Laurie Kimbrel

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Is your teenager already in the too much screen time zone this summer?  A great solution is always high interest, quick and easy summer reading!  I found a great link to the hottest Young Adult books that are sure to please even the most picky reader.  Check it out at this link:

http://www.bustle.com/articles/84804-15-of-the-best-ya-books-of-summer-2015-youll-need-to-carry-from-beach-to

There is something for everyone on this list, which includes romance, fantasy, action, crime and mystery.  Many of the authors are well known in the YA realm and there are some newcomers as well.  Adults my be interested to learn that Sophie Kinsella, well known author of “Confessions of a Shopaholic” has released her first book for younger audiences.

Remember, all reading is good reading and summer is for fun and enjoyment.  No need to read textbooks or weighty subjects, just turn off the computer and read something that you like.  Parents, remember you can model by reading your own summer fun book!

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Seeing Jay McTigue at the ASCD Conference on Teaching Excellence simultaneously reminded me of the wonderful body of work of his colleague, Grant Wiggins and saddened me that with his passing, the landscape of education research has forever changed.  Grant Wiggins was one of my first inspirations in the field of education and his work with Jay McTigue on the Understanding by Design framework transformed the way I thought about curriculum as both a teacher and administrator.  Because of my personal level of belief in the efficacy of starting with the end in mind and the goal of transfer of knowledge, when I taught graduate level courses in curriculum development, I required “Understanding by Design” as the mandatory reading.  It was also the basis for the coursework.

In later years, many of my colleagues and I faithfully made time to read Grant’s blog.  In fact, his was one of the few that I regularly followed.  His willingness to take on any topic and to respectfully but strongly disagree with some of the most prominent figures made my admiration for him grow.   I will truly miss Grant’s blog and his regular contributions to the field of education.  I will remember him as one of the most forward thinking researchers the field and someone who changed education for the better.  Thank you Dr. Wiggins.

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Summer is a great time to catch up on professional reading.  I just finished an amazing new book by Allison Zmuda, Greg Curtis and Diane Ullman.  The title is “Learning Personalized:  The Evolution of the Contemporary Classroom”.  I highly recommend this one for all educators.  Check it out!  Here is the description from Amazon:

A real-world action plan for educators to create personalized learning experiences Learning Personalized: The Evolution of the Contemporary Classroom provides teachers, administrators, and educational leaders with a clear and practical guide to personalized learning. Written by respected teachers and leading educational consultants Allison Zmuda, Greg Curtis, and Diane Ullman, this comprehensive resource explores what personalized learning looks like, how it changes the roles and responsibilities of every stakeholder, and why it inspires innovation. The authors explain that, in order to create highly effective personalized learning experiences, a new instructional design is required that is based loosely on the traditional model of apprenticeship: learning by doing. Learning Personalized challenges educators to rethink the fundamental principles of schooling that honors students’ natural willingness to play, problem solve, fail, re-imagine, and share. This groundbreaking resource: * Explores the elements of personalized learning and offers a framework to achieve it *

Provides a roadmap for enrolling relevant stakeholders to create a personalized learning vision and reimagine new roles and responsibilities * Addresses needs and provides guidance specific to the job descriptions of various types of educators, administrators, and other staff This invaluable educational resource explores a simple framework for personalized learning: co-creation, feedback, sharing, and learning that is as powerful for a teacher to re-examine classroom practice as it is for a curriculum director to reexamine the structure of courses.

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The annual summer conference on Teaching Excellence was held in Nashville, Tennessee from June 26-28.  As usual, it was an amazing conference filled with great presenters and great practical ideas for teachers and leaders.  I had the distinct honor to present a session with Dr. Michael McDowell titled “Developing Leadership:  Visible Learning Mind Frames”.  Our session description was as follows:

Tamalpais Leadership Collaborative is a leadership model developed in 2010 that encourages all school members to model what is expected at each level of the organization to enhance the system wide academic performance of all students.  Through this presentation, participants will learn how to embed Visible Learning mind frames and research across a school system, understand the implementation pathway (introduction, initiation, application, and capacity building) for the relational and tactical aspects of leadership development, and review implementation milestones and challenges associated with leadership work.

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The Tamalpais Union High School District is committed to providing meaningful, relevant and rigorous learning experiences for our students so they are prepared for college and career options.  Student achievement data gives us insight into what is working and helps us to identify areas for continued growth.  At TUHSD, we monitor many types of student data including state and national test scores as well as our own local measures of growth and proficiency.  One data set of importance to staff and to our community is participation and success in our Advanced Placement (AP) courses and exams.  AP courses give students access to rigorous college-level work while in high school with the support of their high school teachers and peers.  A passing score on an AP exam can give students college credit and/or placement into advanced courses in college.

Participation in the TUHSD Advanced Placement program has grown tremendously over the past five years.  In 2010, we administered 1,482 AP exams and this number has grown to 2,100 exams in 2014.  This is a 42% increase!  It is notable we have also maintained extremely high pass rates with scores significantly above state and national averages.  In 2010, 83% of those who took an AP exam earned a passing score of a 3, 4 or 5.  Similarly, in 2014, 84% of students who took an AP exam earned a passing score.  The national average for students with a passing score is about 60%.

An abundance of research shows that a student’s experience with Advanced Placement is connected to success in college.  A few interesting research highlights include:

  • Hargrove & Dodd (2007) found that students who successfully participated in at least one AP course and exam had higher college GPAs, earned more credit hours, and were more likely to graduate in four years than students from similar family economic status and with similar academic ability.
  • A study by Dougherty, Mellor &Jian (2005) found that students who scored a 3 or better on an AP exam were significantly more likely to graduate from college than their peers.

TUHSD currently offers course work to support 18 Advanced Placement exams.  The programs with the largest number of participants are English Language and Composition, Calculus, Environmental Science, European History, and Biology.

Each Advanced Placement course is developed at the national level by a committee composed of college faculty and high school AP teachers, and covers the breadth of information, skills, and assignments found in the corresponding college course.  AP courses at TUHSD are taught by our own highly qualified and talented teachers who participate in specific professional development so they are best equipped to teach students advanced, college level content.

The Advanced Placement program is just one more example of the rigorous programs offered for the students at TUHSD.  For more information regarding course offerings at your school please contact your counselor or principal.  For more information regarding the TUHSD Advanced Placement data, please contact Senior Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Kim Stiffler, at kstiffler@tamdistrict.org

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