Frankford Friends School is known for the outstanding social, emotional, and academic program it offers to students from all over the City of Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. Anchored by our Project-based Learning (PBL) initiative and grounded in the study of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the FFS Distance Learning Program includes excellent instruction in reading, writing, Spanish, and mathematics, time for students to explore interests in the arts, and the study of science, social science, and history in an inquiry-based environment.
Our students and faculty begin the school day together by connecting with their community using the same Responsive Classroom approach they use while on campus. Following that, students engage in a variety of synchronous and asynchronous activities across all curricular content areas. Faculty and staff use programs such as Google Classroom to communicate and collaborate, Zoom to conduct group and one-to-one lessons, and Pear Deck for interactive study.
Classroom websites keep parents informed about what their children are studying. Students in grade 2-8 are provided with Chromebooks for in school and at home use. Our online library will ensure ample access to books at each student’s level while materials to support hands-on investigations and project-based learning initiatives are sent home to families.
The school has a published schedule for each class to follow, but teachers have the flexibility to work with students in whole class groups, small groups, or individually so that everyone can meet with success. An instructional coach, project-based learning coordinator, and IT professional help guide them in their efforts, resulting in an extraordinary level of engagement and instruction.
Frankford Friends School is poised to move immediately between on-campus learning and the FFS Distance Learning Program so students do not miss essential learning time.
The Pre-K has been using their passports to travel all over the world to learn about architecture and building.
They turned their attention to two important architects who were both inspired by nature: Frank Lloyd Wright and Zaha Hadid. Frank Lloyd Wright didn't just want his buildings to offer a great view of nature; he wanted his buildings to be part of it. Zaha Hadid noticed that nature was filled with curves and spirals, which she loved and brought to her work. In response, Pre-Kers created designs and buildings inspired by nature.
food & Farming
Kindergarten’s final PBL unit of the year, “Lettuce Eat for World Pizza!” covers food production, the importance of farmers, and how to make healthy food choices.
As a class, they went on a virtual tour of a local farm, studied food groups and how to balance food choices, and designed their own menu items and advertisements for a food truck. Before the year wrapped up, Kindergartners continued their unit in Writer’s Workshop, where they created a truly imaginative collection of farm stories. Their adventurous stories covered topics like an astronaut farmer on the moon with a biodome, animals running off to the city, and a brave sheep going on a trip around the world. Way to go, Kindergarten, for using creative writing to combat stir-craziness!
First grade launched a digital pop-up book store, exploring the question "How do we share our love for books with the community during quarantine?"
Students came up with a list of people, businesses, and experts that they could interview to help them determine how to run a small bookshare service during this time. Individually, they wrote their own stories and prepped them for publishing by creating illustrations and recording audio books of themselves reading it. Collectively, they created an online bookstore platform and filmed a commercial to showcase and distribute their hard work to the whole school community.
Our entomologists took an in-depth look at cockroaches, honey bees, dragonflies, and more!
They developed a clear definition of what exactly makes an insect an insect, conducted an insect scavenger hunt, learned about insect anatomy, and discussed the many reasons why insects are important to our planet. During the early stages of the project, students chose a specific insect to focus on, collected research about its life cycle, and made their own stop motion animations to present to the class.
Third graders activated a growth mindset and worked so hard to write their own fairy tale adaptations and learn to code their own video games.
They used the same steps that software engineers use from creating a game concept, sketching out game parts, making a prototype, to gathering feedback from peers, programming the game, and finally testing and polishing the final product to publish. Their work is on full display in the Enchanted Forest Prezi. Visitors can read each fairy tale adaptation and then play the video games using MIT’s Scratch program.
In their cross-curricular Spanish and PBL unit, fourth graders created a website for Spanish-speaking immigrants who are new to Philadelphia.
They researched immigrant services, decided what would be important for Spanish-speaking immigrants to know, and designed a website experience that would be welcoming and informative to newcomers. Their website content was planned and drafted in English and then translated to Spanish.
In PBL, the class collaboratively wrote and produced a “choose-your-own-path” digital theater adventure that imagines what it might be like to experience the four stages of immigration: life before immigration, the passage, the arrival, and life in the new country. Students conducted interviews with real-world immigrants and studied the history of immigration, while developing a greater empathy for the experience of immigrants along the way.
Migration & Survival
Fifth Grade ended their study of migration and survival by creating advocacy videos.
Focused on UN Sustainable Development Goal 11(Sustainable Cities and Communities) all of the fifth-grade videos provide suggested actions to take in order to create sustainable, healthy, equitable, and safe communities. These videos were created after much research and collaboration with the Quaker Lobbying Organization FCNL.
For the culmination of their year-long exploration of Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, ancient India, and ancient China, sixth graders successfully transitioned their Ancient Civilizations Museum to a digital platform.
Museumgoers can explore the extensive student research, view the student-made artifacts, and hear directly from the students via video. A virtual tour is also available of the Conservation Lab, which features more information about artifact preservation and restoration, and short video messages from the class' conservators.
In the last few weeks of the school year, the 7th grade class voted on their final resolutions as part of their end-of-the-year Model United Nations project.
After selecting countries of interest to represent, students conducted research to develop a background understanding of the geography, social systems, and transnational issues. They then wrote and filmed speeches about an issue in the country, and wrote U.N.-style resolutions with recommendations and actions to fix the issue. Throughout the process, the student-delegates learned a great deal from each other about the issues concerning different countries of the world, how to take action to mitigate those challenges, and how to enact the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
They compiled all of their work into a website with delegate and country profiles, video speeches, and details about each resolution.
During their final trimester at Frankford Friends School, eighth graders studied the very idea of change.
As a class, they explored how Philadelphia and its people were transformed by the Industrial Revolution and again by globalization. In individual essays, they reflected on the recent changes in their own lives and explored what history can teach them about change.
Students dive deep into topics such as immigration, sustainable food systems, water conservation, equity, entomology, and the rights of people and other living things. Along the way, they build skills in research, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. Students lead their own learning, collaborating with their peers, receiving guidance from teachers, and practicing personal accountability to help them progress from point A to point B.
Using Zoom and Google Classroom, teachers have the flexibility to work with students in whole class groups, small groups, or individually so that everyone can meet with success. An instructional coach and IT professional help guide them in their efforts, resulting in an extraordinary level of engagement and instruction.
In a typical IDEA Lab class, students might work on an active PBL project or learn a new skill with materials like tape, cardboard, Photoshop, power drills, and more. To keep up with this important work during Distance Learning, Teacher Rachel posts challenges for students that target different IDEA Lab skills. The activities sometimes require co-creation and collaboration (thank you, caregivers and siblings!), and challenge students to activate a growth mindset and build up creative confidence.
Designed to foster creativity, movement, and connection, our specialist teachers meet with students weekly to offer Art, Music, Spanish, and Physical Education. From collage, still life sketching and abstract designing, students in each division are able to expand their artistic knowledge and experiences through a variety of mediums. Music classes encompass a range of activities from singing, instrumentals, and various musical exercises, while Physical Education classes are creatively devised to get kids moving in fun and interactive ways together.
The resilience, creativity, and positivity of our community is unstoppable. Whether on or off campus, we make sure to celebrate school traditions virtually, including River Otter Field Day, All School Meeting for Worship and concerts and showcases. Older students often showcase their leadership abilities while helping to plan these special events.
The FFS faculty is outstanding, and maintains the highest standards of teaching and learning both while on campus and through the FFS Distance Learning Program. The high opinion of our program stems from our faculty's expertise in developmentally appropriate, inquiry based instruction, which allows them to create online schedules to meet the academic needs of our students, and of course, the strong partnership between home and school.
River Otter field Day
The end of the school year brings with it community activities with silliness, fun, and nostalgia, including one of our favorite school traditions, River Otter Field Day.
This year, our community went all out for the virtual event and the pictures show what a wonderful, wacky time we had.
dispatches from the otternet
We’ve had a number of dispatches from our very own mascot, Frankie the River Otter. He’s been busy lounging, biking, swimming, and catching up on his reading.
After seeing Frankie in a faculty music video, one group of students wrote a letter to Frankie. To their surprise, Frankie answered!
“We love you! We all miss you during Distance Learning. Please take care of school for us while we’re gone. Are you having a good time at home? What are you doing at home? Tell us!”
“I miss you and love you all and I wish that I could see you. My family is doing well. We are getting a lot of extra swimming in because now that people aren’t out so much, the water is a lot less polluted. So that is one good thing! I am doing a lot of reading and really getting into the Lyle, Lyle Crocodile series. Tonight I plan to watch some of the videos of your work during field day. It will be a nice way to start the weekend by seeing all of you.” —Frankie
Lower school magazines
3rd graders presented a video to Mrs. Cook, where they successfully argued that they should purchase new child-friendly magazines for the classroom collections.
They met in small groups to discuss and find consensus on what magazines to include. From the great variety of magazines, a lot of students expressed that they love reading about history. They’re now very excited for Cobblestone, a magazine dedicated to teaching students about history through fiction and non-fiction stories. Students can now look forward to reading Cobblestone and three other magazines both in and out of school via the magazine’s digital edition.