We use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a blueprint for understanding and engaging with the issues that impact our communities today and in the future. Our students grapple with complex, real-world problems and learn to be active changemakers in their own neighborhoods and the world beyond.
The Project-based Learning Program takes place in the FFS IDEA Lab, a two story hub specially designed for exploration, innovation, and collaboration.There, students and teachers grapple with complex, real-world situations - learning to identify problems, find solutions, and take action - as they become changemakers in their neighborhoods and in the world beyond. Whether doing research in the Mezzanine, de- signing and manufacturing prototypes using fabrication instruments, machinery, or technological tools, or connect- ing with people and organizations who are working on the same issues that students are exploring in class, FFS students become life-long learners who not only make a personal commitment to improving themselves, but also their communities and the world.
By incorporating the UN Sustainable Development Goals into our curriculum, we have set the stage for our students’ long-term success in understanding their responsibility towards people and our planet. This principle is fundamental to our mission and essential to living our Quaker values.
An important aspect of our PBL initiative is the formation of partnerships with people and organizations who are working on the same issues that students are exploring in class.Developing these relationships in and around the Philadelphia community enables students to recognize and build on the many connections between their learning in the classroom and authentic actions and progress being made in the world around them. Students begin to understand how their decisions and actions can build a better future for life on Earth on a global scale.Our service learning leaders at FFS are interested in building long-term projects with organizations and we welcome your ideas for partnership.If you are connected to an organization who would be a fit for our service learning or project based learning programs, please let us know!
Students are taught how to collaborate with others and to communicate effectively by asking questions, thinking critically, and listening carefully. Our students leave Frankford Friends School well-equipped for high school and beyond — prepared to let their lives speak in the pursuit of lifelong learning, a commitment to social justice, and service to their communities.
Learning a second language from the earliest ages has countless benefits, including developing problem solving, creative thinking, and memory skills, as well as improved verbal and spatial abilities. The Spanish program at FFS provides repeated, authentic exposure to the language through reading, writing, and conversation. Rather than using a textbook to teach vocabulary and grammar in a vacuum, students acquire language skills in a low-stress environment where they feel at ease to take risks in their learning.This active immersion engages them in literacy and critical listening, so that they will be ready to write and speak in Spanish in the advanced high school courses they matriculate to. Students interact in varied ways with the language and are offered multiple opportunities for different types of output and production.
Our Pre-K through Fourth Grade classes learn Spanish two days per week using memory tools, stories, songs, and patterns to increase their vocabulary. They play games and engage in a variety of activities that will help increase their ability to have practical conversations and gain confidence in learning a new language. Our Spanish instruction connects with the themes and topics students are studying across the curriculum, such as math, telling time, learning about weather patterns, and friendship. Feeling comfortable is an important component in acquiring language and we make sure to encourage students to be bold, take risks, and learn from their mistakes in all of our Spanish classrooms. By the time students reach Middle School, they have a solid foundation of basic vocabulary and conversation and are ready to take on the more complex studies of the language.
In grades 5 through 8, students learn using a more formalized process, immersing themselves in language through intensive study five days per week and reading and discussing Spanish novels. Using a communicative language methodology, our students continually develop the four skills upon which language acquisition is based – writing, reading, listening, and speaking. Grammar skills are also built upon and enhanced through games, readings, and songs so that our graduates enter high school with a high level of proficiency in Spanish.
Classes practice their skills during school trips to Spanish restaurants, in virtual classes with native speakers, and by filming and recording themselves. Digital tools and resources broaden the span of student listening and speaking skills that can be practiced at home at the students’ own pace. The Middle School Spanish classroom library is stocked full of Spanish language novels, graphic novels, and other reading materials collected over the years.
Additionally, students learn about current events and the culture in Spanish speaking countries and engage in discussions aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals with their classmates in Spanish.
The Music and Performing Arts program at FFS provides opportunities for students to explore their inner strengths and emotion, find and develop their voices, and engage with music and theater in ways that create life-long musicians, music lovers, and performers. All students in every grade are exposed to a variety of genres in music, dance, and drama, learning foundational skills of each craft along with plenty of space to exercise their creativity and imaginations.
By balancing both individual and collective modes of expression, we build a stronger sense of creative confidence in our students, so that they can be well-rounded leaders and collaborators in every future endeavor.
The Lower School music and performing arts program is designed to inspire creativity and a life-long appreciation of music. Our students sing, improvise, read and write music, play rhythm instruments, and do dramatic play. There are numerous opportunities to perform throughout the year, including participating in the annual school musical theater production. Using a vast array of percussion instruments, xylophones and glockenspiels, keyboards, recorders, guitars and ukuleles, students in the Lower School are exposed to many kinds of instruments and have plenty of opportunities to practice and perform.
In grades 6-8, middle school students can elect to join and perform in a variety of music and theater activities specifically designed around their interests. Classes in our Explorations program allow interested students the opportunity to explore concepts such as improvisation, songwriting, musical and dramatic theater, ensembles, and choreography and dance, in a space where risk taking is encouraged and celebrated. All middle school students participate in weekly music classes where they continue to hone their musical repertoire and build on their appreciation of world music.
The process of making art is most important as young students work to develop the ability to prepare a project. Our youngest friends listen to read-aloud stories as a starting point to their projects and to understand core concepts. Older students experiment with a wide range of materials and techniques, from architectural and perspective drawings to shading and color, and use tailored investigations to focus on developing a creative process of their own. Students at all levels delve into the work of artists around the world, making human connections and learning about the similarities and differences between different cultures. Children develop a lifelong appreciation for and understanding of how art enriches the human experience.
As students advance, projects become more complex as they explore a variety of mediums and materials. Students tackle advanced observation techniques to create portraits, 3D sculptures, and fiber arts projects. Through the Middle School Explorations program, interested students can additionally opt to take a variety of specialized art classes such as ceramics, sewing, digital art, and more.
The Physical Education program exposes students to an array of skills and athletic opportunities, guiding them to find joy in pursuing an active lifestyle.Through a mixture of individual, partner, and team play, each unit emphasizes the underlying social-emotional and stress relieving benefits that movement can bring to our lives. Students gain a respect for the rules, a spirit of collaboration and sportsmanship, and a desire to play for the love of the game.
All class periods incorporate a psychomotor, locomotor, and game-play exercise to ensure that students are receiving a well-balanced mixture of instruction, movement, and guided play. Our youngest friends focus on individual skill-building to improve their manipulative, tracking, and balance before expanding to faster, partner-based ball passing activities in the Lower School grades. More advanced units, including dance, yoga, and team sport strategy rounds out the curriculum and prepares students for team sport and problem-solving units emphasized in our Middle School program.
The Middle School Explorations classes provide opportunities for students to hone in on their individual fitness goals and athletic interests. Students in the Personal Fitness exploration class set goals to develop advanced cardiovascular endurance, speed, and muscular strength. Students learn to develop their own individual training programs, set goals for themselves, discuss various muscle groups, and begin building a toolkit of techniques for a life-long desire for fitness. Other Explorations classes focus on developing skills for particular games and sports, such as volleyball, soccer, and running.
All classes receive Health instruction throughout the school year. In the Early Childhood and Primary years, the Health curriculum centers on personal hygiene and cleanliness, healthy food choices, managing difficult emotions, and building healthy habits for living. The upper elementary grades have an increased focus on managing stress, bullying, maintaining healthy relationships, puberty, self-care, and healthy relationships. Through proactive support and instruction, we’re building resilient individuals who are comfortable navigating and advocating healthily for themselves in high school.