Paulo Freire Freedom School — Downtown Campus
Paulo Freire Freedom School – Downtown opened in 2014 with 6th and 7th grades at City High School in Downtown Tucson (8th grade will be added in 2015). PFFS-Downtown opened as a full-immersion STEM middle school and will be the vanguard of a transformation of both PFFS-University and CITY High School and the development of the CITY 6-12 STEM Education Complex.
STEM education means many things to many people. We are using the Arizona STEM Network’s STEM Immersion Matrix to help guide our implementation of STEM at PFFS-Downtown. Students will be taught through integrated/interdisciplinary curriculum that incorporates science, technology, engineering and math in real world project based units. Teachers will act as facilitators who support student learning through guided inquiry. STEM education at PFFS-Downtown will be about producing students who can tackle the real world challenges faced by the larger community. Our students will be practiced problem solvers who think creatively and analytically; who propose solutions both in the classroom and the community. By embedding our STEM curriculum in real world societal challenges we will mold engaged citizens who are committed to the collective good.
We are excited to be piloting a new program at the Downtown location that we will be calling ‘Flow Lab’ (inspired by the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on engagement), in which students follow daily ‘playlists’ of personalized and blended learning experiences. These playlists, co-designed by the student and his/her advisor with input from parents, will include the exploration of student passions, opportunities for remediation, additional support, and acceleration, as well as, participation in elective classes. For too long schools have dictated that students advance lock step through their learning, despite obvious and substantial variations in interest and readiness. We want to push the thinking about how schools can be adapted to meet the specific individualized needs of our students.