Developing Critical Skills for College and Career Readiness
By Janet Price
ISA Senior Director of Programs
Bronx Envision Academy
Bronx Envision Academy is making great strides to prepare its students for success, as evidenced by its recently implemented 11th Grade Thesis Presentation Program. The program gives students an opportunity to explore and practice critical skills useful beyond the classroom – skills such as primary and secondary research, higher order thinking and investigation, intensive writing, and peer editing and review.
Students in the 9th and 10th grade demonstrate their learning through a portfolio process where work is presented and reviewed to their peers in a gallery-style celebration of their work. Students in the 11th grade take this process to the next level by using an advisory class setting to develop and defend an interdisciplinary thesis. Students have the freedom to pitch any topic or theme from American history and develop an authentic historical research question based on that topic or theme. By using a variety of primary and secondary sources gathered in classes and through independent research, students develop a thesis statement that seeks to answer their research question. The culmination of the process includes a final paper and presentation, where students have to defend their thesis by answering questions presented by peers, teachers and community members. This year’s topics ranged from the impact of September 11th on the immigrant community to the correlation between dance and social movements.
Teachers emphasize the importance of finding the answers to challenging questions that are presented both in and out of the classroom and how to present oneself and one’s work in a thoughtful manner – critical skills for college and career readiness.