AltSchool Hub

Post-Election Resources for Parents and Teachers

Posted by The AltSchool Team

Nov 9, 2016 4:17:53 PM

Voted Stickers.png

Like many schools around the nation, our students have been learning about voting and the political process over the past few months. Our teaching community has been focused on creating open and supportive environments for students to bring their questions and wonderings to light, as they explored the often divisive 2016 presidential election. Going into November, we knew that half of the country was going to be unhappy with the outcome. That’s why we believe students should have the appropriate framing and closure to the election cycle to support their understanding and continued role in shaping our country’s future.

Today, our educator team strived to arm students with age-appropriate knowledge and, when needed, coping strategies. As educators, and as parents, we wanted to share some of those tools and resources we’ve found to be helpful in our classrooms.

  • Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, provides a wealth of resources to support the Election 2016 conversation and beyond.
  • Huffington Post’s What Do We Tell the Children? highlights three concrete ways to support our students: tell them we will protect them, we will honor the outcome, and we will guide and support them in becoming responsible members of our democratic society.
  • The Zinn Education Project offers middle and high school centered lessons on illuminating the complexity within our country’s history.
  • Teaching for Change provides teachers and parents with the tools to create schools where students learn to read, write and change the world. The site includes recommendations for early childhood anti-bias education, including articles as well as book lists for children and adults.

We are hopeful that these resources help bring children and adults closer together both as a community and a country.

Read More

Topics: Learning in the Community, Parents, Community

San Francisco Homeless Project and Two Inspiring AltSchool Students

Posted by The AltSchool Team

Jun 29, 2016 11:02:50 AM

altschool_homelessness_project.png

This week we’re witnessing an unprecedented collaboration of over 70 local news organizations coming together to highlight homelessness in the Bay Area. Starting today, you’ll see the topic take center stage, with everyone from KQED to the San Francisco Chronicle tackling the problem and discussing options.

AltSchool is proud to share some incredible work around homelessness by two Fort Mason middle school students. Inspired by the people and places they encounter within their own communities every day, Ethan and Gio began a many-months journey -- one that took them from the classroom, to a field-trip at Marc Roth’s The Learning Shelter program, and ultimately to a TEDx stage where they shared their vision for a “tiny home” prototype.

altschool_homelessness_project_tedx.png

Ethan and Gio were so personally affected by the plight of homeless individuals around them, they chose the problem of homelessness in the city of San Francisco as the focus for their culminating “changemaker” project.

One day after school I was driving with my mother,” Ethan shared. “We went past a parking lot near 16th Street and the 101 and I noticed that there were a large number of tents under the bridge… about 30 tents in all.”

Something clicked, as he realized that unlike his family, those people wouldn’t have warm beds to sleep in that night. Gio had had similar experiences living in San Francisco and shared a passion to impact homelessness in a meaningful way. As they considered the idea, they came across a powerful interview with Ronald Davis, a Chicago man who reportedly died homeless in 2014.

“You lose all your humanity shaking a cup begging,” Davis said. “At the end of the day when people go home, and everybody get on the metro train and then I just feel so bad that I can’t be going home too.” His story hit home for Ethan and Gio. Ronald Davis’ story fueled their belief that society has a responsibility to provide basic needs, safety and job opportunities to every one of its people. It shaped the kind of changemaker they wanted to become, not just as students, but as human beings.

So, they teamed up and soon discovered work by Gregory Kloehn, an artist who builds mini homeless houses in Oakland. With the guidance of their teachers, they spent many months learning, interviewing, debating, and finally developing a unique split-level tiny home on wheels that can provide security and private living space. They unveiled their 3D-printed prototypes and shared more about their project on the TEDx Youth stage last month, which we invite you to view in full here.

altschool_homelessness_project_model.png

We applaud Ethan and Gio. They embody what we are trying to teach at AltSchool: to practice empathy, identify passions, develop their voice, have accountability, and positively impact the lives of people in their community.

Read about the SF Homeless Project campaign, featuring more AltSchool middle school students, in today’s San Francisco Chronicle piece: "We can learn from kids and the empathy they have for San Francisco's homeless."

Changemakers: At AltSchool Fort Mason, the middle school class embarked on a year-long study of systems and were beginning a unit on “changemakers”; someone who can influence the evolution of today’s systems for a better future. Students were challenged to identify a system in need of change, research the problem, interview experts, and propose solutions by way of “Shark Tank” pitches, then create prototypes and work toward changing that system in a tangible way. The lesson combines interdisciplinary project-based learning, incorporating core subjects like math, social studies and writing, along with social-emotional skills like public speaking, teamwork, empathy, and more.

Read More

Topics: School, Learning in the Community, Middle School, Community

AltSchool Dogpatch’s Gala Evening of Art

Posted by Annette Bauer

Apr 28, 2016 12:23:14 PM

altschool-dogpatch-art

AltSchool Dogpatch celebrated the culmination of our Unit of Inquiry on art and self-expression by hosting a Gala Evening of Art with special guests of honor, our students and their families!  We showcased all of the hard work that our artists have been doing over the past two months, including pottery, paintings, portraits, watershed models, dioramas, and more.   

For the featured pieces, we asked each student to think about a “BIG IDEA” --a message, feeling, or thought -- that they would like to express through their art work. Students designed canvases and incorporated lines, colors, shapes, patterns and textures to best represent their ideas.The entire Dogpatch school family got a chance to celebrate learning and toast our students together in a magical evening of art, food, and fancy attire.

Check out photos from the event below!

 

IMG_5113.jpg

IMG_5436.jpg

IMG_5489.jpg

art-fair

IMG_5483.jpg

 

Read More

Topics: Dogpatch Classroom, Photos, Community

The AltSchool Student Perspective

Posted by The AltSchool Team

Apr 7, 2016 10:22:37 AM

Why is personalization important? Why do we focus on project-based learning? And most importantly, how do we prepare our students for their future?

In this video, students talk about their experiences at AltSchool, the differences between AltSchool and other schools, how personalization works for them, and their relationship with their teachers. Watch below!

 Interested in learning more? Attend an Open House.

Read More

Topics: Videos, Community

Community Matters at AltSchool

Posted by The AltSchool Team

Apr 21, 2015 12:06:10 PM

“What’s your super power?”  “What’s your favorite thing about school?” “What’s your favorite thing to do outside?”

AltSchool recently hosted a welcome day for both incoming and currently enrolled families in the Bay Area. The day was jam-packed with fun activities; from potato sack races to a brainstorming session to answer questions on post-it notes like the ones above. We had the opportunity to connect as one large AltSchool family.

lesley_blog

The Many Meanings of Community

Schools are more than just classrooms — they’re the starting point for communities of people who share values and experiences centered on growth and learning. School-based communities spur strong personal relationships that often last for years, as children and families grow together during their time in school and beyond graduation. With this in mind, AltSchool aims to foster a community that grows over time and across multiple relationships, including parents, students, families, friends, teachers, AltSchool employees, and the neighborhoods where AltSchool campuses are located.

AltSchool’s network and microschool structure allows us to build community at multiple levels — whether it’s a family maker event at a particular site or network-wide town hall. And with a deep focus on personalization, we look for ways that we can connect families according to their specific interests and skills.

Here are some of ways we foster community at AltSchool:

Town Halls: Every month AltSchool hosts a town hall for parents to come together and discuss an array of topics ranging from parent education strategies (e.g., how to continue your child's learning at home or how to prepare for high school), AltSchool’s approaches to curriculum, and new product releases for parents.

Online Communities: Each AltSchool class has an online community where educators and parents share everything from upcoming student performances, to art projects completed in class, to photos and insights from the most recent field trip.

Regular Field Trips: AltSchool classes take students on exciting field trips across the city that give them opportunities to connect with the wider community. Recent expeditions include the Exploratorium, the San Francisco Zoo, California Academy of Science and the Yerba Buena Ice Skating Center.

Family Maker Events: Maker events provide opportunities for educators, parents, and students to collaborate through building, tinkering, and learning together.

PicMonkey_Collage-4

Parent Volunteer Programs: At AltSchool, we build personalization not only into the student experience, but into the parent experience as well. Families are encouraged to share their time and resources in the ways that are most meaningful to them, from planning get-togethers, to welcoming and mentoring new families, to volunteering in the classroom as experts in their fields.

Having a strong community means a more engaging and vibrant educational experience. We encourage all family members to share their unique gifts and interests — contact us at community@altschool.com to learn more and let us know how you would like to contribute!

Read More

Topics: Parents, Community