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U(n)schooling in Philly: Building Blocks for Future Schools

Listen and learn

Listen and learn : Lecture

Sunday, June 23, 8:30–9:30 am
Location: 121C

Jay Cohen   Neil Geyette  
Philadelphia’s The U School is deeply engaged in the work of pioneering new tools that foster student agency among historically underserved youth. This session exposes participants to model design processes and grants access to the open-source Google-based tools designed to support the paradigm shift for our community.

Audience: Chief technology officers/superintendents/school board members, Principals/head teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Skill level: Intermediate
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Google Account
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Online tools, apps and resources
Grade level: 6-12
ISTE Standards: For Administrators:
Systemic Improvement
  • Establish and maintain a robust infrastructure for technology including integrated, interoperable technology systems to support management, operations, teaching and learning.
Visionary Leadership
  • Inspire and facilitate among all stakeholders a shared vision of purposeful change that maximizes use of digital age resources to meet and exceed learning goals, support effective instructional practice, and maximize performance of district and school leaders.
For Students:
Empowered Learner
  • Students articulate and set personal learning goals, develop strategies leveraging technology to achieve them and reflect on the learning process itself to improve learning outcomes.
Related exhibitors: Google, Inc.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Understand how we position urban adolescents as active agents developing the skills, and dispositions essential to postsecondary success.
Learn a new strategy for school-wide or grade-level flexible student grouping that enables asynchronous learning in a competency-based model
Experience a set of open source tools and structures to help school communities track their attendance, productivity, performance and culture data


Total Session Time: 60 minutes

Content and activities:
The key building blocks of The U School and the open source digital tools and systems evolved to meet the needs of our learning community.

The session is planned as a lecture.

Welcome (2 mins)
Purpose and Objectives (3 mins)
Origin of The U School (10 mins)
Key Building Blocks (15 mins)
Evolution of our Tool(s) (15 mins)
Questions (5 mins)
Time to Share and Play (10 mins)

Supporting research

Schools with a strong focus on youth development, driven by relevant Competency-based learning are popping up all over the country. The U School was initiated through a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The foundation of the Opportunity by Design Challenge was designing schools more appropriately preparing youth for college and career.

Designing Innovative High Schools (The U School included in study)

Grading and Reporting (Great Schools Partnership)-
Assessment Practices (Great Schools Partnership)-

Promising Practices -

More [+]


Jay Cohen, xSoTec, LLC
Neil Geyette, The U School

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