The New School Year: Innovation, Collaboration, Experiential Learning….Excitement!

I always enjoy the start of the school year. Watching the new students integrate into the College Prep community with their energy and enthusiasm gives me great optimism for the future. But it’s not just the students that bring a sense of renewal and joy to campus. The adults play a large part, too.

Our first faculty meeting of the year was quite inspiring. What I enjoyed most was all of the innovation and creative thinking happening at College Prep.

    • We heard reports from our first foray into extended off-campus applied learning, a three-part scientific research course led by Dr. Eva Campodonico that includes a research/methods class in the spring, followed by a summer internship in a science lab, and concluding with a data analysis and discussion class this fall. Eight students were placed this summer in labs ranging from UC Berkeley to Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute to UMass Amherst. The program has been very well received and is heading into a second cycle with great interest.
    • We heard about College Prep’s partnership with four other schools (Athenian, Lick-Wilmerding, Marin Academy, and Urban) to create the Bay Area Blend-Ed Consortium. Each school will offer one or two one-semester elective courses starting in the fall of 2014 in which students from all five schools can participate. Potential courses include Art History (students would study content online and then meet at a Bay Area art museum each month for a collaborative experience), or perhaps a class where students meet to study the different ecosystems that exist in the bio-rich setting of the Bay Area. The courses are meant to provide more choices for students while tapping the resources of the area. The Consortium will also help our students prepare for the changing methods of instruction and communication they will see in college and in the workforce while preserving the core relational culture that lies at the heart of our schools’ educational missions.
    • This will be College Prep’s fourth year as a 1-to-1 laptop school, alleviating the need for traditional computer labs. Instead, the main computer lab has been converted into the mysteriously named “X-Lab,” which is a place for design projects and hands-on learning, and includes a 3-D printer, a laser cutter, a place for robotics as well as other unknown projects to be dreamed up by the faculty and students. It includes an electronics station, where students can test electronics, solder, and build circuits. There’s an animation station that can be used for making simple stop-motion animations or for close-up photography. And it is not just for electronics and digital tools. It’s a space for making all kinds of things. Here are some photos of the new space:

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All in all, the energy at school feels fresh, creative, and collaborative. It’s very exciting stuff!

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