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Student leadership: Allowing students to have real agency

Posted by on Apr 7, 2016 in General | No Comments

Many schools claim to give students leadership opportunities, but in many ways, these opportunities are just fa├žades. Teachers say students are leading, but in reality, the adults are doing a lot of work behind the scenes. At the Workshop School, teachers make sure that the “behind the scenes” work is student-led as well because if we want students to really learn, they must be involved in every step of the process, not just the end product.…

Rethinking the achievement gap (Part 3)

Posted by on Apr 1, 2016 in General | No Comments

We focus intently on the achievement gap because we see closing it as the best way to combat poverty and inequality. As I argued here and here, this gets us into trouble when we define achievement too narrowly. But it actually┬áoversimplifies poverty and inequality even more than it oversimplifies learning.…

Rethinking the achievement gap (Part 2)

Posted by on Mar 21, 2016 in General | No Comments

I didn’t really know it at the time, but this graph would change the way I thought about the achievement gap.

CWRA result

Before opening the Workshop School, for two years we ran a small pilot project called the Sustainability Workshop. It was basically an alternative senior year program. We enrolled about 30 seniors a year from three neighborhood high schools, and ran them through an intensive one-year, project-based experience.…

PYP Young Voice: Ajah Smith

Posted by on Mar 21, 2016 in General | No Comments

Every year, our 9th grade students write monologues in English class and submit them to the Philadelphia Young Playwrights’ Young Voices Monologue Festival. This year, 21 pieces were selected from more than 400 submissions to be performed by professionals, including Ajah Smith’s “Death is Coming”. Check it out!

Rethinking the achievement gap (Part 1)

Posted by on Mar 19, 2016 in General | No Comments

There are a lot of ways to think about equity, and a lot of ways to think about achievement. In ed reform world, the most common is what we call the achievement gap: the quantifiable difference in test performance between poor and middle class kids. This concept has done a lot of good in highlighting inequities in our school systems, and creating a sense of urgency for change.

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

Posted by on Mar 16, 2016 in General | No Comments

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.…

Videos: What works and what needs work

Posted by on Mar 14, 2016 in General | No Comments

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.…

Dream It, Design It, Do It

Posted by on Mar 9, 2016 in General | No Comments

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.…

Books For Students, By Students

Posted by on Mar 7, 2016 in General | No Comments

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.…

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

Posted by on Mar 2, 2016 in General | No Comments

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.…