In-School Program

“Trash Life” A PIE Student Film Release: March 28th at Cinema Detroit

Out of sight, out of mind, but not gone forever-- once it leaves our fingertips, how does trash resurface in our lives? Join us at Cinema Detroit on Wednesday March 28th at 5:30pm for the release of "Trash Life," a film by The James and Grace Lee Boggs School students and PIE about where our trash goes.

The screening will include a Q & A with the students and light refreshments. See you there!

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Detroit Future Schools is hiring

DFS_hiring2 Detroit Future Schools is seeking experienced, visionary applicants for two roles for the 2014-2015 school year: Program Coordinator and Artist-in-residence of Detroit Future Schools’ In-school Program.

Detroit Future Schools is a digital media arts-integration program committed to humanizing schooling. We partner artists-in-residence with K-12 classrooms in the Metro Detroit area for a full school year, during which time they work collaboratively with teachers to make core content engaging and relevant. They lead students through semester-long media projects that investigate essential questions about their communities and the world. We provide teacher professional development throughout the year to support both the artists-in-residence and the classroom teachers to nurture a humanizing classroom culture.

Detroit Future Schools is a sponsored project of Allied Media Projects.

Read more about the two open positions below. To apply, please send the following to

  • cover letter
  • resume
  • Three work samples (curricula, articles or essays, grant applications or reports, links to videos of workshops you have led, etc.). Work samples that demonstrate your written communication skills are highly encouraged.
  • names, emails, and telephone numbers of three professional references

Applications will be accepted until May 21, 2014. Interviews will take place 
in late May or early June. Our ideal candidate will start on July 7, 2014.

NOTE: These positions are posted pending funding approval. We expect to hear a response to a request for funding of these positions by mid-June.

Allied Media Projects is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, sexual orientation, religion, HIV serostatus, disability, height, weight, veteran status or marital status.


Title: DFS Program Coordinator

Reports to: Allied Media Projects Executive Director

Based at: Allied Media Projects: 4126 Third St. Detroit, MI 48201

Primary Objective: To lead the continued implementation and development of the Detroit Future Schools program.


    • In partnership with the DFS Lead Artist, advance the long-term vision and strategy of Detroit Future Schools
    • In partnership with the DFS Lead Artist, provide professional development and instructional coaching to DFS teachers and artists to ensure the integration of research-based instructional practices (also known as DFS Root Practices).
    • Maintain an in-depth knowledge of all aspects of DFS programming in order to hold a “balcony” view of trends and patterns across classrooms and course-correct as needed.
    • Organize, design, and facilitate gatherings of staff and participants of the DFS in-school program (approximately five events per year)
    • Oversee all program evaluations, including:
  • Monthly Self-Assessments
  • Quantitative Surveys
  • Student interviews
    • Manage DFS Public Relations, with support from Allied Media Projects staff, including:
  • Publicizing events and opportunities
  • Sharring curricula
  • Conference presentations
  • Blog posts that may include summarizing learnings from the program
  • School presentations
  • Email and social media blasting
    • Manage DFS fundraising efforts, with support from Allied Media Projects staff, including:
  • Grant prospecting
  • Grant writing and reporting
  • Interacting with current and prospective funders
  • Securing contracts with schools
  • Developing a base of recurring donors through the AMP sustainers program
  • Provide general administrative and organizational support as needed


  • The ideal candidate will have:
  • Demonstrated commitment to social justice values.
  • Excellent leadership, strategic thinking and planning skills.
  • High-level proficiency with Google applications (Drive, Calendar, etc.)
  • A breadth of knowledge, including current trends and emerging practices of digital media education, assistive technologies and arts-infused education.
  • A grounding in alternative/community-based educational theories, such as popular education, critical-pedagogy, project-based learning and multiple intelligences.
  • Five years of curriculum-development experience within a community organization or educational institution.
  • Preferred three years experience in program development, implementation and evaluation.
  • Familiarity with state curriculum standards and benchmarks and experience adapting curricula to meet those standards in creative ways.
  • Experience working collaboratively with a diverse staff.
  • Excellent interpersonal, written and communication skills; strong public speaking skills.
  • Excellent self-management and time-management skills
  • Ability/desire to work flexible hours, including occasional evenings and weekends, and willingness to travel occasionally.


  • Part-time and Full-time options available
  • Competitive salary and benefits package


Title: DFS Teaching Artist

Reports to: DFS Lead Artist

Based at: Allied Media Projects: 4126 Third St. Detroit, MI 48201

Primary Objective: To develop and implement DFS media arts-integrated curriculum in K-12 classrooms, in collaboration with classroom teachers and the DFS teaching artist team.


    • Build a strong collaborative partnership with assigned DFS classroom teacher(s)
    • Develop in-depth knowledge of research-based instructional practices (also known as DFS Root Practices) and support partnering teacher(s) to integrate these practices into their classroom culture.
    • Facilitate DFS media-making modules, through which students will:
  • develop skills in digital media production
  • experience all four phases of the media-making process: pre-production, production, post-production, and distribution.
  • investigate essential questions relevant to their lives and their communities
  • increase their mastery of core content
  • develop critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills
    • Complete two DFS media modules with each classroom over the course of the school year.
    • Adhere to DFS documentation and evaluation procedures, which include:
  • Weekly lesson plans
  • Monthly self-assessments
  • Program pre, mid-point, and post evaluations
    • Participate in regular DFS meetings, which include:
  • Bi-weekly staff meetings
  • Quarterly Tune-ups (usually on Sundays)


The ideal candidate will have:

  • Demonstrated commitment to social justice values.
  • Demonstrated commitment to authentic youth leadership
  • Mastery of at least one digital media art form (video production, audio production, graphic design, or web design) and at least one year experience teaching that art form.
  • Two or more years experience working as an educator in K-12 schools or youth leader/facilitator in a community organization.
  • Familiarity with theories and practices of popular education
  • Familiarity with arts-infused education practices.
  • High-level proficiency with Google applications (Drive, Calendar, etc.)
  • Thorough and creative lesson-planning, paired with the ability to improvise in the classroom
  • Attentiveness to detail demonstrated in thorough execution of major media projects
  • Experience working collaboratively with a diverse staff.
  • Excellent interpersonal, written, and communication skills; strong public speaking skills.
  • Excellent self-management and time-management skills
  • Ability/desire to work flexible hours, including occasional evenings and weekends, and willingness to travel occasionally.

Compensation: $20 per hour, for 10 hours per work week, including roughly:

  • 3 instructional hours
  • 3 prep hours
  • 4 flex hours, which may cover: lesson reflection/debrief with partnering , DFS staff meetings, support for various DFS events
  • Option to join group health/dental benefits plan.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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3 New features of Detroit Future Schools for the 2013-2014 School Year

Detroit Future Schools is going into its third year of programming and we could not be more excited! We have learned so much from the past two years of integrating digital media arts into Detroit schools and providing year-long teacher professional development in more than 24 schools across the city. Two things have become clear to us:

1) It is possible to transform classrooms into learning communities that advance our full human potential. 2) The inputs required to make this transformation happen are relatively simple.

DFS has honed a set of instructional practices that when applied consistently have proven to create the conditions in which humanizing education can thrive. We measure humanizing education by the presence or absence of 11 Essential Human Skills within a classroom, such as critical consciousnessmetacognition, and curiosity. We look for these skills in teachers as well as students.

As classrooms are the cells in the body of our school system, we believe that transformation in education at this level has the potential to transform entire schools, and ultimately, the education system as a whole.

As we enter the 2013-2014 school year, we have re-structured our program to have greater impact in a smaller number of schools. We are excited to announce the following new features of Detroit Future Schools:


james-and-grace-lee-boggs-schoolIn two years, DFS has been welcomed into 24 schools across the Metro-Detroit area. This year, we made the decision to only work in four schools: The James and Grace Lee Boggs School, Hamtramck High School, Tri-County Educational Center, and Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies.

This decision was made in part because the two-year, non-renewable federal grant under which we launched Detroit Future Schools ended in 2012. While we were successful in securing contracts to continue DFS in six schools, we decided to work only in the four schools where we see potential for long-term partnership. Administrators at all four of these schools deeply understand and appreciate the vision of DFS and will work with us to generate the funds necessary to sustain the program in their schools moving forward.

We look forward to being able to have a more concentrated impact in a smaller number of schools. At the same time, we plan to create more local and national spaces through which to share the lessons emerging from the in-school program. Ultimately, we believe this scaling-down-to-go-deep approach will strengthen the root system of DFS for the long-term.


We are committed to an "open source" approach to humanizing education that will allow the maximum number of people to benefit from the practices and ideas that emerge from our anchor schools. Towards this goal, Detroit Future Schools produced a zine that any teacher, youth or artist in schools can use to integrate the spirit and practices of DFS in their own learning space. The zine includes theDFS Vision Statement and theoretical framework, instructional videos, evaluation templates, and lesson plans.

To accompany this zine we created a toolkit of classroom signage that is essential to the implementation of DFS practices. This toolkit includes: an 11 Essential Skills Poster, a Media Project Workflow Poster, Detailed DFS Timeline for the Year. 11 Essential Skills cards, Debate Signs and Rules, Bloom’s Taxonomy, and a Day One DFS Handout.



For the 2013-2014 school year we will provide more opportunities for educators outside of our Anchor Schools to receive professional development training in DFS core practices.

In February of 2014, DFS will invite educators from across Detroit and the country to participate in the "RIDA Institute" – an intensive three day crash-course in reimagining what is possible within schools. The question “what is the purpose of education?” will frame the institute, as participants explore the educational theories of Paolo Friere, Duncan Andrade, James and Grace Lee Boggs and others.

Moving from theory to practice, RIDA Institute participants will think critically about the specific social and historical contexts in which they work in order to create their own purpose of education statement. From there, they will use the DFS RIDA framework to create visions for their classrooms and the kind of students they will produce. We will share instructional practices for integrating the 11 Essential Skills into classroom content, as well as daily practices for making lesson-planning more efficient and effective.

Participants will have the opportunity to design and refine lesson plans over the course of 3 days, returning to their purpose of education statement to evaluate what instructional practices best allow them to fulfill that purpose. The RIDA Institute will take place in February 2014.

Because space is limited, participants in the institute will be selected through an application process. Enrollment fees will be determined on a sliding scale for individuals and institutions. Contact for more information.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Keep us going and growing: Sign-up to be an AMP sustainer!


DFS Classroom Visit: "Thinking about your thinking!"

metacognition_fishbowl"Thinking about your thinking!" This is what the 5th graders in Allie Gross’s Detroit Future Schools classroom at Plymouth Educational Center yell back in unison, in response to the question, "What does metacognition mean?"

This is not because the definition has been drilled into them through rote memorization.  Rather, it is because Allie has built a strong culture of "thinking about your thinking" in her classroom over the course of the school year, with support from DFS artist-in-residence Conja Wright.

AMP’s Detroit Future Schools program is a year-long digital media artist-in-residence and teacher professional development program. Its goal is to prepare Detroit area youth to envision and actualize a more just, creative, and collaborative world.  We look for 11 Essential Traits of Habit, Character and Mind in students, teachers and artists to measure our progress towards this goal. Metacognition is one of those traits.

After observing Allie’s classroom for two hours, I saw how integral this trait is to all of the other Essential Traits.  When students take ownership over their own knowledge, they lay the foundation for self-determination; they are able to reflect on not only their actions, but the thought processes that guide those actions, ultimately giving them more power to determine for themselves who they will be in the world.

Allie is clear about who she expects her students to be in the world: people who will change the world by first changing themselves. The students lead each other in a call and response chant every day:

Be the what? Be the change! Change the what? Change ourselves! Change the what? Change the class! Change the what? Change the world!

As the DFS artist-in-residence, Conja Wright reinforces the classroom culture of metacognition and self-transformation through the integration of media arts.  Since the beginning of the school year, Conja, a librarian and professional storyteller, has immersed students in the idea that they can be authors, not simply characters within the story of their lives and their worlds.

During the first quarter of the year, Conja read and analyzed creation myths from a variety of cultures with the students.  Throughout the rest of the year, she is helping students build the skills they need to tell their own stories about who they are, what their relationship to their environments is, and what it means to be a "changemaker."

The role storytelling plays in changing the world is no simple matter.  It triggers questions like, who has the power to tell stories? How do stories gain power? What is the responsibility of storytellers? Neither Allie nor Conja are interested in pretending that it is, just because their students happen to be 5th graders. They embrace the complexity of these questions and use them to build the metacognition their students need.

On the day that I visited the class they were grappling with the question, "to shoot a photo or to help: what’s the most effective way to change the world?"  The week before, they had analyzed a photo of a woman who had been shot by the police in Haiti, after stealing some chairs.  In the photograph she’s laying on the ground, surrounded by a ring of photographers.

The question of "to shoot a photo or to help" had germinated even earlier in the year, during a "changemakers event," in which the class spent the day cleaning up a park in their neighborhood.  That day, Conja worked with a team of students to photograph the clean-up.  This documentation effort had raised a question around the value of doing changemaking work versus telling the story of changemaking.

The students drew upon these past experiences, as they launched into a "Fishbowl" conversation on the topis.  A "Fishbowl" is a standard DFS practice for structuring an equitable conversation.  The conversation begins with a small group of chairs in the middle, with the rest of the class observing.  After the conversation has gotten going, any student on the outside can "tap" themselves into one of the chairs by tapping one of the other students out.

Allie began by reviewing the rules of the Fishbowl with the students. These include things like, "use evidence," "engage in conversation, don’t just try to convince people of your opinion," "seek a common vocabulary."  The Fishbowl starts, and Allie transcribes the whole thing, with as much accuracy as possible. She doesn’t participate in the conversation at all–it’s entirely the responsibility of the students to self-facilitate, another core DFS practice.

Below are excerpts from their conversation:

"I’m going to start by defining effective.  ‘Effective’ means when we clean up the park.  It’s effective because we’re doing something with the community.  But it’s more effective to shoot a picture than to help, because then a lot of people can see it."

"I disagree with Kamaree and Danielle, because if you help, then the person you help can spread the word and so can you, and then people can know more about the problem through the person that helps."

"I want to ask Daniel a question—why wouldn’t you do both?"

"If you took a picture you wouldn't have enough time to help…"

"I disagree with Daniel, if you take a picture and put it on the Internet millions of people can see it."

"A lot of people can’t afford to get on the Internet!"

"What if they don't like the Internet?"

"Usually some people… I’ll let Nya go. I’ll finish my point after."

"Can we get back on topic?"

"First, I want to say something about the real question…. I would want to take a picture. If you take pictures more people will know. I understand what Daniel is talking about with people not having computers but instead of talking about problems, what about solutions? Like making flyers instead."

The Fishbowl discussion lasts for about 10 minutes.  Allie calls everyone back to their seats and they begin to analyze the transcript together.  She asks the class, "do you think this was a strong or weak Fishbowl? Why or why not?"

"I really think it was slightly good because first we started off talking about the topic, but then we got a little off because we got mad about Daniel’s answer… then people started yelling and they weren’t taking turns."

"I think this fishbowl was all right.. I only think we had issues with transitioning, but otherwise I noticed Nadia, Daniel, Bronson were tracking and asking questions… I think it’s good we figured it out."

After discussing what went well and what could have gone better, they set goals for a second Fishbowl: do better at providing evidence, stay on topic, people on the outside should do a better job of "tracking" the conversation.  They also add two sub-questions to the topic: "what source would you use to spread the word?" and "what does change the world mean?" Here are some excerpts from the second Fishbowl:

"I think they should do both, like Niyah said, in the picture of the woman who was shot I saw all the photographers trying to get the best picture so they could get photography awards. I don't think it’s right. They could have taken her to the hospital."

"Why did they shoot her instead of arresting her just because she stole? Some criminals steal more."

"It could have not just been that she stole the chairs while the police tried to take her away. She could have assaulted an officer. You wouldn't kill someone for stealing chairs, there are more valuable things in the world."

"I want to hear from Elijah."

"you shouldn’t get shot for stealing something."

"I was going to ask, why did she steal the chairs? Did she need it?"

"I’m sorry for cutting you off but Ms. Gross just said stay on topic."

"Did anyone think they could put it on the Internet? Someone could start a protest or something, like when the kids heard that the school was going to close and they protested for it to stay open."

"Actually I think he made a good point, he made a text-to-world connection… how one text is like another… and I think you should do both because actually if I had to choose I would do both, Because the police should get bad guys but they were the bad guys."

"I changed my mind, people can effect change by putting it on the internet, then people can start a protest, like the protest where the kids walked out of class to get their point across."

After the second Fishbowl ends, they do another transcript-analysis.  This time they focus on two questions: what was strong or weak about the process of our Fishbowl?  and what was strong or weak about the content?  The students conclude that the process of this Fishbowl was worse than the first one because there were more people walking around the room, causing distractions.  Then they turn to me and ask my opinion.  I tell them that think the content was noticeably better because they got to what I saw was the heart of the issue: what does it actually mean to change the world?

Then they ask me what I’m planning to do with the story that I’m writing about their class.  I tell them that  I’m going to put it on the Internet so that other people can learn about the work they’re doing in their classroom to change themselves to change the world.  But then I start to wonder, is that the most effective way to change the world?  They’ve got me thinking about my thinking...

Written by Jenny Lee.

Read previous DFS classroom visit blog posts exploring Curiosity and Critical Consciousness.