Simpson Street Free Press
Simpson Street Free Press (SSFP) provides an interlocking network of project-based academic support programs for students in grades 3-12. SSFP operates 52 weeks per year at four sites in south and southeast Madison. All SSFP programs are free. Programs expand during summer semester. Programs are designed to nurture imagination, curiosity, and academic confidence. Young people encounter predictable connections to the school day.
Writing for Publication: Writing, skill acquisition, and confidence are central to SSFP pedagogy. Students produce six separate youth publications–including two bilingual newspapers. Young reporters conduct research (close reading), take notes, plan and outline. SSFP newsrooms are full of history texts, science magazines, and atlases. Initial source material is always written text. We teach a multi-step writing process that students understand and master. Outlines, notes, and first drafts are done using pencils and legal pads. Subsequent drafts are revised at computers. Writing conferences with editors occur throughout the process. We also use peer review. Students write about core subject areas (science, geography, history, books) so that content area understanding improves. Skills learned in a newsroom are easily transferred to the classroom. Programs are designed to improve grades, school-day attendance, and reading scores.
Youth Leadership: SSFP uses the term "multi-mission" to explain our approach to academic support. At SSFP college-age editors, retired teachers, and professional journalists help young people hone and polish academic skills. Students quickly learn the ropes and are promoted through the newsroom ranks. In SSFP curriculum writing and literacy are portals. Students acquire practical tools that help prevent summer slide, improve school performance, apply at any job site, and provide leadership opportunities. SSFP youth produce tangible products that inspire peers. As our name suggests, journalism is a great way to foster curious young people. SSFP youth leaders work in neighborhoods where they grew up, using a curriculum they've mastered. Professional internships at local media outlets are available.
Book Clubs: SSFP operates age-appropriate book clubs. Students from around Dane County can join, whether enrolled in other SSFP programs or not. Book club participation is an ongoing assignment for SSFP student reporters. We measure the number of book review assignments completed by each writer per semester as a program outcome. SSFP publishes dozens of student-written book reviews each semester (including summer).
Students choose the club they join (or book they read) based on interest or what they’re reading at school. They blog with peers, using a secure SSFP site monitored by teachers. Students also write, submitting reviews at school and/or for publication. Editors assist with writing and revision. Students learn to read for pleasure, write well, and synthesize facts. Several clubs operate at any one time. Each new book launches a new club.
Video Production: SSFP students use new media technology to produce book trailers. These video productions review books instead of movies. Widely available online and in schools, these book trailers inspire young readers. Whether publishing online, producing videos or conducting research, technology training and practical workplace skills are always part of SSFP curriculum. We offer a summer internship program for high school students.
South Towne Youth Center: The SSFP South Towne site offers a range of activities for kids and families. We operate 52 weeks per year and programs expand during summer semester. Classic films, 1970s board game nights, book clubs, quiz bowls, math tutoring, and a range of other activities and programs are offered throughout the year. We encourage parents to visit the South Towne youth center and talk with staff about available program options. Please call to set up an appointment and tour (608-223-0489). South Towne center programs are designed to bolster literacy and make learning fun, cool, and doable.