Core Program Synchronizes English and Social Studies

Next year, Tamalpais High School freshman English and social studies teachers will be paired up to teach shared groups of students for two years in a row. The program, called Core, is similar to the core class at Mill Valley Middle School. English and social studies classes will be more coordinated.The goal of the program is to start with essential questions in both English and social studies as a way of planning what teachers want students to understand at the end of each unit and at the end of the school year.

“It is going to create a deep, academic, intellectual learning,” said English teacher Michael Pollard-Krause. The teaching method emphasized in the core program is called “Understanding by Design.”

Paired classes will also integrate both subject matter and personal identity, especially during freshman year. “A lot of ninth grade is about studying who you are,” English teacher David Tarpinian said. Tarpinian also said that the curriculum will consist of many multimedia projects and will provide students with more opportunities to express who they are.

In addition, the teachers will be able to get to know their students more and will be able to talk to their partner teacher about students’ strengths and weaknesses. “You can create a highly personalized classroom environment because you get to know students really well [across two years],” Tarpinian said.

Sophomore Daron Austin said that he would have liked to be part of this program because “you get to have the experience of getting to know people better”.

“I think it would be interesting to see how they combine [English and social studies] classes,” freshman Maddie Elias said.

Only freshmen will participate in core for the 2010-2011 school year. These students will continue with the program their sophomore year in the 2011-2012 school year when the next class of freshmen will enter.

Although the plan is confirmed, the exact curriculum is still to be determined. The teachers participating in the program will be David Tarpinian, David Rice, Abbey Levine, Jennifer Dolan, and others still to be named.

Written by Talia Soffer. Appears in the April 2010 Version of The Tam News.