Five years ago we started Intensives as a way to bring more courses to TYWLSA, and also as a way for you to really go deeply into a subject or area. Since we are a small school, we don’t get to have too much of a variety of elective courses. For high school, you will earn one credit that will go on your transcript. Each intensive will try to bring in experts in the
field of your intensive who will deepen your work. We also will go on field trips so you experience your intensive in the real world.
Every intensive is sure to practice skills that help for all of your subjects, so it’s not a “break “ from work- it’s just work that looks different. You will collaborate and work deeply for two weeks, culminating in a public expo at the end of your intensive. Intensives are exciting; they’re a chance to try something you may never have experienced or to go
deeper into something you love. We can’t wait to get started!
The Young Women’s Leadership School (TYWLS) of Astoria is a college-bound, all-girls public school which strives to customize individual learning paths for each of our students. We achieve this across all grades and subjects through a variety grounding philosophies, including the infusion of 21st century skills into our alternative grading system. Students are assessed on skills not “grades” across assignments, providing them multiple opportunities to work on the same skill in a variety of ways. We assess our students on ten 21st century skills, referred to as Outcomes, which are shared across subject area and grade level.
At TYWLS of Astoria, teachers act as coaches, empowering students to consistently metacognate. Through this work, we foster an encouraging and caring school environment that provides students with the skills and knowledge they need to be great leaders. When we began this work a few years ago we noticed a glaring issue: the confines of a traditional school structure. Despite our best efforts and creative scheduling, we often ask our students to “rehearse” 21st century skills in an unauthentic environment. Each period we ask them to dig in to a subject, but they are jarred from their work a mere forty-five to ninety minutes later. High school is one of the only places where we are asked to shift ourselves in this fashion. Imagine attending forty-five minute meetings about disparate topics, eight in a row. How could anyone deeply process, communicate and create in such an environment? We asked ourselves how we could rethink time and space in our school to provide students with a chance to dive into one particular project that spans many skills.
Our solution: Intensives. For two weeks, our “regular” courses stop, and we implement our Intensive courses. We dedicate ten full days, five hours a day, working with the same group of students on one project culminating in a public exposition. The courses focus on our 21st century outcomes and real world experiences, including visits from experts in the field. Intensives also focus on field trips to meet experts in their workplace, or to see the field of study in action. When a course is writing a business plan for their screenprinting store on Etsy, a business owner will come coach them in this regard. If they are designing a set for the school play, they will visit prop shops and learn the various jobs associated with that field. Intensives are a chance for students to dive deeply into something they already love, or are just learning about. They spend fifty hours - close to the amount of time of a regular year’s course - immersed in their work in this one area. Intensives range from fitness challenges and photography to set design and robotics. Intensives are now a part of the culture of our school. Because of Intensives, our students have been authentically challenged and exposed to potential careers. Concurrently, our teachers have transitioned to be more project-minded and student-centered, fostering authentic learning each day.