Belonging and Becoming: Our New Book with Harvard Education Press

"Barbara Cervone and Kathleen Cushman have wonderfully captured the essentials needed for high schools to focus on both academic growth and healthy social development. Their work will lead to educating all high school students to be able to respond to the challenges and opportunities they routinely face through intentional efforts on academic, social, and emotional learning." — Paul Goren, superintendent, Evanston/Skokie District 65, Illinois, and former senior vice president, CASEL

"In this engaging new book, Barbara Cervone and Kathleen Cushman capture five compelling cases, teaching us that thoughtful, purposeful integration of social and emotional learning combined with rigorous project-based learning results in high levels of academic achievement, strong attendance, low dropout rates, and a high percentage of students going to college." — Ellen Moir, founder and CEO, New Teacher Center

"When educators ask me for practical advice about how to enhance the social, emotional, and academic development of high school students, I will urge them to read, discuss, and implement powerful strategies from this book. Belonging and Becoming is a game-changer that can improve the educational experiences, learning, and development of millions of high school students." — Roger P. Weissberg, chief knowledge officer, Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

ORDER [paper, 248 Pages Pub. Date: September 2015 ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-851-1 Price: $31.00]

Growing up in San Francisco's Tenderloin

In San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, everyone has a story to tell. Long home to the city’s homeless and mentally ill, the Tenderloin also pulses with immigrants upended by turmoil in their native country. Here, among the single-occupancy hotels, a family of five can squeeze into two small rooms and make a fresh start. This is the poorest and most densely packed neighborhood in San Francisco. It also has the highest concentration of children under 18 anywhere in the city. In this new book from WKCD and Next Generation Press, youth from the neighborhood share their stories. All members in the Tenderloin Clubhouse at Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco (BGCSF), they provide a vivid portrait of growing up in a neighborhood many shun. Their photographs and words will open your eyes and hearts. Read more. Order a copy.


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What Middle-Schoolers Think About the Pope

Middle-schoolers and Pope Francis have a lot in common. They love animals. They're anti-mafia. And they have some pretty enlightened ideas about what it means to be compassionate. On the eve of Pope Francis's visit to New York City, WNYC (the city's public radio station) talked to a group of students at Saint Saviour Catholic Academy in Park Slope, Brooklyn, about the "People's Pope," and what big issues he should take on.

Radio Rookies Talk About Romance and Relationships

For years, WNYC has provided a platform for the award-winning Radio Rookies, a citywide program for NYC youth. In a new series, Radio Rookies turns up the volume on the challenges of teen love and relationships, both when they soar and when they crash. First Loves features four young people who are learning for the first time what it means to be in a healthy relationship. In What I Want, 15 young people show that when it comes to figuring out love, the devil is in the details. If you've never been in a serious relationship before, how do you know what you want? In Crushed Teens and Dating Abuse, Radio Rookies report on the impact of abuse on their lives and their families.

Being 12: The Year Everything Changes

Here's another Radio Rookies series you won't want to miss. Everyone knows that 12 can be a tough age. Kids shed layers, test new roles, and transform before our eyes as they try on new identities. Their brains and bodies hit overdrive. Romances bloom and fade. Friendships mean the world and loneliness hurts. And school gets harder. The stakes ramp up in so many ways. Radio Rookies' "Being 12" brings to life the experiences of an array of young New Yorkers.

Kids on Race: "People Think I'm Supposed to Talk Ghetto, Whatever That Is"

As part of "Being 12," Radio Rookies took up the special issue of race. After a year that saw high-profile police shootings plus the deadly attack on a black church in South Carolina, middle school teachers told WNYC their classrooms were abuzz with personal and sometimes difficult conversations. And they didn't always feel prepared to handle what came up. In this video, we hear directly from the students. They answer the question "who am I?" Their answers will surprise you.

Everybody's Different

For more than 30 years, New York City's Youth Communication has trainied a diverse teen writing staff to provide content with special relevance and appeal to marginalized youth. It has also evolved to reach audiences through video, the web, books, and curricula. This short film about Johileny Meran, a disabled and homeless Brooklyn high school honor student, was recently voted a web favorite and aired on public television (Channel Thirteen). Click here to read the story Johileny wrote for YCteen.

Young Activists Getting Results—in Chicago, Across the Nation

For more than five years, a determined group of young people has demanded that University of Chicago Medicine open a trauma center on the South Side. From Ferguson, Missouri, where the "Black Lives Matters" movement took off, to the South Side of Chicago, where Fearless Leading by the Youth launched the trauma center campaign, young people are leading the call for justice. And increasingly across the country, they are strategically amplifying their message to get results.

California’s Upward-Mobility Machine

The University of California is struggling with budget woes that have deeply affected campus life. Yet the system’s nine colleges still lead the nation in providing top-flight college education to the masses, according to the New York Times. This excellent article explores in depth what these U. of C. colleges are doing to insure that their students thrive, regardless of their backgroundand today's less than bright data around diversity—and higher education and what needs to be done. The article includes several videos of first generation college students talking about their experiences.

Homework: A New User's Guide

This NPR story maps out six, research-based polestars that should help guide you to some reasonable conclusions about homework. How much homework do U.S. students get? How much do students in other countries get? How much homework is too much? Does homework improve students' performance? What kinds of homework is most effective. (See below for a WKCD feature story on homework.)



Making Homework Meaningful

Ideally, homework should be “deliberate practice,” writes WKCD author Kathleen Cushman, targeting individual areas of need and pushing each student to a new place just within reach. "But students tell me it rarely works that way," Cushman says. Cognitive researchers have specific criteria for the kind of practice that steadily makes people better at what they do. "It would make sense if homework matched those criteria, but my research for Fires in the Mind shows that it usually doesn’t," she says. The kids make their case in Chapter 8 of Fires in the Mind: What Kids Can Tell Us about Motivation and Mastery, which Cushman also adapted as "Show Us What Homework's For" in an article in Educational Leadership magazine.

Transforming East Chicago: A Youth Survey by Greenhouse Fellowship

In East Chicago, Indiana and hundreds of declining cities like it, leaders from businesses, churches, and schools struggle to understand and fix the problems afflicting their neighborhoods. Rarely do they engage the one group with the most hope and the greatest ability to adapt: young people. The Greenhouse Fellowship, started by recent East Chicago high school graduates, decided to do just that. Last spring they surveyed over 1,500 youth across the city about the opportunities they needed most. A $2,000 WKCD Youth Research for Action grant supported their work. Greenhouse Fellows' final report and recommendations for city leaders (PDF) | Survey questions (PDF)

Stress Among Dual Enrollment Students: Thriving or Surviving?

For dual enrollment students, managing school pressures, career decisions, family responsibilities, and after school and summer jobs, while simultaneously enrolled in college, can be—well—intense. This past year, a group of dual enrollment students at Florida State College at Jacksonville, with support from WKCD's Youth Action Research program, tackled the stress factor head on. Drawing on surveys and interviews with their dual enrollment peers, they explored the impacts of stress and strategies for managing it. (The survey questions the team developed about academic stress could easily be adapted to be used in a variety of settings.) Prezi presentation | Video on dual enrollment and stress | Survey questions (PDF)

Students Working Together for Transportation Equity

Can equitable transportation make safer, healthier and more productive communities? With a WKCD Youth Action Research grant, a math class, an entrepreneurial club, and the City of Brooklyn Park in Minnesota joined forces this past spring to look at the impact of limited public transportation options in a culturally diverse and immigrant-rich suburb of Minneapolis. The youth identified transportation needs through research, interviews, surveys, community visits, and observation. They turned their findings into recommendations for route additions and changes. Impact report (PDF) | Poster (PDF)

Core Elements of Teaching Practice in Student-Centered Schools

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.

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.

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.




and the power of social-emotional learning



Helping your child succeed

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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