Most traditional high schools teach their subject matter in separate classes and rooms. English (reading and writing) is separate from science (how the universe works) is separate from history (mostly stuff that happened before you were born).
At Revolution School, learning doesn’t have such firm boundaries. Instead, you work together to tackle big questions and do real work in the world around you. Because you’re always learning in context, you’ll not only understand what you’re learning, but why. This makes it matter—and when learning matters, material sticks.
Our school will have two Semesters, with a three-week Launch Stage to set students up for success. We know that breaking down the walls between learning and life looks different from many school experiences our students have had. We teach the practical skills you’ll need, like using public transportation efficiently and organizing information from multiple places. We’ll also explicitly teach our school-wide norms, including how we address one another and the distinct roles we each play.
Here’s how a year looks:
September: Launch Stage
October-February: Semester 1 (yes, of course there’s a break for the holidays)
March-June: Semester 2
The Launch Stage is an opportunity for students to create new habits of critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, empathy, and problem-solving. Each day will include excursions into the city where students will get to see the history, be introduced to statistical storytelling, will connect to literature, and engage in questions around identity and belonging.
Reflection is at the centre of this process, as we employ the National Geographic framework of ASK, embedding attitude, skills and knowledge into inquiry, as students consider their individual learning habits and preferences.
The Launch Stage will conclude with our Back to School night, where students will share what they learned and documented, in the form of photo, audio, video and artifact. Together, they and the faculty will present to families their thinking on ‘How do I make this city my school’?
We’ve designed the academic week to provide just the right amounts of structure and flexibility to help you work the way you work best. If you’re more of a visual learner, you can check out our sample school week schedule here.
Generally, you’ll be “in school” (though not necessarily on campus) from Monday-Friday. While some time is allotted to advisory and learning labs, you’ll do much of your work in project blocks, allowing a deeper dive into specific areas of inquiry with collaboration as a key element. During these project blocks, you may be meeting with a team of students, educators, and community leaders on campus, or out doing field work in community centers, government facilities, museums, places of business, or other locations in and around Philadelphia.
When you start and end your day is up to you. Morning person? Attend school from 8-3. Not so much? There’s a 9-4 option, too. We expect many students will choose to stay into the afternoon to do further work with peers and teachers or be part of student life programs including arts, athletics, and clubs. In addition, there will be “hands-on” and “minds-on” events two to three times per month which might include Saturday or late night/overnight collaborative work sessions.
Revolution School provides a comprehensive and informative transcript for each student. In addition to traditional credits in core subject areas such as English, math, and social studies, we also award “mastery credentials” to students for demonstrating exceptional skills and practices, such project management, social entrepreneurialism, even watershed management. Student portfolios substantiate learning and are organized according to the dispositions and habits needed for success in today’s interconnected and rapidly changing world.
Nope… but you won’t be left wondering.
Research shows that the act of grading has significant, negative effects on student motivation and self-concept. Within our school, we will focus on standards of achievement, productive feedback, and continual improvement. We assess student work along a continuum of progress, and students will always have tools to self-assess as well as get feedback on how to reach a higher level in their work.
At reporting periods, teachers and students collaborate to determine a student’s final progress against the standards. Our reporting routines provide families with two types of learning representation: Portfolio Progress and Transcript Progress. Students receive these reports four times a year.
Portfolios include writing pieces, artistic work, digital media and examples of collaboration, critical thinking and creative learning. They incorporate qualitative feedback from instructors and educators, as well as self-reflection from students. Transcripts detail student progress toward credit acquisition. These credits reflect academic learning, such as US Government, English 1, and Integrated Science.
Together these two reports reflect the skills, knowledge and behaviors that the student has acquired.
Late November: Portfolio Progress Reporting
Late January: Transcript Progress Reporting
Early April: Portfolio Progress Reporting
Mid-June: Transcript Progress Reporting
Students earn a B when they master standards. Application of academic standards in the world through projects provides students with opportunities for going beyond mastery, and students earn the grade of an A this way. Revolution School students will not receive low or failing grades as a way of “moving along” in the curriculum. Instead, students who have not yet met learning standards will receive a “not yet” (NY). Why? Because there is no educational value in receiving a final mark that informs the world that you have not met the standard. Instead, you’ll work with faculty to take concrete steps toward achieving mastery in that subject area. Teachers will ensure that you have multiple pathways and methods for overcoming challenges and showing your learning.
In some cases, you can also leave non-essential credits by the wayside. Student transcripts will only reflect what you actually know. As a result, no two students will have the exact same transcript. You can also use this process to accentuate your strengths, accumulating distinctions for what you have to offer at a high level—whether that’s project management and advanced calculus or public speaking and modern dance.
Our vision, at its best, puts young people on their own, purposeful paths. To do this, students must develop strong foundational knowledge and skills, as well as habits and dispositions that make them lifelong learners.
Absolutely. Our team has deep expertise with the transition to college. Our counseling team works side-by-side with students to help them consider next steps and think strategically about how (and why) to enter higher education.
The world of college admissions is also changing. In addition to traditional indicators of student progress such as grades and test scores, colleges are seeking authentic evidence of student accomplishment. To this end, Revolution School students each develop a portfolio of work with rich examples of their learning journey and the impact they have made within their communities
Tests have their place, but they are not and should not be the main focus of schools. Revolution teachers lead learners in deep discovery–they don’t “teach to a test.” Nonetheless, being future ready means students must be prepared to compete on standardized measures. Our standards-based approach includes benchmarks for the most prominent college admissions testing (SAT and ACT) to ensure that students have opportunities to practice in those areas before that important testing occurs. Junior year also includes a specific, skill-driven unit on test preparation strategy, supported by a partner with expertise in this area.
Our approach allows students to go deep into specific areas of study and, when appropriate, complete Advanced Placement tests in these areas. For instance, our particular focus on building quantitative literacy through project work involving data science and computational modelling will likely result in many of our students having a high comfort level with Statistics. This is part and parcel of our belief in applied mathematics for all students, and for those who choose to pursue the AP Statistics credential, they’ll have a foundation for success.
Glad you’re paying attention! Math study in the United States is a very contentious issue. Many education systems around the world teach math through an integrated approach and value mathematical thinking more than straight calculation skills. In the American education system, the prevalence of standardized and timed testing has shifted the focus toward computation and removed much of the context from math instruction. This is one reason some students struggle to understand math when it’s presented in a new context.
At Revolution School, we believe in teaching math as it applies to life: not math for math’s sake. This not only prepares students for standardized tests such as the SATs, it also teaches lifelong skills such as problem solving with proportional reasoning. We teach this in our project work and reinforce it in Math Lab, our competency-based practice sessions tailored to each student. Students may also leverage Math Lab to go on to advanced topics on the road to calculus.
Because you are a curious person who wants the next four years to be about experiencing and making an impact.
Because you want to be part of a community that will value your individual voice and help you take the next steps to becoming the best version of yourself you can be.
Because you want to learn in a great city and be a part of the growth, health, and prosperity of those who live in it.