Partner Spotlight: District of Columbia Public Schools

For three years, One World Education (OWEd) has led one of the largest and most successful programs in DC Public Schools (DCPS), impacting approximately 4,300 students and 100 teachers annually. Evaluations led by a partnership between American University and the World Bank reported that approximately 70% of DCPS 10th and 12th grade students using the One World Program have statistically improved their research, writing, and presentation skills while also learning about different perspectives and solutions to social justice issues they find important.

Antwan Wilson, Chancellor of
DC Public Schools

Zoey Velasquez,
Dunbar HS

Malik Norman,
Phelps HS

Global Educator
Award Winners

Our partnership with DCPS has matured over the past three years, with administrator, teacher, and student feedback leading to programmatic improvements each year. Following is an in-depth look at how it all works.

"The One World Program gives me the opportunity to take time with each area [of argumentative writing] and allows students to draft and revise each step in the process of writing. I have seen students come away from using this program able to translate the lessons into their future [college and career] work." - Roosevelt HS teacher Christian Czaniecki

Beginning last July, our Director of Leaching & Learning, Steph Bunton, started meeting with the DCPS Secondary Literacy team to plan and prepare for a successful 2016-17 school year, during which we worked with 10th and 12th grade ELA teachers and students across the district. Partnering with an entire district brings advantages, such as district-wide professional development (PD), allowing for meaningful collaboration across the city. It also brings some challenges, such as coordinating with nearly 100 teachers in 19 different schools, all with varying structures, schedules, and initiatives.

Working closely with DCPS Central Office afforded the opportunity to meet with the teachers in person during their district-wide PD in preparation for the One World Cornerstone. One of the most enlightening opportunities for OWEd and the teachers implementing the program this year took place during a PD in October. Tenth-grade teachers who were experienced with the program from previous years shared their thoughts and ideas about how to adapt the program to meet the specific needs of their students. This open dialogue allows for the program to be tailored for each school and student.

Throughout program implementation, support for teachers and students continued with class visits, as well as troubleshooting over the phone and through email. One of the most invigorating parts of the One World Cornerstone is its flexibility. Not only did we work with teachers to rearrange the order of some lessons, adding scaffolds and advancements to meet the needs demonstrated by their students, but we also broke down the techniques to suit the teacher’s style and preferences. Some schools, for instance, have a particular structure for the opening activity for the class period that is different from that which is written in our Curriculum Guide, so we worked with these teachers to create exercises for students that were consistent with what the students experienced schoolwide. In other cases, students required additional support with certain skills, so we collaborated to develop further opportunities for practice. This way, students were able to apply themselves where they were and made progress based on their specific skills.

By the end of the unit, students had a well-developed argumentative essay based on sound research. Over and over again, we hear students share that initially they were overwhelmed with the idea of writing a research paper, but that the structure of this program made it simple to learn about an issue important to them and share their ideas about it, too. In fact, many teachers also note that teaching writing skills is a struggle, because so many students enter the classroom with little practice. By the end, there is relief that their students were able to break down their ideas in a way that helps others learn.

As we close out this school year, we’ve been talking with students and teachers about their respective experiences with our program so that we can refine our work for the coming year. Most requests are for more time and more support. It’s encouraging to hear that teachers and students want to dive deeper into the research and writing process. We’re excited to continue working with these teachers and their students next year!

“Thanks to One World I am no longer afraid of being myself on stage and being confident about a topic that is important to me.” - 2017 Senior Challenge winner

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