LOWELL | There's a new language being spoken in Tri-Creek Schools, and, eventually, everyone will learn it.
It's the language of New Tech, the project-based learning approach to educating students involving rigorous curricula and computers.
Seventh-graders at Lowell Middle School will be the first group in the district to be immersed in the new culture.
Middle school Principal Rebecca Pavich said parents will be introduced to New Tech during Back to School Night on Monday.
"At the beginning of the year, we will be culture building, team building, getting to know each other," Pavich said. She said the seventh-grade team overseeing the roll out will experiment with schedule options, such as 60- and 70- minute blocks.
Parents will always be apprised of schedule changes, she said.
The seventh-graders will enjoy new freedoms as part of the overall New Tech concept.
"We'll roll those freedoms out slowly. ... As you show responsibility, you will get more freedoms," Pavich said.
For example, there will probably not be passing times between classes. Instead, "trust cards" will be used with listed privileges such as using the bathroom. No more asking the teacher and interrupting class time, she said.
The New Tech grading system will reflect the new values and was recently approved by the Tri-Creek School Board.
At the middle school level, half of the student's grade will be termed Knowledge and Critical Thinking. Of the remaining, 30 percent will be the grade on Collaboration and the 20 percent on Agency.
Pavich defined agency as work ethic, growing intelligence and adaptable mindsets.
"It gets back to hard work and practicing. ... We want that culture in our buildings," she said. "Agency is the catalyst for all the outcomes. ... We did a lot of deep learning ourselves about agency and what it is," she said.
Lowell High School Principal Lori Pavell said New Tech will be gradually integrated into the high school curriculum. She said the sixth hour will be devoted to aspects of Agency, career and college readiness and more.
"None of this will be a grade," she said. The roll out at the high school is expected to take two years.
Even elementary school parents will notice a new language on report cards this school year as the district introduces key words and concepts in preparation for New Tech.