Form Follows Function

Students from Truman High School wrote essays reflecting on the architectural impact of their new facility. Four of these essays can be read by clicking on the students’ names below.
Jose Flores
Casandra Johnson-Jackson
Priscilla Basher
Vicky Bracewell


What Kids Can Do

Based in Providence, Rhode Island, this non-profit organization captures the extraordinary work and voices of ordinary students from around the country. The organization is at the intersection of the education reform and youth development fields, documenting and analyzing the best work from both fields as examples of “powerful learning with public purpose.” Student Learning in Small Schools: An Online Portfolio captures student learning in four small schools—Minnesota New Country School, the Met, Urban Academy, and High Tech High—including an overview of each school, a day in the life, student and mentor interviews, student work samples, and school forms and reports.


Fires in the Bathroom: Advice to Teachers from High School Students

by Kathleen Cushman and the Students of What Kids Can Do
The New Press, April 2003
Forty students from three American cities, working with author Kathleen Cushman, provide advice to teachers on a variety of subjects including the creation of positive classroom environments, engaging and motivating students, and teaching academically challenging curriculum. A paperback version of the book is available online at and at Barnes and Noble Booksellers.
Fires (pdf)


First Ask, Then Listen: How Your Students Can Help You Teach Them Better,

What Kids Can Do, Sept. 2003
This short manual describes the Process and questions behind Fires in the Bathroom and offers prompts for teachers wanting to start a dialogue with their own students.
Fires manual (pdf)


Creating “good” schools: observation and discussion tool

This tool, produced by The Forum for Youth Investment, is designed to help students and adults assess both their own schools and schools they visit. It includes observation templates and discussion questions.
Observation and discussion tool (pdf)


MTV Think Over Your School

Students from the Academy of Urban Planning at the Bushwick Educational Complex partnered with MTV to makeover their school's cafeteria/commons area. In October 2005, MTV aired a primetime special on the makeover, Think Over Your School, which documented both the project and student perceptions on small schools. The entire show can be viewed online here.


Restoring hope where it’s all but gone

In fall 2005, Indianapolis Public Schools reopened all five of its comprehensive high schools as more than twenty small schools. The Harmony Education Center boldly devised a project to involve high school students in the school reform project. Read about the project and preview its research tools here.