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Rigor, Relevance and Relationships. Hawaii Department of Education Honolulu, HI January 22-23, 2007. Dr. Mimi Dyer. Academy of Math, Science & Technology. Cobb County Schools. Just north of Atlanta, GA 2 nd largest school district in state

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Rigor, Relevance and Relationships

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Rigor, Relevance and Relationships

Hawaii Department of Education

Honolulu, HI

January 22-23, 2007

Dr. Mimi Dyer

Academy of Math, Science & Technology

Cobb County Schools

  • Just north of Atlanta, GA

  • 2nd largest school district in state

  • 30th largest in nation

  • 106,000 students (+2,500/yr)

  • 16 high schools

  • 23 middle schools

  • 68 elementary schools

KMHS Profile

  • Opened in 2000 with 1250 students

  • 2006-7 population – 3,100

  • 319,000 sq. ft. instructional space on 79 acres

  • 118 core and 165 elective courses on 4x4 block schedule

  • 23 AP courses – 340 students/505 tests

Extracurricular Activities

  • 90% of students involved

  • 22 athletic teams

  • Drama – 225 students

  • Marching Band – 340 students

  • 51 clubs

    • RoboticsInternational

    • RecreationYugiyo

    • PhilosophyEquestrian

    • Men of Distinction

21st Century Skills

  • Communication and Information skills

  • Thinking and Problem Solving skills

  • Interpersonal and Self-Directional skills

  • Collaboration skills




Building a Learning Community

“…where collective aspiration is set free and where people are continually learning how to learn together.”

Peter Senge


Students: Empowerment and service learning

Teachers: Rigorous and relevant curriculum

Community: Engagement


Andrew J. Carter

  • Average kid in middle school

  • Outside looking in at robotics

  • Tried out for lacrosse

  • Loving technical theater this year

  • Now taking one honors class, hoping to go on to AP

“A. J.”

Everybody Counts or Nobody Counts

Student Empowerment

How can we show responsibility

if no one gives us a chance to be responsible?

Service Learning

  • Mustangs with a Heart

  • Shop with a Mustang

  • Relay for Life

  • R.I.S.E. and M.I.S.E.

  • Kennesaw Youth Council

  • Care-o-Therapy

  • Tutoring

  • Class of 2006 logged over 10,000 hours



Character Education



“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. . . Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Once a Month Special Activity

  • 110 community leaders teach lessons

  • 99 KMHS seniors teach freshman classes

  • 66 KMHS seniors teach elementary and middle feeder school classes

  • Bullard Elementary students followed their leaders

Lessons Learned

Successful schools do not

sidestep the issue of character

education; rather, they embrace it.

They acknowledge that their

success is due, in large measure,

to their attention to guiding

principles, through which they create a

supportive learning environment.


Rigorous and Relevant Instruction

Student focused

Engaging project-based activities

Integrated curriculum

Multiple resources

Problem solving

Interaction with experts

Performance-based assessment

Virtual Labs

Writing workshops

Primary resources

Tomorrow’s Classroom


Do you recognize this teacher?

Changing the Paradigm of Teaching and Learning

  • Active engagement in learning

  • Primary and dynamic resources

  • Application of knowledge

  • Performance-based assessment

Vision and Implementation

“There are no teachers with correct answers, only guides with different areas of expertise and experience that may help along the way.”

~ Peter Senge and Fred Kofman, 1995

Flip the funnel

How do we get R/R framework into our classrooms?

  • Professional collaborative conversations

    • Common vocabulary used consistently

    • Professional Development Groups

    • Faculty meetings

    • Snack ‘n Shares

    • Subject-specific collaborative groups

  • Core teachers within each dept. as mentors

  • Nurture relationships with teachers who show potential

  • Share philosophy with kids

    • Make them part of expectations and celebrations



Building Stakeholder Commitment

“Leaders must envision the future and then create the conditions for others to build a common vision together—one based on ideal and unique images of a common future.”

~Kouzes & Posner, 2002

“When people truly share a vision, they are connected, bound together by a common aspiration.”

~ Peter Senge, 1990

Community Partners

  • 250 total for school

  • Local churches, businesses, colleges/universities, technical schools, governments

  • Advisory committees for departments, academies, athletics, extracurriculars

  • Financial and in-kind donations and contributions

  • Assist in curriculum development

  • Mentor students throughout school

  • Kennesaw Business Association

  • PTSA

  • Golden Kiwanis

  • Local churches

  • City government

  • Parents – open communication

Rigor and Relevance

“Individuals learn best when the content is meaningful to them and they have opportunities for social interaction and the environment supports the learning.”

~Ron Brandt, 2003

Conceptual Physics

Vision Quest:

Personal Achievement

Celebration of PersonalAcademic Excellence

  • Process that encourages academic excellence, improvement, citizenship

  • Goal: To increase student performance and teacher enthusiasm

  • Recognizes, rewards, and reinforces good grades and good character for each and every student


  • Most Wanted (top 10 seniors)

  • Classroom medals

  • Academic pep rally

  • Academic scholar tee shirts (FBI)

  • Honor Cards

Honor Cards

Honor Cards

  • Gold: 4.0 GPA, 3 absences and 3 tardies

  • Silver: 3.5 GPA, 3 absences and 3 tardies

  • Green: 3.0 GPA, 3 absences and 3 tardies

  • No discipline records

High Five Club

  • Recognizes students, regardless of GPA, for improving academic record

  • Students who increase their GPA between semesters by .5

  • Tee shirt and various business discounts

Lessons Learned

  • Increased student attendance

  • Improved overall academic performance

  • Kids believe that it’s cool to be smart!

Student Recognition

  • Fall 2005, 1256 students recognized

  • Fall 2006, 2240 students recognized

Putting it all Together

  • Students +

  • Teachers +

  • Community members =

    Lessons in the D Quadrant:

    Rigor, Relevance and Relationships



Dr. Mimi Dyer


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