Project Learn School is an independent cooperative school, serving about 60 students in grades K-8. Situated in the historic Philadelphia neighborhood of Mt. Airy, PLS maximizes the many resources available in a dynamic urban setting. At Project Learn School, teachers, students and parents work together to create a progressive and humanistic community that promotes mutual respect, involvement and curiosity.
Virtual Open House
Please reach out to our Community Coordinator at 215-438-3623 or firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP. The Zoom link will be sent out the day before the event.
December 18th-January 3rd
Winter Break - School Closed
January 4th at 8:30am
Dr. Martin Luther King, JR Holiday
Around The School
A Day of Adventure in Costa Rica
As part of our trip to Costa Rica, our 8th grade students spent a day white water rafting and zip lining through the rainforest canopy. It provided a wonderful balance with our days working at a local elementary school, and allowed the students to support one and other as we pushed our bodies in physical ways. Thanks to our wonderful guides and Costa Rica Explorations for leading us through this annual experience.
Kids Care 23
Our school spent a Tuesday morning creating four handmade books that celebrated "The Best Parts of Us". These books will be on display as part of Woodmere Museum's Kids Care 23 exhibit November 5 - December 18. Our project this year was inspired by photojournalist John W. Mosley's black and white photos, Woodmere's theme of Communities and Wendy Ewald's book "The Best Part of Me". Working in both their Language Arts and Art classes, students wrote short prose and took photographs celebrating a part of their body. Once in their mixed-age groupings, students shared their stories and photos, invented title's for their book and collaged covers using black and white fabrics and acrylic paint. Our books unite our individual stories, transforming them into communities of strength.
The Staff has been Out and About!
The staff has had several recent opportunities to learn together out in our community. A beautiful fall afternoon was spent with Friends of the Wissahickon volunteer Gerry Schweiger on a guided hike through Wissahickon woods. Gerry, who is also a PLS alumni parent, shared his vast knowledge of this region’s history, trail reconstruction and cultural importance. We all left with new knowledge and a renewed understanding of the importance of this natural landscape in our neighborhood. For anyone interested in taking one of FOW’s guided hikes, check out the listings on their website.
The morning of our October Staff Day was spent previewing the photographs of John W. Mosley, which are on display at Woodmere Art Museum through January 16, 2017. Mosley was a local Philadelphia photographer whose over 300,000 images document the African American community of Philadelphia during the 1930s-1960’s. Mosley’s exhibit is the inspiration for this year’s Kids Care exhibit which will be on display at Woodmere Nov. 5 - Dec.18. We look forward to being part of this year’s show!
Mixed-Up Group Skills - Wilderness Adventure
Every school year we begin with a special event called "Group Skills." Very much like the name suggests, we embark on three days with the entire school organized into mixed age groups. It is unique opportunity for the kids to meet and create relationships that carry throughout the entire school year. Every year a different theme is chosen, with this year's theme based on survival skills in the natural world. Jane, Joan and Dorian worked together to brainstorm and create an exciting group skills program designed to instill and promote comfort and confidence with the outdoors. Starting on Wednesday 9/14 and ending on 9/16 the mixed up groups experienced workshops led by the staff on shelter building, first aid 101, plant and tree identification, map and direction reading, and a cooking workshop about preparing nutritious snacks. On Friday each mixed up group put their skills to work reading maps that lead them Carpenter Woods, approximately one mile from Project Learn. Upon arrival we completed a team building shelter activity and had a picnic lunch as a whole school. Thanks to the many parents who joined us for this fun adventure.
New Family Picnic
Our 2016-2017 school year was inaugurated with our annual New Family Picnic. This casual gathering welcomed our new families as well as providing time for returning families to catch up with old friends. While the pre picnic sky threatened rain, the weather was cool and breezy, ending in a rainbow.
A fun time was had by all at this summer's alumni picnic. Alumni students, teachers, and parents from many generations over the past 46 years, along with current families and staff, gathered on a beautiful June afternoon in the yard to enjoy one another's company. Many thanks to Karen Flynn, Kate Garrity, LaCresha Allen, Fran Fox, and Melissa Klein for organizing the picnic, and to the local businesses that donated food and drinks! These businesses include: Malelani Cafe, Little Jimmie’s, Frosted Fox, A & N House of Produce, Acme Market of Mt. Airy, Fresh Grocer, ShopRite, and Philadelphia Soft Pretzels. We appreciate all the community support. Many thanks to everyone who donated to support Project Learn's academic programs.
Curricular Highlight: Spring Search
Lisa's Group finished off the school year with their annual series of "Spring Search" presentations. The Spring Search is a research project that each child in Lisa's Group completes each spring. This project is interdisciplinary by design, tying together research and writing skills, speaking to an audience, and creating an artistic visual. The children are encouraged to choose any topic of interest to them to research, providing an opportunity to learn about and practice taking notes effectively, writing information in their own words, and understanding and avoiding plagiarism. These notes provide the basis for a substantial written paper that is presented to the entire group near the end of the year alongside the artistic visual. The first time the children are introduced to this project, they can find it somewhat daunting, but after the presentations, the excitement for next year's projects is electrifying as kids begin to think and talk about what they will research next time. This year, topics included the historically significant, such as Jackie Robinson, Walt Disney, the history of basketball, WWI military officers, and famous American assassinations, as well as other areas of interest such as sea creatures, elephants, Zodiac signs, silent films, and Sagrada Familia.
8th Grade Graduation
Wednesday evening the whole Project Learn School community came together to celebrate the graduation of this year's eighth grade. During the ceremony, students, alumni, staff, parents, and extended families all took to the stage to share their memories, appreciations, and best wishes for the graduates. For more photos from the evening click here.
Learning About Ramadan
At PLS we embrace the diverse traditions of our community members and see this diversity as an opportunity for learning. For this reason, we welcome families to come in throughout the year and share about the various holidays and cultural events that are important in their lives. This week Suad, a PLS parent, joined us for a morning of learning about the upcoming Islamic month of Ramadan. She helped us prepare one of the recipes from a cookbook she created with a friend to teach people about Ramadan through food. Other activities for the morning included making lanterns and learning to write our names in Arabic with the help of Suad's daughter Iman, one of our junior high students. To see more photos of the morning click here.
Little Free Library
The culmination of this year's Group Skills theme on "Books and Libraries" was designing, building, and painting a Little Free Library that our students recently installed at our front entrance. Come have a look and take a book!
Other highlights of this themed study included:
Students making their own books and book covers
A visit by three-time Caldecott Medal winner, David Wiesner, who explained the process of authoring and illustrating children's books
Listening to one of our parents, a librarian, share her enthusiasm for books and her work in libraries
A community book swap
"Project Learn is like home to me"
shares Kennedy, a Project Learn alumni panelist at last week's dinner honoring our 8th graders and their families. "If you ever need help you always have a place to come back to." Kennedy and six other former Project Learn students returned to answer questions and to share their experiences transitioning to high school. Topics addressed included finding their way around their schools, navigating extra-curricular activities, homework, and time management. Overall, the panelists felt Project Learn had equipped them well for the challenges of high school and were encouraging to those who will soon be following in their footsteps. "Speak up for yourself. If you don't understand something, ask," advises Surya, Class of 2014.
Learning Through Service
This spring, Lisa's Group has been working with John Holback and the Friends of the Wissahickon organization on a service project in the nearby Wissahickon valley. The students have learned about the effects of invasive species and how to identify and remove two kinds in particular: honeysuckle plants and devil's walking sticks. The students also have helped with efforts to prevent unwanted paths by putting branches down to discourage their use. When asked about their experience the students said they really enjoyed working and playing around in the woods. "It was informative and a fun time," said Dallas Richardson, age 11.
Grandparents & Special Friends Day
Project Learn recently hosted Grandparents and Special Friends Day. Extended family and friends were invited as special guests to participate in classroom activities throughout the morning and then were treated to an all school presentation showcasing a variety of our students' talents in the afternoon. For photos of the performances click here.
On Thursday, students in the junior high presented their projects at the annual PLS Science Fair. The fair provides an opportunity for students to teach kids from other groups about scientific concepts that they have been studying. This year's projects involved demonstrations and experiments covering topics such as sound, theremins, handedness, musical preference, the placebo effect, helium, and animal training. For more photos from the event click here.
Birthday in the Woods
To celebrate Jane's birthday, Jane's Group spent a day in the woods hiking, finding frogs and caterpillars, sculpting with natural clay, walking in the creek, and learning about some native and invasive plant species. To see more photos from the day click here.
Vamos a Costa Rica
Project Learn's Annual 8th Grade Service-Learning trip to Costa Rica is finally underway! Pictured here in front of the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles in Cartago, the group is tired, yet very happy to have arrived. They are off to meet their homestay families today.
Thursday afternoon, Lisa's Group shared their egg drop projects with the younger groups. The work leading up to this highly-anticipated annual event provides an opportunity to introduce students to basic concepts in physics such as force, mass, acceleration, and terminal velocity while cultivating their creativity through design and construction. Be sure to check out this video of the event.
Jane's Group Comes to Forest School
Jane's Group took the time on Wednesday to join Dorian's Group for their weekly Forest School experience. The two groups spent the day together in Carpenter Woods hiking, creek-walking, and sculpting with clay found onsite. Project Learn's Forest School is a student-driven, exploration-based program that offers students the opportunity to learn and grow in the outdoors. Click here to visit the Forest School blog and see more photos from the day.
100th Day of School
Today marked the highly anticipated 100th day of school for this year. To celebrate, students in Dorian's Group took some time out of their regular morning routine to present projects that they have been working on, each incorporating the concept of 100. Students in Jane's Group also celebrated by creating patterned necklaces exactly 100 beads long and by solving literally hundreds of math problems. Click here for more photos from the day.
Families were in for a treat this morning (both literally and figuratively!) as Jane's Group presented the culmination of their in-depth study of Structures. Small group presentations of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower, Roman Colosseum and Castles were followed by leaning tower cakes and gingerbread Eiffel tower treats.
Theme Week: Cuba
For one whole week prior to the beginning of our new semester, the entire school embarks on our annual journey to learn about the food, family life, music, art, history and general wonders a particular country has to offer. This year our Theme Week travels took us to Cuba. Areas of exploration included salsa dancing, Afro-Cuban drumming (video), Cuban folktales and songs, popular Cuban games such as dominoes and cubilete, the history of Spanish colonization, revolution, and U.S.-Cuban relations, as well as Cuban cuisine cooked daily. Click here for photos.
To celebrate the holiday season, our students took the time on Thursday to design their very own gingerbread houses. Every child had the opportunity to spend time with another child from a different age group as they worked in parallel to create some spectacular and colorful houses. For more pictures of this fun-filled, candy-filled extravaganza check out the entire album here.
Junior High at Dark Waters
On Friday, November 6, the Junior High traveled to Camp Dark Waters in Medford, New Jersey for a day of outdoor activities. The students took part in a number of team-building exercises, low and high ropes course elements, archery, and tetherball. Fun was had by all, and it proved to be a great bonding experience for both the students and teachers.
Halloween at Project Learn
This year's Halloween festivities were quite spectacular. As is tradition, the 8th grade created a Haunted House for the other students to enjoy. Their theme this year involved a Haunted Hospital, and Liam's lady friend (a professional actress) and her crew came in to do a professional makeup job for the kids. Other festivities included carnival games created and run by the rest of the Junior High for the enjoyment of the whole community. Check out more photos from the day here.
Jane's Group Goes to Center City
Jane's Group has been studying international structures and architecture like the Sydney Opera House, Leaning Tower of Pisa, and Eiffel Tower in Social Studies and Science. This week, the group headed off to Center City for a day of observing and recording Philadelphia's urban architecture. Experiential education at its best! The group spent some time studying and drawing City Hall.
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