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The Redesign of Eagle Tech

By Skyllar Hodges -- Eagle Staff Writer

Eagle Tech Students and Faculty inform 8th graders about Eagle Tech and how they can be a part of it here at FCHS. (Ross Zabloski - History Teacher, Alex Archinal - 12, Aina Reese - 9, Matthew Smith - 11, Sarah Vincent - 12) (Courtesy Photo: Audrey Fizer))

What is Eagle Tech? Many people have heard of Eagle Tech around campus, but don't exactly understand what it truly means. “Eagle Tech to me, besides being a cool class, means coming together and forming connections with your peers… and with content,” explained one ET faculty member. For many students, this might sound great at first, but outside pressures have meant changes for the program that created a very different reality than what was first intended.

PBL stands for Project Based Learning, which is"providing choices for student learning and actively engaging students,"Brenda Muse, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, stated.

There are many soft skills that students learn and practice through Eagle Tech courses like “research, reporting, communication, and quick thinking,” according to Corbin Porter, a senior.

Eagle Tech prepares students for the real world, real problems, and real people. Muse explained a few skills participants might gain, "all of these skills/components prepare students for life outside of high school; students will need to be able to problem solve, work collaboratively, communicate and utilize creative skills on any job/career they pursue."

Over the years, Eagle Tech teachers and students have seen a new side to what PBL used to be. Some have stated that they saw new changes and a new direction that Eagle Tech was going. “I have seen that we have slowly turned to more assessment-based learning, so now I feel like taking Eagle Tech is just the name and nothing else…when we first started it felt a lot more like PBL,” Porter stated.

One of the changes has been splitting classes, with some courses being much larger than others. This may mean that a group of 30 students taking the same class is being split with a ratio of 8 students in one class and 22 in another. Regarding the class split, Porter said, “It is affecting the people we have worked with for a long time, getting separated and those that are in the smaller classes not having the same amount of minds to think.”

In World History 1 Eagle Tech students built pieces of technology to represent ancient civilizations. Here pictured is Kemper Gilley, a freshman at FCHS , who built a Mesopotamian ship out of popsicle sticks. (Courtesy Photo by Audrey Fizer)

Many PBL classes have seen different configurations over the past few years. There has been a “shorter time to complete the class (now a semester versus a whole year), and also smaller classrooms. It's been difficult to complete projects in smaller classrooms with not a lot of workspace,” one ET faculty member described.

For some PBL teachers, it has become difficult to teach and build lesson plans around the new state requirements that students must complete. One source explained, “ I've had to cut materials and topics from my class just to fit in all of the content, and slim down projects for students.”

There are many changes that program members have seen over the past couple of years, so how were these implemented? Jon Crutchfield, principal of FCHS stated, "[Covid] has caused some decrease in the number of students in the courses... funding for it ran out this past year, so it was a cumulative redesign."

The redesign of Eagle Tech has affected the teachers and students who are a part of this 21st-century way of learning. Many have stated that learning is different, preparation is harder, and the program isn’t what it used to be. “Preserving this method of teaching has become challenging, trying to stay true to the program,” one teacher shared.

"I am continually impressed with how Eagle Tech facilitators and students have adjusted to changes to the program over the years ...and am looking forward to continuing to see the program grow, and reach more students and more members of the community," Audrey Fizer, Eagle Tech Facilitator, stated.

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