What brings us together? Stories, food, and stories about food

On Thursday, March 10th, Urban Nutrition‘s Miki Palchick spoke to the Workshop School Home School Alliance about the importance of eating and cooking well. Miki shared easy, nutritious recipes with the HSA, and conducted a cooking demonstration with students. Additionally, Miki talked about how we are all connected through food. Students and guardians shared stories about their culture and heritage by recalling memories about their grandparents’ and relatives’ favorite dishes. As we enjoyed spicy chickpeas and vegetable couscous, the HSA told stories about their families’ cultural traditions from places such as the American South, Puerto Rico, and Northern Africa. At the end of the demonstration, Miki gave the group spices and recipes to take home to share with their families. IMG_0744


Videos: What works and what needs work

After Q2 Exhibitions, our students took a week-long break before immersing themselves in their Q3 projects. During that week, they took field trips, rebuilt their advisory cultures, and created short videos showcasing their perspectives on what we do well at the Workshop School – and what we don’t do so well. These videos were primarily intended to spark conversation and reflection in our community and help students connect across different advisories and grade levels.

We showed the best videos from each advisories to our students and asked them to vote on the best in each category. Check out what our students have to say!

What Works

Cesar Ramirez, Tajair Delbridge, Tanaejia Jackson-Clark, Jeff Holden (Dr. Clapper, 11th/12th grade)

What Needs Work

Asidah Griffin, Lior Lefkovitz, Samiere Young, Bash Riley, Sikia Williams, Maurice Chavis (Ms. Melville, 9th grade)

Dream It, Design It, Do It

This winter Ms. Rowe’s advisory discussed the need for a peer mediation program at the Workshop School. Students desired to resolve conflicts on their own, and believed a program like this could help students who were struggling to get along with their peers. The school has never had a peer mediation program, and appeared to not have the physical space needed to hold confidential mediations between students. However, Ms. Rowe’s students realized their large classroom could house a small mediation room, so they designed a room that would fit inside of their own advisory. While some of Ms. Rowe’s students have been constructing the room this past month, other students are being trained twice per week to be peer mediators. The program will be run entirely by students, and will be fully functioning this spring.20160225_093254


Books For Students, By Students

Ms. Melville’s 9th grade advisory know that stories are powerful: they tell us about our world, our selves, and our possibilities. When they looked for good books to share with a class of 2nd grade students at nearby Powel Elementary, though, they noticed that many children’s books don’t reflect their experiences. To explore what makes for engaging books, students read and reviewed a children’s book that resonated with them. Then they used what they learned to write and illustrate their own culturally relevant book for the 2nd graders at Powel.

Read student reviews by Tyasia Fuller, Cameron Swann, Kareem Coleman, and Samiere Young, published in The Notebook!

The last 5 days at the Workshop School? Limitless Possibilities are a Reality

What has happened in the last 5 days at the Workshop School?

-9th graders attended the smash-hit Hamilton . (2/24)
-11th graders professionally painted a car using the latest technology. (2/25)
-Teachers engaged in thoughtful conversations about how to be a caring, consistent advisor. (2/26)
-9th graders designed, implemented, and led a tour of Philadelphia’s Underground Railroad. (2/27)
-10th graders continued to construct their own peer-mediation room while being trained on how to be peer mediators. (2/29)
-Students across the school engaged in challenging projects such as creating oral histories, investigating nutrition and diet, and planning their own school-wide open-mic night. (3/1)

When students and teachers are trusted to be leaders in their own academic explorations, the possibilities are endless. IMG_3309

First City-Wide Abilities Panel Hosted at Workshop School

On Tuesday, February 16, 2016 Megan Hayden and Adin Michelen organized the first School District of Philadelphia Abilities Panel. Ms. Meg and Mr. Adin invited SDP graduates and students to discuss their learning (dis)abilities. Parents, teachers, and students engaged in dialogue about the consequences of being labeled “learning disabled”, and how we as a community can come together to support all types of learners, no matter their learning style. The Workshop School was proud to host this city-wide event, and looks forward to organizing more in the future. Congratulations Ms. Hayden and Mr. Michelen!



Sit down to take your geometry test!

Across the city, students may be told to sit down to take their latest math exam, but at the Workshop School, students have demonstrated their geometric acumen by constructing chairs. Students in Mr. Lauterbach’s math class designed and built chairs after studying geometric principles regarding angles and shapes. Instead of proving a theorem with pencil and paper, Workshop Students’ skills were applied first in TinkerCad, an online design tool, and then in the shop. Below, you can see as few of the students’ amazing products. Pottery Barn: Watch out!




HSA Organizes Summer Opportunities Fair

The Home School Alliance organized a Summer Opportunities Fair on February 12, 2016. Over 20 representatives from various organizations spoke to Workshop School students, discussing both paid and unpaid internships and experiences that are available to teens throughout the city. Furthermore, 8 HSA volunteers coached over 50 Workshop School students in mock-interviews that ran concurrent to the Opportunities Fair. The volunteers wanted to give students feedback on their interviewing skills before stepping into an official interview. All of the representatives and volunteers were invited to an appreciation lunch after the event. We thank all of our partners for their time and energy, especially as we continue to assist students as they find summer employment and enrichment.



PhillyGoes2College Encourages, Teaches Workshop School Familes

Mr. Tobias speaks to families about scholarships which help pay for college.

Mr. Tobias speaks to families about scholarships which help pay for college.

On Thursday, January 14th, Workshop School counselor Jere Tobias invited PhillyGoes2College to speak to students and families at the Home and School Association Meeting about how they can start planning financially to go to college. Undoubtedly, there are many complicated forms and procedures for students who are applying to scholarships and financial aid, but the PG2C representative, along with Mr. Tobias, broke-down the essentials for everyone in the crowd. Although the HSA meeting was dominated by 11th and 12th grade students and families, the Workshop School was incredibly proud of their 9th and 10th grade students and families who attended the meeting to get a head-start on the college application and payment process.
Families listen to the PhillyGoes2College representative.

Families listen to the PhillyGoes2College representative.

Heard in the “teachers’ lounge”

Well, not really. We have one little office with a six-person conference table. There are fourĀ of us who share it as workspace (including the Principal), but it’s also the place where staff come during prep, and therefore doubles as the “teachers’ lounge.” (And besides, “teachers’ lounge” has certain connotations. Like, for example, the suggestion that teachers are “lounging.” So no, not really a teachers’ lounge at all.)

But anyway, one of the great things about all of us having to cram into this little space is that our conversations kind of smash into one another. And more often than not, the discussions are amazing.

Over the course of a couple of hours yesterday, we talked about:

  1. How to transform successful projects into long-term, school-based programs that students could choose to opt into. Imagine an 11th grade roster that included two hours working for the school newspaper, two hours with the EVX team, and a community college English class.
  2. How we might rethink high school learning progressions to focus first on community membership, then on project design and management, and finally on having students design, implement and grow projects tied to internship experiences.
  3. Ways to rethink our 10th grade Gateway process go better predict which students would succeed with different components of our “Upper House” like internships, college classes, or student-designed projects.

None of this was planned or programmed. None of it was initiated by me. And yet over the course of an afternoon, we all learned a lot just by being immersed in the work, asking questions, and sharing insights.

The best part for me is knowing that these aren’t hypothetical conversations. We learn by working on the school. It is our project. And as much as summer institutes or weekly “un-PD” sessions, it is through these informal conversations that we continue to evolve.