Call for Creative Educators!

By | 2015-02-18T20:35:24+00:00 February 18th, 2015|Uncategorized|

Do YOU BELIEVE in US?? Then we need YOU at Building 21! Building 21 is now hiring for Fall 2015! Are you a creative teacher who is passionate about learning and wants to rethink what is possible in high school -- or do you know someone who is?  Then Building 21 may be [...]

Π Day Epiphanies

By | 2014-06-02T20:47:32+00:00 June 2nd, 2014|Miscellaneous, Uncategorized|

On 3.14 this year, I sent an email to the team wishing everyone a Happy Pi Day. For fun, I threw in a little brain teaser: what other day of the year could stand in and serve as Pi Day and why? I’m so glad I chose to do that. What a delight! I didn't [...]

Competency-Based Grading

By | 2017-04-06T00:05:01+00:00 May 22nd, 2014|Miscellaneous, Uncategorized|

We recently revisited the question, "Why competency-based education?" as a way to step back from our work. As Chip puts it, "Nothing is sacred." We believe that what we are doing transcends any model or method. They are just vehicles to realize our vision. Currently, I am neck deep in the process of envisioning a [...]

Learning Through Doing: Grammar

By | 2014-03-06T02:59:16+00:00 March 6th, 2014|Learning model, Uncategorized|

The Wrong Way to Teach Grammar Boston Public Library/Wikimedia Commons This recent piece in The Atlantic makes a compelling case for interest-based learning. Instead of forcing students to master a set of mundane grammatical rules before getting to the "fun" part of writing about things they are interested in, we should throw them [...]

Using Design Thinking in Education

By | 2014-02-21T23:09:37+00:00 February 21st, 2014|School design, Uncategorized|

If I had to pick a video that explains in an approximate way what we're seeking to do at Building 21 in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, this would be it. I enjoyed the entire sixteen and three-quarter minutes of it and was especially fond of Studio H's 6 Design Directives which can be [...]

Competency vs. Mastery vs. Proficiency

By | 2014-02-21T23:08:24+00:00 February 21st, 2014|Uncategorized|

I am knee deep in the competency world and have read everything I can find about how to define this work.  Is it Competency-based education, or Mastery-based Education or Proficiency-based Education?  All of these terms are being used interchangeably, but do they really mean the same thing?  I don’t think that they do. Here is [...]

A Vote of Confidence and an Awesome Responsibility

By | 2014-02-21T23:06:48+00:00 February 21st, 2014|Community, Uncategorized|

  Tonight, Resolution A-11 authorizing the opening of the first Building 21 high school was unanimously approved by the School Reform Commission of the School District of Philadelphia.  We appreciate this vote of confidence as well as all of the support we have received from individuals at every level of the School District.     [...]

Design Thinking Toolkit

By | 2014-02-04T17:00:38+00:00 February 4th, 2014|School design, Uncategorized|

We're currently engaged in a design process as outlined by the Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit. This is a terrific resource that explains a process for design in very clear, concise and accessible terms. There are 5 stages of the process (see image from p.15 below): Discover, Interpretation, Ideation, Experimentation and Evolution. The toolkit is [...]