Learning Problem

The Tamalpais Union High School District(TUHSD) comprises three comprehensive high schools, a continuation school, and an independent studies school. As an affluent District where the students are mostly white and upper middle class, the District has not had much outside influence to change practice or to examine curriculum. Courses have been developed over the years, and each site, and indeed each classroom, has more or less been allowed to act independently. As the demographics shift slightly and more students are not successful, and a new leadership is demanding a guaranteed and viable curriculum, teachers are being asked for the first time to collaborate across sites using the Schooling by Design (SbD) and Understanding by Design(UbD) frameworks (McTighe and Wiggins) to create essential questions, enduring understandings and cornerstone assessments for each course we teach. There are approximately 325 teachers of varying backgrounds in the District,

Due to budget constraints, the District does not allocate much time or money for the training and collaboration that is necessary for this work, and the teachers have a wide variety of training on using SbD/UbD to develop and refine curriculum. In addition, the one-shot training on the structure has not led to real understanding and learning about collaborating to revise curriculum. Each campus does have (or will after this summer) have a Lab Classroom, outfitted with collaboration spaces, computers and video conferencing capabilities. The learning needs are:
  1. Teachers with little or no experience with UbD and SbD methodology need access to training and materials.
  2. Teachers need a space to share the good work that has been done so far as well and also need a space to collaborate on and co-construct new curriculum.
  3. Administrators and teacher leaders need to help facilitate and moderate so that the learning and sharing is appropriate and moving in the direction laid out by the District Office.

While providing resources and training information is important, in order for curriculum to be created that is agreed-upon and used by all teachers in the District, the learning for the teachers has to go beyond training - teachers need to co-construct meaning of a guaranteed and viable curriculum, and then need to collaborate in a meaningful way to create and refine it. Teachers have broad experiences and can and should learn from those experiences, and can and should learn from each other. One of the best ways to co-create that curriculum is through the Japanese lesson study model - groups of teachers create lessons and then watch each other present them, refining them as they go. Another way is to use common assessments to determine student learning, and then to collaborate to analyze the results and make plans to change the curriculum or instruction to maximize student learning. Because the opportunity to be physically present for collaboration is so minimal, a wiki space is the chosen e-learning tool in this situation, and would allow for teachers to study and learn from each other from a distance, while continuing to learn from their experiences and refine their work. See the Why a Wiki? page for more explanation.