sample student writing
Every day, after several hours of design and construction work, students do reflective writing about their experiences.
Rafael Cabrera
Shawn Robinson
Amanda Rodriguez-Archer
Frank Pomponi
Steven Martinez
Reggie Qualls
Brandon Rivera
Victoria Thomas
Justin Bell
“I feel like I actually accomplished something, so I can go home and rest, knowing that I actually deserve the rest instead of feeling like I did nothing with my life.”
“I accomplished something good/great.  Now I’m ready to enjoy a rewarding “sandwedge”. I’m hungry again, but now I have a reason to be, more than just because I’m a growing boy.”
"I learned a lot of math today.  It's really hard to get it but I know I'm going to get it."
“Before I started the Urban Workshop program, I didn’t even do my homework or do anything, but when I started with the program, I improved with everything, especially doing my homework and coming to school on time.  And this program is fun also!”
“Team is about everyone working with each other, helping each other and making something...  Team is about the soul, about everything.”
“We work together, and if we don't, we don't get anything done.”
“What keeps me motivated in Urban Workshop is knowing that every little thing I do I can use in the future.”
“Ouch, ow, ooo, that hurts.  Why must you hammer me in so hard?  I promise to stay in.  Just be gentle.  Take your time and don’t hurt me!  Only way I can hold anything is if I am straight.”
"For the first time, I had applied math to a real world application. It's amazing how something that seems so complex in the classroom could be used and applied so effortlessly without even knowing it.  It feels nice and I feel as though I have actually accomplished something academically and morally.  I mean this in the sense that I learned to apply algebra to real world scenarios, and in the process I have begun to help someone…"
“Aside from the cold damp rain that preceded the work day, the shop was reasonably comfortable. The air is somewhat chilly, but the moisture made the wood emit a familiar and unique odor. The smell took me back to a time when I would go camping in the summer and wake up after a brief rainfall, the smell of the timber, damp with morning dew was a pleasing smell to me. “
“It gave me the feeling of worth. It was very diligent work. I assumed I was just going to go right into what I was doing. This was not the case. I had to stop and try to identify certain techniques.”
measure the wood
cut the wood
screw the wood
after all of that it looks good
a large wooden frame
i have the feeling like i just won a game
the feeling of pride caressed
my ego but i'm not boastful
i'm just hopeful that maybe
i can make it like jonas said its all gravy
be a successful maybe i could
look at what i learned from cutting some wood.
 “When I use a hammer my hand feels cramped up…like my hand is in a knot. But I still take the pain and still hammer with a stiff hand…the wood gives me little splinters; it feels like I am touching a porcupine.”
“Urban Workshop has helped me to know why academics are important even for future occupations.  This makes me feel better becasue I actually feel involved in the assignments that we do.  I’m so interested in this program that during the vacation I came here to finish a project.   The second day I came, I helped design the next task we needed to do.  I used a lot of math... In this program, I have learned how to use fractions well and use shapes to make things perfectly.”
“I like the feeling of a huge empty warehouse. This was something I never expected to end up doing in school, I’m glad to be doing it…There’s kind of a peace to building, working with your hands that’s hard to find anywhere else.”
Bar Clamp Haiku
I hate those bar clamps
And I’m sure they hate me too.
They plot to loosen.    
“Coat’s two shades darker, but I like it that way. Cold here still, and still, vast and quiet, but it felt more alive today, ever without music. I guess I enjoy the CON-structive more than I do the DE-structive. I like the thought and being able to see the new, better product of my work.”
“Dear Pallet,
    Today I must say I had way more fun with you than yesterday.  At the same time, I learned value and destruction can be done at the same time.  While working with you these last two days, I learned how to release both force and anger in a good way that could help me and others around me.  I broke you today.  I am so happy now…”
“Today me and Justin did a little math and measuring. Same thing, I know, but it felt different in a way…I am finally getting used to the pallet and taking my time. As soon as I master it, I am going to rule the ‘Pallet Kingdom.’”
"When they first told me that we were turning pallets into shelves, I was like no way, we can't do that, but when they told me how to do it, I was like Ohh, that's how you do it.  It was cool."
“Today was a wonderful day.  I finally got fractions.  I've been in school for 10 years and I just got the way fractions work.  I swear if I would've never joined this program, I would've never got it, because I would've kept saying I hate fractions, but I think from now on I think I kinda like them.”
“I would have to say I think the saw was in pain because I was jamming it into the wood so it could cut.  Every time you put the saw into the wood, you know how it makes that sound?  That sound is the wood crying for help!”
When there is that first whisper,
that dreaded, reedy timber
the first excuse is to blame
dry cracked wood.
“The saw blade has always been an extension of my mind.  It makes ideas into objects.”
“The clang of hammers is now the near-silent scratch of pen nib, a light twinkle of earphone music.  A forklift rattles by somewhere, and we’re done for the day.”
“The Speed Square – When I get it seated on the wood’s edge, when the other leg drops straight down, then everything falls into place…You might call it the stiff upper lip. You might say it bites on the wood. You might feel its edge clench the edge, jaw-like. But it never chews, never consumes, never swallows.”
“Old plywood, have you simply reached a roughshod enlightenment?
"I've been slaughtered, cut, used, reused, screwed, unscrewed, hauled, unloaded, nailed and re-nailed -- and still I live on."
“The give – that one give opens a door of satisfied accomplishment.  The knowledge in that 1/2 second that it is going to dive straight into the pool of wood with hardly a splash…a victory.”
 “Standing on the corner of 149th was a moment to talk. It seems like there was momentum and thoughts running rampant in his head and they all came tumbling out. College. Work. Dad. Future. The now. It seems like it could go in a bad way. But it was a full moment.”
“Watching Amanda wrestle with the perfection and practical was a beauty in itself.  There was energy today that was solid.  You could hear it in the silent gaps.  Reggie disappeared into the work today, like he was a natural element of the environment.”
Caroline Suh
Dan Morgenroth
Jonas Shantz
Staff Writing
Chris Pabey
“In Urban Workshop, my personality has progressed.  Little by little, I am starting to come every day to school.  I am also starting to do my class work.   I am starting to arrive on time to school.  I get most of my work done in Urban Workshop, and I get help when I need it.  Urban Workshop is fun because while I am doing construction, I am learning new things such as Spanish, math and construction skills.  I love this program, and it is helping me to do well in school.”
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