Category Archives: Technology

An Hour in the Life of College Prep

2:45 pm this Thursday. I’m at my desk, tired of looking at a computer screen, so I grab my camera and start walking around campus. I hear that Ms. Kolluri’s AP Computer Science class is building arduinos! I had never heard of an arduino until this summer, when Ms. Kolluri excitedly told me about all the cool things you can do with them.

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Bay Area Blend-Ed Consortium Course Announcements

Bay Area BlendEdExciting news! I wrote earlier about the official announcement of the Bay Area BlendEd Consortium. The group consists of five local independent schools: College Prep, Athenian, Lick-Wilmerding, Marin Academy, and Urban. Students from each school will be able to enroll in courses that will have online delivery components as well as regular in-person meetings and field trips. The Consortium will take advantage of the resources and personnel at each of these great schools while making use of the entire Bay Area as a potential classroom and learning environment.  We are  thrilled to announce the first round of course offerings. In all, 10 classes will be offered next year, five in the fall and five in the spring. In Fall 2014, the following classes will be offered:

Climate Change: Scientific Principles, Impacts, and Human Responses

Some scientists and politicians have identified climate change as the single greatest issue that humans will grapple with in our lifetimes. This class will study scientific principles that govern earth’s atmosphere, see how humans are affecting earth’s energy balance, and explore how human-caused changes will likely affect earth systems in the future. In addition to thoroughly studying the science behind climate change, we will look at how economists respond to global warming and offer strategies to address climate change. Similarly, we’ll examine political proposals to address climate change, on a local, national, and global level. We will interview people in the governmental, energy, and non-profit world to see how the approach the problem from different perspectives

Field Study Photography & Bay Area History

The class will explore the history of the Bay Area through a group photo project. Through readings, discussions, and student interests, the class will decide on a central theme relevant to the Bay Area. Each student will explore that theme through a photo and research project in their own area. Together, we will produce a website and an exhibition that covers the diversity and personality of the Bay Area while showing its past and present. Potential themes could be the housing crisis, racial tension, or transportation. Face to face meetings will include a trip to the Mission District of San Francisco as a case study, one or two photo field trips to locations connected to the class-selected theme, a studio visit with a photographer, and a culminating group critique and editing session.

Literature of the Golden Gate

How well do you know the place you call home?  What does it mean to be a Northern Californian? An inhabitant of the Bay Area?  This English elective will take an interdisciplinary approach to the natural and human history and to the literature of the greater Bay Area.  We will begin with a look at the geological processes that created this region and the natural environment humans encountered when first arriving.  In these points of origins we will look for metaphor and theme to connect with the human experience in the area.  We will look at our unique place on earth and the record of it.  In addition to keeping a reflection journal, we will explore other forms of writing, including a place essay, poetry and fiction. Face-to-face meetings will include urban, suburban and natural outings. This course will also have regular online office hours and online group meetings.

Race, Place, & Toxics

Race relations, environmental hazards, and natural disasters intersect everyday news stories, which reveal the social inequities and injustices that exist locally and across the globe  – stories of toxic waste, water scarcity,  and health disparities. Culture, race, class, and geoscience are at the heart of many of these issues.

This course will explore the environmental hazards faced by some Bay Area communities and under-represented people around the globe. We will investigate the cumulative impact environmental and resource inequities have on health. To mitigate the disparities, we will examine concepts, processes, and practices in geoscience, environmental science, ethics, and public health.

During our face-to-face sessions we will be touring hazardous sites around the Bay, meeting with environmental justice advocates, participating in habitat restoration activities, and educating peers at a culminating event.  Students will be expected to think critically and scientifically about the causes of environmental inequities and to propose solutions that can help all people enjoy equitable protection from environmental health hazards regardless of race, national origin, or economic status.

Web Design & Development

This course is a semester-long introduction to web design, programming, and online media. Course topics include web aesthetics, adaptive interface design, browser compatibility, streaming media, site architecture, project management, and essential programming concepts in HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript. Students will gain the knowledge and skills necessary to create a range of web sites and dynamic media for web publication. Students will work on both individual and team projects, ultimately forming production teams that will collaborate to meet the web needs of local non-profit organizations. Our face-to-face sessions will be dedicated to visiting local web companies, meeting with our non-profit clients, and presenting student portfolios at a culminating event. There will also be regular virtual meetings for office hours, group collaboration, and mentoring sessions with guest experts in project management, graphic design, and programming.

New Classes for Spring 2014

I find it rather remarkable that a school with 363 students can offer 100 unique courses each school year, but that’s just what we do at College Prep. Students recently submitted their course selections for Spring 2014, which gave teachers of brand new courses a chance to discuss their classes during a “course shopping” period. Among the courses being offered for the very first time at College Prep are the two English seminars and two history seminars described below. Admittedly, I could read interesting course descriptions like these all day, but it shows the depth and breadth of the offerings at College Prep. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

College Prep Announces New Student Laptop Program for Class of 2014

The explosive growth in the use of information technology throughout the College Prep community has been part of a world-wide phenomenon.  Some of that growth at Prep has been intentional and well managed, like the long-standing faculty laptop program that has resulted in exciting curricular developments.  The on-campus explosion of student-laptop use (250 and counting!) represents a different sort of growth: inconsistent and underutilized.  Beginning next year, we will start very deliberately coordinating faculty and student laptop programs by initiating an inclusive, standardized laptop program for the Class of 2014 (and subsequent classes). Continue reading