[cross-posted from Connected Principals]

According to a College Board webinar I participated in last week via EdLeader21,  as part of its promised “revamp” of the AP toward depth over breadth and better integration of the skills and content, the College Board/ Advanced Placement program is developing a new online platform called “the AP Lifeline.”  It is intended to be a rich resource and repository of the “learning objectives” in each subject area, with mini-lectures on each and sample questions and answers.

(Click here for the College Board’s overview of their changes).

I am a bit put-off by the name: AP Lifeline? Doesn’t that almost sound as if the AP drives kids to an almost suicidal level of stress, so much so that they require being thrown a lifeline?  Now, many are concerned that this is the case (see the new film Race to Nowhere), and we all are aware that a small number of students do struggle with academic stress to the point of suicidal impulses, but it seems an odd choice by the College Board/AP to acknowledge and underscore this problem by naming their resource the “Lifeline.”  Give them points, I guess, for self-awareness rather than denial.

But how about:

  • the AP Hub?
  • AP Deeper?
  • AP Inquiry? (more…)

On Monday I enjoyed an hour-long webinar with two executives of the College Board who presented on the coming changes to the AP.  “Advanced Placement Course and Exam Redesign,” it was called, and our presenters were:

  • Auditi Chakravarty, Executive Director, Advanced Placement Curriculum & Assessment
  • Trevor Packer,Vice President, Advanced Placement Program

The webinar was an exclusive opportunity for members of the new network, EdLeader21, which I am pleased to have just joined.  Led by the founder and former President of the Partnership for 21st century skills, Ken Kay, EdLeader21 is, in the words of its website: The nation’s first professional learning community for 21st century education leaders.

The AP is of course a controversial and polarizing program in the eyes of  “21st century education” leaders and thinkers.  21st century learning heavily prioritizes thinking skills, such as critical thinking, effective communication,  and creativity far above content knowledge and memorization.   That is not to say the one is entirely at the expense of the other: great teaching and learning happens when these two are synthesized and synergized.  But the AP exam and the course of study to prep for it, particularly in History and Science, simply does not effectively blend content and thinking skills. (more…)

Following up on the previous post, in which I shared the tweets of Bo Adams to our school, it is my great pleasure to share now a link to his full post about his visit, and the video he prepared.

As an aside, I share Bo’s embrace of video communications as essential and powerful; it is my aspiration strongly to work to build up my own skills and practice so that, before too long, I am sharing my own videos in this mode.

Bo’s post at his blog, It’s About Learning,” is entitled “Demos and Tinkerers.” I urge readers to click over and read in its entirety, but here  let me quote a few passages.

There is a concerted effort – with much evidence of success – for the student learners to decrease their time in “sit-n-get” and increase their time “doing science.” From my brief exposure to science at St. Gregory, I would say that they are building a tinkering paradise.

two boys were burning leaves with a magnifying glass.  In this case, however, the StG students were fogging the space between the leaf pile and the lens. With an iPhone, the boys were recording the light cone whose finest tip was causing the burn of the foliation. As far as I could tell, they had designed this experiment. They ran into all kinds of interesting issues, and I heard them prototype their next attempt with the rest of their classmates.

from years of observation, I sensed that these students were in a routine…developing habits of mind…about hypothesizing, designing tests, and experimenting. They were practicing the scientific method, not just repeating or parroting it. They were being scientists.

Apologies for the boastfulness of this post– it is a bit awkward.   But what I am so happy about is that Bo’s observations and appreciations are about some of the very same things which also inspire me about the amazing learning which St. Gregory teachers are everyday facilitating, learning that is about doing, experimenting, prototyping, failing and correcting.

This is a topic I have written about regularly here; two posts particularly pertinent are

Thursday evening, our school hosted a screening of the documentary film Race to Nowhere and a panel discussion afterwards.  Here I am offering my own first reactions to the film; in subsequent posts I intend to share some of our panelists’ responses and explore the suggestions from the film’s website, End the Race.

The film asks and addresses what are for this parent and educator some of the most central and essential questions about K-12 education and child-raising; it does so in ways stimulating, provocative, compelling, redundant, one-sided, and emotionally manipulative.

The essential questions, then, to my observation, in the film include the following:

  • What is K-12 education’s  ultimate purpose?
  • What is the role of happiness and self-fulfillment (or self-actualization as our panelist Dr. Davis asked) in the priorities of K-12 education? (more…)