The Kinder & Braver World Project

From danah boyd –

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is pleased to announce the publication of eight new of papers in The Kinder & Braver World Project: Research Series (danah boyd, John Palfrey, and Dena Sacco, editors) as part of its collaboration with the Born This Way Foundation (BTWF), and generously supported by the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.  The Kinder & Braver World Project: Research Series is comprised of short papers that are intended to help synthesize research and provide research-grounded insight to the variety of stakeholders working on issues related to youth empowerment and action towards creating a kinder, braver world.

The eight new papers focus on The Role of Youth Organizations and Youth Movements for Social Change, and were selected among submissions from a call for papers that the Berkman Center put out in June 2012.  They include:

I can’t imagine a better time for this to appear.

Sylvia

I’ll write that app for you

classRecently, MIT App Inventor featured a story about Pauline Lake, a Trinty College student in Connecticut who developed and runs an app invention class for high school students. Curious, I gave Pauline a call and we talked about her idea and how the class has run.

App Inventor is a set of tools and resources to write software applications (apps) for the Android phone. Google has given/shared the Android App Inventor with MIT so it is freely available for all to use. EdWeek has also profiled a couple of programs where young people learn to write apps.

But Pauline’s story struck me. Here was one young college student who wanted to do something to help other young people learn important skills. Pauline told me that she is pursuing two majors, education studies and computer science, and that she is the only one at her college doing that. She went on to talk about how she has shaped her course and the resources over several trials in local schools, learning what works best to engage high school students. She’s even taught students as young as 4th to 6th grade how to program apps. Although she’s won awards for her work (and met Michelle Obama at the White House), she worries that the programs won’t continue. However, she is working to spread the idea locally and with presentations at STEM conferences in her area.

But most of all what impressed me was her pride in her students and the changes that a simple programming class had brought to their lives. When you talk to Pauline, it is not difficult to see that creating engaging learning experiences in computer science for young people really matters.

Her resources and lesson plans are all free online on her website.

Sylvia

Student Tech Leadership Summer Camp

Granville Students Attend Regional NYSSTL Training

Five students from Granville Central School District in New York attended a week long New York State Student Technology Leader (NYSSTL) Training Camp at WSWHE BOCES in Saratoga, during the last week of July. At the summer camp, students learned how to become New York State Student Technology Leaders in their school. There were approximately 30 students from WSWHE BOCES regional schools, from as far south at Ballston Spa Central School and as far north as North Warren Central School.

At the camp, students discussed and demonstrated their understanding of crucial contemporary Internet technology topics, including Internet safety and ethics, copyright and fair use, citing sources of information, evaluating websites and checking author credibility, netiquette, cyber bullying, and digital footprints.  They also learned to use new technologies and completed two technology projects using these tools to demonstrate their technology literacy.

As the training progressed, students spent time learning to become peer mentors, so that they can help other students with technology projects at school. They practiced this skill at the camp as they completed work on technology projects throughout the week.

Students were also trained to assist teachers with technology. They were provided with accounts and taught how to access and use their school’s NYSSTL Help Desk which is an online tracking system and communication tool. Students learned how to help teachers request a TAP or Technology Assistance Project, and also how to use many of the tools built into the online help desk.

In addition to discussions, role plays, and working with computers and various peripheral devices, students also participated in recreational games such as competition cup stacking, bocce, ladder ball, and ultimate Frisbee. All students who attended the camp received complimentary breakfast, lunch, and desserts, such as make your own sundaes. They also received embroidered NYSSTL T-shirts, TechYES Technology Literacy Student Guides, 4GB flash drives, and messenger bags, which they decorated with fabric markers at camp.

Granville Computer Technology Teacher/NYSSTL Advisor, Leanne Grandjean, along with experienced Student Technology Leaders, freshman, Josh Sumner, and sophomore, Marc Billow, also went to the camp to lead and support students who were training to become Student Technology Leaders.

Mote here!

Teacher Training, Taught by Students

Teacher Training, Taught by Students

“In a role reversal, Ms. O’Bryant and other teachers at Brick Avon Academy are getting pointers from their students this year as part of an unusual teacher training program at 19 low-performing Newark schools.

The lesson learned by Ms. O’Bryant? “It makes you think about really hearing the kids,” she said. “You can learn from them. They have their own language.”

The training program, which is supported by a federal grant, is being run by the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education, a nonprofit group based in Syosset, N.Y. During a daylong workshop, teachers were instructed by the group’s trainer, Eyka Stephens, to watch their students teach mock lessons, study their methods and language, and discuss together what works (and what does not).” (Read more…)

Why does this work? It’s not because the kids are delivering the content better – it’s because of the sense of community and collaboration that’s developed as the learner/teacher roles blur.

Sylvia

Free access – Educational Leadership: Working with Tech-Savvy Kids

Working with Tech-Savvy Kids article in Educational Leadership

ASCD’s magazine Educational Leadership has opened up our article Working with Tech-Savvy Kids for free online access. We really appreciate this!

Today’s students are increasingly savvy about the role technology plays in modern life. Yet schools are not keeping up. Students can be valuable resources in the areas of training and support. Five models have emerged that balance the benefits of service learning and leadership with the needs of schools struggling to integrate technology: students as committee members, students as trainers, students as technical support agents, students as resource developers and communicators, and students as peer mentors and leaders.

The article gives five models of student leadership that can support 21st century learning in schools, with case studies from real schools who use students as leaders, teachers, mentors, and advocates. There is lots more in the article, but here’s a quick “Getting Started” list for student leadership teams focused on technology.

Getting Started

Creating a plan that includes students in school technology decision making and implementation is just the first step. Keep the following in mind:

  • Provide student access to training, hardware, and software as needed.
  • Give students adequate time and attention to help them grow into their new roles. They will not automatically know how to participate in these opportunities. Encourage a student-led culture with real responsibility that increasingly challenges students to step up and prove themselves. Reward proven responsibility with increased trust.
  • Don’t forget your younger students. It’s never too early for authentic learning opportunities, and these students can be surprisingly helpful with concrete, well-defined tasks.
  • Plan for turnover. Continually recruit and train new students. Allow veteran student leaders to mentor new recruits.
  • Look for ways to encourage long-term student involvement. Make student involvement part of a credit-bearing class, which counts toward graduation or service-learning credits. This involvement can also take the form of independent study or an internship.
  • Create an adult advisory position. This person should have a passion for student empowerment. The advisor will monitor participation, recruit and train new members, and facilitate group activities.
  • Be sure to include school administration and staff in planning for any for-credit student tech-support classes or similar courses. School counselors need to know that these classes will have high expectations for students to participate, collaborate, and be independent thinkers and leaders. Create a plan to recruit students and persevere, even if the classes are small to begin with.
  • Don’t mistake the ease with which youth today use technology in their everyday lives for knowing how to use it in education settings. Teach them the appropriate use of technology and its role in enhancing learning.

Working with Tech-Savvy Kids article (Educational Leadership) – Enjoy!

Sylvia

Connecting Curriculum with Community

The current issue of District Administrator magazine (October 2010) is online with a great article about service-learning. Elementary students in the Montpelier (Vt.) Public Schools visit the Montpelier Visitor Center to create a Kids Guide for touristsNow, service-learning is not just “kids helping out.” It’s a way to combine academics with real-world applications and authentic learning.

Connecting Curriculum with Community by Susan Gonsalves, explains this concept with a vibrant mix of research, expert voices, and examples of what students are doing to make a difference at home and around the world.

Be sure to check out the special sidebar called, “Applying Service Learning to Technology,” where one of our Generation YES districts, San Juan School District in California, is profiled. I’ve written about San Juan before, but now a much wider audience can see what a great job they are doing with technology for teachers and students, and how their GenYES students support makes it more likely that technology is used in every classroom. The article quotes Nina Mancina, San Juan’s program specialist for special projects and grants.

“A key component of GenYES is the pairing of students and teachers to find ways to creatively integrate technology programs into the curriculum. “The students become so engaged as they find this connection with teachers, and [the process] gives them a sense of belonging that is very powerful,” Mancina says. Students often act as teachers for a day, giving presentations about the ins and outs of working with a particular computer program in front of an audience of both instructors and peers. They are also called upon to perform technical support when computers break down.”

So, can I do this?
You may be thinking that in this day and age, this is a “nice to have” rather than a “gotta have.” But here are two things that may change your mind. (quoted from article, emphasis mine)

  1. Research linking higher academic achievement with service learning projects is limited but growing. This fall, Learn and Serve plans to launch a large-scale study to track and compare student progress by testing in classrooms across the united States with and without service learning. a series of studies by Shelley Billig, vice president of RMC Research Corporation, links higher state test scores with service learning participation. Students in high-quality service learning classrooms also were found to have higher average daily attendance and less tardiness than students from comparison classrooms.
  2. Funding from Learn and Serve America makes it possible for more than 1.5 million students from kindergarten to college to devote nearly 20 million hours in service learning projects annually in 1,600 local programs across the country. Additionally, about one-quarter of the nation’s elementary and secondary schools have adopted service learning programs, with 40 percent of these making service learning an integral part of their curriculum.

So does that change your mind? Students CAN make a difference, it’s GOOD for them in many different ways, and your school (and teachers) NEED HELP. Why not tie all these together into one package!

The ISTE opening keynote – what I wish had been said

I know  this is not fair – Monday morning quarterbacking what someone else said in a keynote. I respect people who keynote, it’s a very difficult job to be entertaining while delivering a coherent, interesting message for a large, diverse audience. I cringe when people criticize, yet here I am doing it.

I did a quick blog post a few days ago about the keynote by Jean-Francois Rischard, the author of High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them. His book identifies urgent global issues and proposes better, alternative methodologies for developing solutions. According to Mr. Rischard, the effectiveness of any solution to a global problem hinges on technological innovation and collective action, including action by students.

But as I was listening, here’s what I wish he was saying.

  • These global problems must be solved by including people who are traditionally not included in solutions to big problems. These problems cannot be solved by the “usual suspects” – governments, military, big corporations, etc. We must find ways to include people who do not usually get invited to the table – people in small countries, the poor, and youth. The voice and energy of these traditionally disenfranchised people are necessary to solve these problems.
  • Technology is a solution to bringing these voices out and including people who are not at the table (yet.)
  • Youth must be at the table for the solutions of the future to be viable. They are the ones who will live there, they are the ones who will solve the problems.

In my mind, the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) movement is based on these ideas. Putting the power of the computer directly into the hands of children around the world means that these children have unprecedented access to information and ideas that can change their lives and their communities, and perhaps the world.

And why bring this message to ISTE 2010? Because these educators are where these youth are, and understand technology. Youth are not going to suddenly rise up and do this by themselves – the Facebook group “I hate BP” is not going to solve the oil spill problem.

Educators are like sherpas for the future. By guiding students to develop a global perspective, problem-solving skills and a voice, they are creating capacity for these students to gradually solve larger and more global problems. Students may not start by tackling global warming, but by helping to clean up the local marsh. The skills of collaboration, teamwork, creative problem solving are the same. Having an educator who can guide this process and help students learn these skills as they tackle real problems is crucial.

I think Mr. Rischard missed the point by saying that we should develop curriculum for K-12 that does this. I believe students learn these things by DOING them, starting at a smaller scale, but really doing things that matter, and with guidance from adults who have a real relationship with their students.

I’m reminded of my own daughter who was a theater and choir kid. The TV show Glee is essentially about her. One year the school board had to cut the budget and decided to cut field trips and transportation – but allowed an exception if the students were “participating” in whatever the event was. It meant that the football team kept their busses, but the drama trip to the Shakespeare performance was cancelled because they would be “just watching”.

The drama kids were of course upset and decided to “do something about it.” Luckily, the drama teacher was trusted by the kids, and they shared their frustrations and plans with her. She worked with them – past the plan to TP the board members houses to a plan to go to the school board meeting. She helped them understand that they could frame their argument in an educational context rather than an “it’s not fair the jocks get everything” argument. And she could do this because she was willing to listen — and because she listened to them, they listened to her.

The happy ending to that story is that they got the policy rewritten, and got a lot of praise from the school board for their thoughtful arguments that the creative process needed both participation and expertise. The clincher argument (thought of by one of the students) was that the policy would have allowed a trip to a “Color Me Mine” – one of those do-it-yourself pot painting storefronts, but not a trip to the art museum.

The point is that if we want to solve global problems, we know we need technology, we know we need the students who will solve these problems to come togther, and we know we need educators willing to develop real relationships with youth along the way.

The thousands of educators at ISTE 2010 hold the key to all of these.

Sylvia

-Posted from the Blogger’s Cafe at ISTE 2010

Six Myths About Service Learning

From Principal Leadership magazine: Six Myths About Service Learning by Scott Richardson and Michael Josephson.

Service learning is the Rodney Dangerfield of education. Students say that it’s an “annoying requirement.” Parents say, “My kid will learn more in the classroom than in the community.” Teachers say, “It won’t improve test scores.” Principals say, “It’s a feel-good mandate that kids aren’t capable of understanding.”

Read this article to find out about the six myths and the real facts about service learning. Done right, service learning benefits students both academically and socially, creates opportunities for learning citizenship, empowers youth, and benefits schools and communities. And that’s no myth!

Sylvia

Edutopia – Students Teach Technology to Teachers

“When middle school students Alison and Nat confer with their teachers, it’s to talk about the lessons the students are preparing for student teachers as part of a new Generation www.Y program. The young people are part of a growing group in schools across the country who are sharing their own expertise to help make prospective teachers more aware of how students learn and the best ways technology can be used to support their learning.”

Edutopia, the website of the George Lucas Educational Foundation published this story and video on the GenYES program in Olympia, WA. The video is from a while back when the model was called Generation www.Y. That was a bit difficult to pronounce, so we changed the name to GenYES.

This video was created during an interesting time period – the GenYES students not only worked with teachers at their school, but formed teams with their teacher and a pre-service teacher. These 3 member teams learned and taught each other technology, and prepared lessons using new technology. Just another way students can be involved in improving education for all!

Sylvia