and recognise.’
Lydia Dobyns said Parramatta Marist was working hard in improving learning and teaching and the students were the beneficiaries.
'Br Patrick’s dedication and commitment to improving learning at Parramatta Marist is to be commended,’ said Lydia. ‘They are proof that relevant, rigorous PBL is the best preparation for whatever path students may pursue after high school.’
During the seminar, questions were taken from the audience about the practical implementation of the approach for other schools.
Year 12 student Anthony Maroon said that his experience with the PBL model has enhanced his learning on both an academic and social level.
‘It has allowed us to use our own initiative and really get involved in the work,’ said Anthony. ‘There is a real focus on collaboration and we are accountable for the work we produce which is already helping me in my senior years and will be transferrable throughout further study and into my professional career.’
Tim Presiado said the US experience was already showing benefits to students post-school.
‘PBL creates a new type of student ready to engage with the unknown,’ said Tim. ‘Preparing the next generation of global citizens who will compete with their counterparts on real world projects. Content mastery is not enough, we need well rounded students.’
‘In the US the data is very encouraging with twice the national average for Year 2 and 3 in university persistence,’ he said.
While still early days the implementation of PBL at Parramatta Marist is already showing positive results with over 75 per cent of the schools 2011 Year 12 students being offered university places.
To read more about Parramatta Marist’s learning journey visit:
|Executive director of schools, Greg Whitby, spoke with the New Tech Newtork leaders about PBL during their visit to Parramatta Marist. |
|Patrician Brothers College, Blacktown principal, Santo Passarello asks a question about the approach during the seminar.|
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