Browse Month

February 2018

Coordinating Academic and Vocational Learning at High Tech High


Cutting edge High’s Vocational and Academic Model

Cutting edge High School, situated in North Bergen, New Jersey, is a district wide professional school that joins elevated amounts of scholastic thoroughness with a solid spotlight on professional subjects. All understudies major in one of four institutes: Performing Arts, Architecture and Engineering, Science, or Media Arts. The school’s theory is that understudy premium drives learning, and a great part of the conventional scholastic substance (math, English, social studies, science) attempts to improve understudies’ profession and specialized premiums.

How It’s Done

As Assistant Principal Allyson Krone explains:

They come here because they have an interest in something, and they’re able to make connections within their career and technical path, whether it’s architecture or programming or fabrication, and then they learn how to apply it through the math, the sciences, and the English. So my philosophy is really that the academics should support the career and technical vocation, so that you have this really well-rounded, interested, high-level student who’s doing something that they love.


As a county-wide public school, High Tech High School receives hundreds of applications for admission each year. Students apply for the specific academy that matches their interest, and the admissions criteria vary depending on academy. Students applying to Performing Arts audition for dance, drama, or musical theater. If they are interested in the Architecture and Engineering academy, they come for an interview. For science or technology, the school typically looks at their portfolio and their essay. Students are also selected based on the size and demographics of the towns in Hudson County to represent those populations accordingly. It’s not always grades that drive selection, as students’ interest in their vocational area is a major consideration. The idea is that student interest is the key to driving student learning.

Academies and Vocational Majors

At High Tech High, the school is built around four academies: Performing Arts, Architecture and Engineering, Science, and Media Arts. Each academy has several areas that students can major in. For example, within the Media Arts academy, the majors include film/video, broadcasting, or computer arts. For Performing Arts, a student could major in dance, musical theater, audio technology, or drama. In addition, all students take the required courses for high school students — math, science, history, world languages, physical education, and English.

During their freshman year, students pick any four courses within their designated academy. For example, in the Media Arts Academy, a student samples four of the classes, which could be in film/video, broadcasting, computer applications, or graphic design. During the sophomore year, they continue to hone in on their major, and take two semester-long courses. In their junior and senior years, students commit to one major within the academy and take all the requirements for that major. Juniors are required to have 80 minutes of a major per day, and seniors are required to have 120 minutes of a major per day.

The majors at High Tech include:

  • Architecture
  • Music and Audio Tech
  • Automotive Tech
  • Broadcasting
  • CADA
  • Dance
  • Studio Arts (Drawing, Painting, Sculpture)
  • Musical Theatre
  • Drama
  • TV Production
  • Science and Science Research
  • Engineering
  • Culinary Arts
  • Graphic Arts

Connections to the Real World and 21st-Century Skills

High Tech has put in place many structures to help students make connections and develop skills relevant to the real world. These include developing curriculum that is connected to vocational industries, giving students opportunities through internships, and valuing a diversity of experience from its staff. Above all, the school works to develop the key skills of problem solving, working in collaboration, researching, applying knowledge, and making those real-world connections.

Advisory Committee

Each academy has an advisory committee, which includes parents, students, alumni, teachers, and industry professionals. The committee meets three times a year and helps to shape its academy’s vision. Much of this involves linking the curriculum to what students need to know in various industry areas. Industry partners often help the school understand the crucial skills and knowledge students will need to know by the time they graduate.

Teachers with Industry Skillsets

Many of the teachers at High Tech come from varying backgrounds, often with a vast amount of connections to the industry and professional fields they are teaching in. They bring in guest speakers, take students on field trips, set up internships, and bring their own knowledge and expertise from these professional and vocational areas. For example, one of the musical theater teachers composes Broadway show music; the science teacher has extensive research experience in various companies’ labs; the architecture teacher brings his students to New York City for a day-long exploration of architecture; and the dance teacher has guest choreographers come into her class. Teachers often talk about their own industry experience and what the day-to-day of a professional in the field looks like from the inside.

Unscheduled Periods

Starting in their freshman year, all students at High Tech High have unscheduled free periods. The school believes that encouraging students to take ownership of their time needs to start early on. They must become responsible for their own learning, including how they spend their time. During that unscheduled period, students might seek out extra help, work on a project together, or even socialize with their friends. Being a county school, students live in different towns, which makes these unscheduled periods valuable for socializing or collaborating. This is part of taking responsibility for their learning.


Students can also participate in internships to enhance their learning. Internships range from assisting a teacher for a few hours a week in school to long-term internships at companies and organizations throughout Hudson County. These internships relate to students’ vocational areas, and they get academic credit for their hours.

Integration Across Vocational and Academic Areas

The school encourages vocational and academic teachers to collaborate and integrate as they can. Sometimes this is done across the grade level, so that the 11th grade math teacher is working with the 11th grade dance teacher. Sometimes it’s done with a whole cohort of teachers working within a grade level. Teachers meet during common planning times or before and after school. They also have a summer planning sessions that allow them to explore new ideas or build themes across classes and disciplines.

Much of the collaboration is focused around a particular theme and culminates in a specific project that students create. Projects are used to make connections and show relevancy. Usually the vocational teacher will lead the project, and the academic teachers find ways to fit in and integrate their content. Projects can last anywhere from two weeks to a whole semester. The idea is to collaborate and find ways to work together so that students can view and engage material from multiple perspectives.

Some Purpose of Entry Poetry in the Classroom

Since starting times, practically every history and society has commended the magnificence of verse. Sagas, for example, the Iliad and Odyssey, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and Beowulf commended man’s battles, while Shakespearean pieces caught the loveliness of verse. Edgar Allen Poe credits verse for being the “rhythmical formation of magnificence in words.” With such awards, one can’t overlook the significance and advancement that verse conveys to educational modules. Nonetheless, verse is far beyond meter and rhyme. The flexibility of this medium fits any lesson, any evaluation level, and each understudy.

A Way In

At the beginning of the school year, poetry is a creative way to get to know your students. Begin by having students Think, Turn, and Talk about where they are from. (I often show clips from an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show, “Where Did I Come From?”) After talking, display the poem “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon. After reading and analyzing the poem, have students create their own versions of it, emulating Lyon’s structure and imagery.

“Ode to Pablo’s Tennis Shoes,” by Gary Soto, is another imaginative poem that you can use to learn about your students. Have them quick-write all the places they’ve ever visited, or all of the places they wish to visit. Then, display the poem, analyzing the figurative language that Soto employs. Challenge your students to write their own odes, using tennis shoes or another article of clothing that has traveled with them.

“Hands,” by Sarah Kay, applauds the beauty of hands and endless possibilities they possess. After viewing Kay’s spoken-word poetry, have students create their own variation of her poem. They might consider writing about their eyes, ears, or even feet! Have students share these with one another, challenging them to remember the physical attributes of their peers.

Words, Characters, Methods

Poetry can also be used in word study. In Vocabulary Is Comprehension: Getting to the Root of Text Complexity, Laura Robb includes poetry as a vehicle for understanding denotation and connotation, which we examine to derive the meaning of a poem. In analyzing complicated diction, such as that in Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” or William Blake’s “A Poison Tree,” the reader can fully visualize the themes of exploration and wrath.

Poems such as “Grandma,” by Ralph Fletcher, fully describe memorable characters using both direct and indirect characterization. “To a Daughter Leaving Home,” by Linda Pastan, captures the coming of age experience from a mother’s perspective. Have students create an acrostic, definition poem, or shape poem about characters, people in their lives, and complex or underdeveloped concepts, including defining characteristics, attributes, and experiences.

Figurative language, such as symbolism, similes, personification, and onomatopoeia, are further reinforced through the use of poetry. Methods, such as SIFT and TPCASTT (PDF), establish a purpose for the close reading of a poem. For example, have students identify words and phrases that create a negative or positive tone in Theodore Rothke’s “My Papa’s Waltz.” Provide students with an outline of a fish, and then read aloud Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish.” Have students color the fish, using text evidence as support for their illustrations.

Unique poems, such as Kalli Dakos’ “Call the Periods Call the Commas” and Len Roberts’ “I Can’t Forget You,” can be used to teach many rules of capitalization and punctuation. Challenge your students to read Dakos’ poem in one breath, or analyze the capitalization in “I Can’t Forget You.” “We Real Cool,” by Gwendolyn Brooks, is an excellent poem for examining grammar and sentence structure, as well as assonance and consonance. Students can craft their own versions of these poems, using simple sentences or a variety of sentence structures, grammatical features, and capitalization.

Themes and Gifts

Poetry is an excellent entry point into other genres. Pair Bishop’s “The Fish” with “Jangles: A Big Fish Story” by David Shannon to explore the joy of fishing. Use Martin Niemöller’s “First they came. . .” poem in conjunction with “Rose Blanche,” a picture book by Ian McEwan, in a study about the Holocaust. Explore themes, such as death and dying, by using the poems “Janet Waking,” “Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter,” and texts such as Annie Dillard’s “Death of a Moth” or Kate Chopin’s “Story of an Hour.” Compare fathers in Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays,” Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz,” and the picture book “Every Friday” by Dan Yaccarino. Discover the joy of nature through the poem “Lemon Tree” by Jennifer Clement, picture books, such as “Our Tree Steve” by Alan Zweibel and Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree,” and Gary Soto’s “The Grandfather.”

Be daring and creative in your use of poetry. For many, it is a gift that keeps giving, long after one leaves school. As Beatrice Schenk de Regniers explains:

Keep a picture in your pocket
And a poem in your head
And you’ll never feel lonely
At night when you’re in bed.

How do you use poetry in your classroom?

Attributes of an Efficient Teacher

Instructors are the key wellspring of learning for the understudies. Instructors make understudies learn about their scholastic subjects, as well as understudies take in a ton from the guides that could help them in the individual life also.

You could likewise be an educator having a striking resemblance level. The course to achieve that level is simple and basic and as a task help supplier, we will examine the same in this review.

Make some rules and obey them

Having disciplined life is something that is much necessary if you want to do well at your job. So, one thing you should do is make some rules for yourself as well as for the students and be strict in obeying them.

This way students will respect you for being disciplined in life and not forcing the rules only on the students. You can also break your own rules at times because it shows how brave you are.

Dont stay behind in assisting students in homework

As a teacher its your job to help out the students in every way. You are like the second parent to the students. So, the comfort level between you and your students should be same as they have with their parents.

You should make yourself friendly with the students so that they dont hesitate to seek your assistant if they have some problem in doing homework or some other project.

Think of a solution rather than problem

One of the quality you need to develop in yourself to be an efficient teacher is to never give up. You should train your mind such way that it tries to find out the solution rather than worrying about the various problems that you and the students may face in life.

You should make yourself understand that you wont gain anything by thinking negatively in a problematic situation. If you think the other way than it would definately prove helpful for you.

Stay happy with your job

It is a no brainer that if you like the work you do than you will excel in your job. So, you should understand your job fully and should do dedicatedly. You should get along well with your students as well as colleagues.

You should respect everyones’ opinions about you and should try to learn from the seniors.

Help children discover about themselves

As mentioned above, your job is not limited to just making students learn about subjects. Instead, you can be a good help for them in their personal life as well.

You can help them in realizing their potential and could listen to them if they seem worried because of the personal problem.