Frequently Asked Questions
1) How many spaces are there in the freshman class?
There are generally 150 students in each entering class.
2) What type of student is a good fit for d.tech?
As a public charter school d.tech’s enrollment is open to any student residing in California. We are looking for kind and community-minded students with demonstrated motivation and ability who will contribute to d.tech beyond the classroom. At d.tech all staff believe in the promise of every student, and together we work to build and sustain a community of diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and talents. Students who want to learn to be empathetic problem solvers, active members of their communities, testers of solutions and assumptions, and rebuild public education should apply!
3) What is the daily schedule?
At d.tech we have a flexible learning model that requires a certain degree of flexibility in our scheduling. Instead of year-long dedicated class periods for each class, where time is constant and learning varies, d.tech’s schedule allows students to receive the amount of instruction and intervention necessary to support mastery and understanding. Student’s schedules change weekly based on their performance in their self-directed learning hubs, comprehension checks, performance tasks and in-class discussions or participation. Students are required to be at school throughout the regular school day, but the time they spend in each class will vary depending on what they need to succeed.
4) What is Design Thinking and the Design Lab at d.tech?
Students learn human-centered problem solving principles called “Design Thinking.” Design Thinking was developed by IDEO and Stanford University. It is now implemented throughout the world and taught to students and professionals at Stanford’s Hasso-Plattner’s School of Design (d.school) as their guiding principles for problem solving and innovation.
Design Lab is where d.tech students learn Design thinking. Design Lab is a 4-year class that all d.tech students take.
Students use Design Thinking principles to solve a variety of problems in a various fields and industries.
By learning the principles, techniques, and mindsets of Design Thinking - as well as other skills such as communications, engineering and entrepreneurship - our students will become innovation ready for college and career.
Why a Design Lab?
The goals of the Design Lab include: developing empathy, applying content knowledge to real-world problems; learning 21st century success skills like collaboration, communication, creativity, research, persistence, and inquiry; and putting their knowledge into action in order to deepen their learning.
The experiences students have during the Design Lab class will connect them with the community, organizations, and companies - where they will learn more about how to apply the problem-solving skills they are learning in outside organizations.
5) Does d.tech teach Common Core?
d.tech students will graduate having mastered the skills as described in the Common Core and be innovation, college and career ready. For those students who are ready to move beyond the high school level Common Core, they are able to move into college level courses through participation in online school and/or community college classes.
6 ) Will students be doing project-based learning all day long?
No. Students at d.tech will spend most of their day focused on academic coursework - Math, Science, English, History, and World Language. Each day students also meet with their Advisory teachers to check in about course work and together the advisory class completes a Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum designed by our Director of Health & Wellness. Three mornings per week are dedicated to Design Lab, where students engage in a problem-solving curriculum that involves creating solutions to real-world challenges.
7) Will d.tech offer A.P. or I.B. classes?
At d.tech students can opt for Concurrent College Enrollment (CCE), rather than AP or IB classes. Like many high schools throughout the nation who are moving away from the AP program, d.tech finds the AP courses to be restrictive, and the focus on passing the AP exam interferes with our ability to offer a rigorous, personalized curriculum. Instead of AP, we enroll our students in free college courses through local community colleges or online universities. Not only do students get the experience of a real college course, but they get it for free and they are assured college credit for the course, making it more likely they will graduate from college in four years. Though we are not offering AP classes, students can still take the AP exams and we will encourage students to do so, if appropriate. Additionally, students can still get the "extra grade point" in their GPA calculation for CCE courses and also for honors courses that we will offer starting in grade 10.
8) What about electives?
One of the unique educational experiences offered at Design Tech High School affords students the opportunity to participate in half-to-full day elective courses during four 2-week periods of the school year. The purpose of these 2-week Intersession periods is for students to take a deep dive into a variety of disciplines and industries taught by professionals from our local community. Students will also meet their Visual Performing Arts Credit through their Intersession courses. Intersession courses allow our students to gain meaningful experiences outside their everyday school context and begin to experience their futures as productive members of the community.
The entire Intersession experience is designed as an opportunity to further develop and apply the content knowledge and essential success skills that are central to the d.tech experience. Students emerge from their workshops with new perspectives about themselves, the greater global society and their own futures.
9) Extra Curriculars at d.tech
CLUBS - As a student at d.tech, you will find that you can be involved and have an impact here by participating and taking leadership roles in a wide range of student run clubs. Here is a list of current clubs that our students have founded: Anime Club, Art and Drawing Club, Botany Club, Coding Team, Competitive Gaming Club, Creative Writing Club, Design Leadership Club, GSA, Interact Club, Performing Arts, Robotics Club, Rock Band, Skater Club, Sports Club, Yearbook Club.
SPORTS - In our first year, we are focusing on one, or possibly two school-sponsored sports for our students. The d.tech basketball teams will be our first official sports teams. In the spring, we may add another sport based on student interest. Each year, we hope to add more sports, as we deeply value the numerous benefits of athletics for the students and the school community as a whole.
10) How much homework is there?
Students at d.tech have opportunities during their day (Learning Hubs) to complete coursework so that they will have little to no homework after school. Some students find that if they need to catch up a bit or want to get a little ahead, working for a little while at home can help. Students may also have homework that is related to a project they are working on for a class or for their Design Lab course. The primary goal at d.tech is for students to use their time effectively at school so that they have time to pursue other interests and spend time with their families when they are not in school.
11) Health & Wellness Program
HEALTH - Our health and wellness program is a 4-year program that helps students become the best possible versions of themselves. During their @d.tech class, focused sessions and projects, they will learn about topics related to physical, emotional, mental, and social health and reflect on how they can use that information in their daily lives.
A large component of our health program focuses on social and emotional learning. One way we teach this is through our weekly Open Sessions where each @d.tech class, of about 24 students, shares concerns or issues and gets feedback and advice from their peers. Students are becoming more empathetic through this process, and have begun to count on these sessions as a way to check in with others in a safe environment.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION - Students are expected to be physically active all four years at d.tech. Some students choose to come to the optional morning exercise class in order to earn some of their PE credit. Others will earn their credit for physical education through an independent study program that is coordinated by our Director of Health and Wellness. We encourage students to get involved in outside sports and other physical activities as a way of earning their Physical Education credit. We have a great representation of students involved in everything from soccer and tennis to martial arts and bike riding crew and rock climbing.
12) STEM Program (Science. Technology. Engineering. Math.)
Our math curriculum aligns and exceeds requirements of the Common Core. Traditional math courses often present students one entry point to each concept and reward rote memorization. Because of this many students think they hate math and the “learning” does not stick. Additionally, because of technological developments, speed and accuracy are no longer the dominant priorities in math education. At d.tech we offer students many entry points to a math concept by providing a variety of materials to teach math concepts, engaging manipulatives, using low-tech and high tech tools, requiring written explanation of mathematical thinking, and providing a visual, concrete understanding of concepts before teaching the symbolic, abstract language of math. We also prioritize deep understanding and habits of mind (such as conjecturing and generalizing) over coverage of content.
Our science program is aligned with the recently published Next Gen Science Standards and treats science as a way to look at the world and a way to solve problems, rather than just a sequence of facts. At d.tech, students start their science education with physics because the principles of physics are foundational to the other science fields. They then take chemistry and biology. Each of these science courses addresses scientific and engineering practices, cross-cutting skills such as understanding cause and effect or modeling systems, and the core ideas of the discipline. In addition, our science coursework allows students to learn about and understand science concepts as they are applied in the real world. Should a student want to take a fourth year of science, they can enroll in a college-level course through concurrent enrollment.
Throughout the four-year design lab course, students will have ample opportunities to design and build prototypes which can eventually be engineered into actual solutions to the needs in the community and world. Our connections with Universities such as Stanford make this reality even more possible.
Students will be using technology in a way that enhances their learning both in their core subject classes as well as their areas of passion. At d.tech we see the value of technology as one of the great tools that our students can access in order to deepen their learning. Our Intersession program also affords students to take classes in newer technologies from companies such as TechShop, LearningTech, Oracle, and Film/Music production.
The English, world language, and social science departments will build curricula that address the standards presented in the Common Core.
Few skills empower an individual as much as a strong command of their language. Our English curriculum, which includes four English courses, gives students a deep understanding of the English language and how it can be used effectively. This means students learn to:
read and critically analyze complex text independently,
write in a way that effectively communicates their thinking to a broad range of audiences and to meet a broad range of purposes, and
speak confidently and clearly in both formal and informal settings.
The d.tech English program is a series of four courses that are thematically organized, linked with each other, and aligned with the common core standards for English language arts. Students read fiction and non-fiction texts, as well as examine poetry, film, music, and art pieces that are thematically connected to the course units. Students are exposed to a variety of reading strategies to aid the comprehension of text as well as the ability to extend the meaning of a text through interpretation, inference, and analysis. As students progress through d.tech’s English courses they are expected to internalize and personalize the reading strategies that work best for them so that they are proficient at independently comprehending and analyzing complex, college-level readings.
Writing is a central focus in English classes at d.tech, and students learn strategies for effective composition, as well as vocabulary and technical elements of writing, in order to communicate appropriately and effectively. At d.tech we believe all people can become good writers with frequent practice, fast and specific feedback from authentic audiences, and multiple revisions.
14) World Language
The Middlebury Language Program's and Brigham Young University’s online independent study courses in world languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, French, Japanese, and more is our main curriculum for world language. Many worry that students in an online language course will not speak the target language enough; however, students in this program are required to speak frequently and, in fact, often get more speaking time than many students in traditional, large foreign language classes (Germain-Rutherford and Martinez-Lage, 2012). Enrolled students also have access to online, real-time discussions and test practice with university TAs. The curriculum also requires students to write regularly in the target language, and provides various types of materials to access the language.