Step Back & Move Forward

Dear One World Education Friends,

International Literacy Day, which was September 8th, marks the sixth anniversary of One World Education. I was recently reminded of where it all started when I had lunch with two former students who were on summer break from college. It was in their 8th grade classroom where our program originated in 2006. Stemming partly from frustration and partly from school demands for improved writing outcomes, I asked those students to write about anything they cared about, as long as they followed our class guidelines.

Little did we know that this activity would evolve into One World Education. I still remember how interested the students were in revising writing about their own ideas and perspectives. Finally, they had a writing assignment that was about them! They read each others’ writing with real interest. They turned to each other to ask questions. They were learning from each other. For the first time, these students saw that their writing could serve as more than a grade, but also as a reading source for other students.

We’ve come a long way since starting in room 205 at the SEED Charter School. OWEd is now a citywide organization providing students with the opportunities to write about cultural and global issues, while building the skills they need for college and career-level writing. During these years we’ve learned a lot about the interests and needs of students and teachers. Students want writing activities that reflect their ideas and perspectives. Teachers need curriculum that aligns to standards and engages students. OWEd evolved by responding to these needs.

Just as our programs ensure that teachers have strong lesson plans to guide their students, OWEd spent the last school year preparing its own strategic plan. The results have spearheaded program improvements, expansion, and more efficient partner collaboration. I’ll use this first blog post to share some of our plan.

First, schools had asked OWEd about offering more in-school, professional development (PD). We realized that a higher quality of writing was coming from students whose teachers had participated in our trainings. In response, OWEd developed a Teacher Trainer Academy where our educator team trains a teacher from each partner school. These teachers then lead OWEd’s PD in their own schools – creating leadership opportunities, fostering collaboration, and ensuring program expertise exists in each partner school.

Our second change was OWEd’s transition from working with individual schools to working with school districts and Charter school networks. For the 2013-2014 school year, OWEd partnered with DC Public Schools (DCPS) as its first, citywide, high school writing program. Every 9th and 10th grade DCPS student – and teacher – has the opportunity to participate in the One World Writing Program this year.

The third accomplishment was to deepen our commitment to evaluation. With the DCPS partnership in place, OWEd needed a strong evaluation partner to assess our work with 4,600 DCPS high school students and 140 teachers. This summer, OWEd contracted the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at George Washington University to lead this citywide evaluation.

The importance of having a strong, long-term plan is often overlooked in the face of short-term gains. But we understand the need – just as our programs are creating successful teaching and learning experiences in classrooms, we were successful in creating our own long-term plan over the past year. I want to thank those of you who have been a part of this accomplishment. It is my hope that our new, monthly blog will share the exciting results from this work.

Thank you for your commitment to education.

Eric G.

 

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Comments

I am home schooling and looking for resources.

Hi Anne, We can definitely help. Can you contact Leith or I to discuss. Have a great weekend. Eric

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