The Urban Assembly is a nonprofit organization that has created a network of 23 public secondary schools and serves over 9,000 students from under-resourced neighborhoods across New York City. The Urban Assembly is dedicated to empowering underserved students by providing them with the academic and life skills necessary for college and career success. When looking for innovative ways to prepare students for success after high school, The Urban Assembly began a partnership with EPIC to explicitly embed key cognitive strategies into the classroom.
Partnering to Improve Students’ Thinking Strategies
In 2007, EPIC and The Urban Assembly piloted performance tasks designed to develop and measure students’ abilities to use the thinking strategies in the Four Keys to College and Career Readiness—Problem Formulation, Research, Interpretation, Communication, and Precision & Accuracy. Through over 7 years of implementing these performance tasks, students and teachers have been able to develop a shared understanding and common language for the thinking strategies, which has helped embed them not just in the curriculum but into the very culture of this network of schools.
Particularly powerful have been the opportunities for teachers from different schools to regularly gather for the purpose of scoring the performance tasks. These sessions have led to pivotal conversations about the commonalities and differences of using thinking strategies across subject areas. Further, they have sparked ongoing discussions focused on ways to appropriately scaffold instruction while still challenging students.
Throughout 2015, EPIC and The Urban Assembly are working together to identify the successes and challenges of embedding thinking skills in classroom instruction in order to share lessons learned with the Epic School Partnerships network.