Freshmen at Westside High School entered the auditorium to cheers of encouragement from their peers at the school’s recent kickoff for Linked Learning, a district initiative that places real-life career experience in the classroom. The event allows students who expressed an interest in digital media and design to learn more about Linked Learning and their ninth-grade project.
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“They’ll get the opportunity to learn about things they’re passionate about,” said Adam Stephens, assistant superintendent of Linked Learning.
As a part of the Linked Learning approach, freshmen will complete a course of study that culminates in an end-of-year project that integrates work from all classes.
Ninth-graders at Westside will work on a public service announcement, utilizing video, web and other multimedia components. That suits freshman Kenna McDowell just fine, as she says she has a deep interest in digital media. “I’ve always been interested in YouTube and Vine and video games,” she said.
Linked Learning will also be beneficial for teachers, who will work together to create lessons that incorporate a variety of areas and subjects. “It’ll help me get out of the box that you sometimes get in after teaching the same way for so long,” said 18-year teaching veteran DeWayne Schuessler.
HISD’s Linked Learning approach launched its pilot phase last month in eight high schools and their feeder pattern schools — a total of 40 campuses. This pre-K through 12th-grade blend of college and career readiness is funded in part by a $30 million, five-year federal Race to the Top grant.