WKCD Youth Research in Action Grant Competition

This new initiative from WKCD will award, on a competitive basis, grants of up to $2,000 to youth-designed and -led action research projects across the U.S. The competition is open to public high school students nationwide, along with youth in community-based organizations. Proposals are due November 26, 2014. LEARN MORE


For both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, WKCD produced—with the youth-led news bureau Y-Press—a unique feature called "Youth on the Trail." We created a special youth beat with articles, interviews, and surveys from Y-Press reporters, including profiles of politically active youth, analyses of issues meaningful to young voters, and stories filed from the floor of the Republican and Democratic conventions. With the 2014 midterm elections in the rearview mirror, we thought we'd share a small sample of recent news articles concerning the youth vote that caught our eye. As you will see, the "youth vote" continues to defy easy characterization.
What does teaching look like when it truly centers on the student's learning needs? What practices, structures, and tools do schools that embrace student-centered learning turn to every day? From our research, eight core elements come to the fore: strong relationships with students; personalization and choice in curricular and instructional tasks; appropriate challenge levels for each learner; supporting students' social and emotional growth; anytime, anywhere, and real-world learning; technology that is integral to teaching and learning; clear, timely assessment and support; and fostering autonomy and lifelong learning. Learn more.
Who better to counsel freshmen about getting and staying on track for college than upperclassmen who've "been there, done that." WKCD has created a 45-minute student-led workshop in which seniors lead ninth graders through focused discussions, show a video in which a group of Seattle, WA high school students talk about their diverse paths to college, answer questions, and record the thoughts and concerns of participants. There's nothing quite like a seasoned senior telling a feeling-his-oats freshman, "I kinda blew off my grades freshman year, not realizing how the GPA worked, and I've been making up for it eversince." Download PDF
For several years, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has sponsored the Deeper Learning Network (DLN), a set of school networks comprising over 500 schools in 41 states. In these schools students embrace academic mindsets and self-directed learning--establishing their own goals, adapting to new circumstances, accepting feedback, and persevering. Here we share links to videso and podcasts that explore daily practice by schools within the Deeper Learning Network, including a collection of videos from the Teaching Channel and Expeditionary Learning schools, along with podcasts from Big Picture Learning.



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Growing Up in San Francisco's Tenderloin District
For several months now, WKCD has been working with youth at the Tenderloin Boys & Girls Club in San Francisco to create a photo essay book about their "village," just blocks from the city's wealthy financial district. Known for its population of homeless and addicts and a history of ill-repute, the Tenderloin has also become a bustling home to immigrant families, drawn to its low rents. Since 2011, the Tenderloin Clubhouse has offered an award-winning photo voice program to its youth. In Our Village: San Francisco's Tenderloin Through the Eyes of Its Youth will present the images, voices, and perspectives from these young photo journalists, growing up in what most regard as San Francisco's most troubled neighborhood. It's a story you won't want to miss.
Last spring, WKCD invited teenagers nationwide to send us the best nonfiction essay they had written on a topic that they cared about deeply. “We’re looking for diverse voices on diverse topics: family, school, learning, relationships, race, culture, origins, religion, body image, social media, conflict, peace, change, our planet . . . . or whatever topic you choose,” the contest flyer said. We received over 200 submissions and picked 29 winning essays, from high school students nationwide. Click here to read more, see the list of winners, download a PDF of the resulting book or purchase a hard copy.
Student and Youth Voice: Asking, Listening, and Taking Action
When WKCD embraced student voice as part of our guiding principles in 2001, the idea that youth should be welcomed as crucial investors in improving their schools and communities had few advocates. The research on the power of student engagement was commensurately sparse. To us, however, it made gut sense to privilege student and youth voice and vision. So for thirteen years WKCD has supported youth as collaborators: in our books and other publications (e.g., our “Fires” series); in survey projects nationwide; in more than 75 grants to student research groups across the globe; and in the feature stories we produce for this website. Here is an inventory of all we've created with youth as partners.
In WKCD's recent documentation of American high schools that prize student-centered learning, we identified six core teaching practices. We also examined the complex roles teachers played in these schools. We were reminded, again and again, that schools do not rise or fall—and students do not thrive or fail—based on structures and practices alone. Institutions and students alike depend on the ability of teachers, in the course of any day, to take on a range of roles. In the case of student-centered learning environments, these roles include curriculum planner, classroom facilitator and coach, assessor, adviser, connector, and communicator.
It’s not surprising that adolescents respond well to writing assignments that invite them to speak from their own experience. For years, WKCD has provided a stage for teen writers and thinkers to make their voices heard on topics ranging from family and identity to school reform and inequality. Today’s heightened call for narrative writing by middle and high school students reinforces this social-emotional connection: when teenagers are given the chance to write on issues that matter to them, their words can shine. Here, we offer a half dozen writing prompts that we've used to engage adolescent learners as journalists, essayists, and documenters.
This short manual describes the process and questions behind WKCD’s best-selling book Fires in the Bathroom. The insights in Fires in the Bathroom reflect a fundamental feature of adolescence that is curiously ignored by most current school reform efforts: the need for teenagers to enter into meaningful partnerships with adults. Increasingly, research suggests that addressing this developmental need within the school setting has significant positive effects on students’ motivation, engagement, and academic achievement. If we seek those outcomes as an educational priority, improving communication between students and their teachers would be a good place to start.
Education Week Commentary: Integrating Social-Emotional Learning Into High School
In a recent Education Week commentary, Barbara Cervone and Kathleen Cushman ask: What would it take to weave social and emotional learning into the daily fabric of our nation's high schools? What distinct practices, programs, and structures help schools embed SEL into ongoing teaching and learning? How does this effort vary from school to school, in response to the conditions that make a school unique and shape its climate? Indepth examination of five diverse high schools that make SEL core provide answers to these and other questionsand suggest policy implications.
Students who are the first in their family to attend college talk about the challenges they face. Also, download and share these WKCD resources for first-gen students at firstinthefamily.org: a student glossary of college application terms; college terms for parents in English and Spanish; a multimedia report from students in Seattle and Chattanooga about the college prep help they are receiving in their high schools; a "college matters" guide for adults working with youth outside school; college planning checklists for students in grades 9 - 12; and a list of inspiring quotes and books for high school students who will be the first in their family to attend college.
Growth Mindset and Why It Matters
Few ideas about learning have made their way as quickly into the lexicon of educators as growth mindset. WKCD has assembled five short videos that provide a lively introduction to growth mindset and why it matters, for students as well as teachers. At the end of each video we offer suggestions for activities and assignments, for use by teachers (as part of a professional development workshop) and by students (as part of their classroom learning). We encourage you to browse through the presentation and pick those videos that work for your situation and audience—and to amend the suggested activities.



and the power of social-emotional learning



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other wkcd sites


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special collections

Student/Youth Voice

College Matters

Global Youth Voices

Great American Dreaming

Just Listen!

Mentors That Matter

Service Learning

Students as Allies in School

Student Research for Action

Voices from the Middle Grades

Youth in Policy: Civics2

Youth on the Trail 2012


popular wkcd
publications [pdf

A Guide to Creating Teen-
Adult Public Forums

Cultural Conversations through Creative Writing

Documenting Immigration Stories

First Ask, Then Listen: How Your
Students Can Help You Teach
Them Better

Making Writing Essential to
Teen Lives

Profiles of Politically Active Youth

Queer Youth Advice for Educators

SAT Bronx

The Schools We Need: Creating
Small High Schools That Work
for Us



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Fires in the Mind

Fires in the Bathroom

Fires in the Middle School Bathroom