Since the last time, our project has received more press. We were featured on The Bakersfield Californian AND the KQED Mind/Shift blog. I have also spoken to several people at the district who were excited about the project. I hope to keep up the energy and continue with the project.
I have had a few busy days. The mentoring project has been going extremely well. So well that a news reporter came to do a story on my students (http://www.turnto23.com/news/local-news/independence-high-school-seniors-are-the-first-to-use-mentoring-technology-to-help-chicago-students).
My students have done blogging of their own on iRemix website and began providing feedback to the students in Chicago. I do fear, however, that some teachers looking at this project might overlook how much work it is for me to train the mentors. I think that is
one of the biggest mistakes that a teacher hoping to utilize technology can make: giving students access to technology without thinking about the serious upfront training AND ongoing support.
Before my students were allowed to be on the system, I did many lessons on how to provide feedback, such as how to say "Yes, and." and using positive phrases such as "do something" rather than "don't do something." They had to work on using Google Docs. They did many presentations to get comfortable with interacting with one another. The bottom line is that I have invested in a lot of time and prep work before I let them have access to the wesite because I was hoping to develop my students as positive mentors that they are today.
Technology is great. I absolutely love them. But without a sound pedagogy, it's just a fancy tool. Sometimes it will get in the way of achieving your goal. I am hoping that the teachers who want to implement this project will be cognizant of that.
Asking for Help
When I was the Arvin High HOSA coach, I never had a problem asking for money. But for my school, why do I have such a problem asking for money? Two of my cadre members are on GoFund.com, asking for donations to their causes, which are exactly the same as mine. I thought about signing up for an account, then I decided against it. As Emliy Bronte once said, "Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves." But for now, I will stay proud.
As many teachers know, teaching seniors can be tricky. On one hand, senior teachers should help the students achieve their ultimate goal of high school graduation. On the other hand, senior teachers must prepare them to leave high school and join the adulthood. So for the past several months, I have been "hard" on my seniors by giving them zeros and not letting them turn in late work. I hate being that teacher who won't extend the deadline, but I am noticing a trend.
Why is it that the students will not turn in the assignments on time if they realize that the teacher will give extra time? I have been patient. I have been kind. I have even been flexible. But some of my students do not seem to utilize the opportunites given to them correctly. It is so frustrating to see why my students would continue to miss their deadlines.
Having said that, I see now that some of my students are learning a lot of useful skills. They are writing better. They know how to work with others.
Class Without a Teacher
Since I began my doctoral course, I have had to take time off. At first, I was rather hesitant to be gone. But once I decided that my students becoming their own teachers is the best result of my teaching, I began think about ways to facilitate that. I have been extremely satisfied with using Edmodo for that. I was gone for three days last week, yet I was able to track my students' progress. I think that my students still need me, but I also feel that I am training them to be a part of the 21st century learning system they are likely to encounter.
Getting Back on the Horse
One of the toughest things that I found about maintaining a blog is the discipline it takes to write. With my new doctoral program and taking on new classes, I haven't been able to really keep up with my blog posting. I contemplated completely getting rid of this section of my website.
Then I remembered what I always tell my students. When my students ask me whether it would be too late for them to turn in their missing assignments, I typically ask them whether they have already completed it or not. I tell them to ask me after they have done the work. I also tell them as long as they are alive, there still is a chance to improve and get better.
So here I go again. I have tried to maintain a blog so many times. I have neither been consistent nor thorough. But I am going to try to write at least once a month. That is my new year’s resolution.
Wish me luck!
My students' introduction videos are now uploaded to Youtube. I am a bit hesitant to share their links for fear of them being on the web. That is one of the reasons why I love working with the Chicago folks. They are buildling a closed website for students to experiment and explore without having to be out on the web exposed and unprotected. I also love that they have built layers for the students.
The project is moving along rather nicely. I wish I had more time to talk about it, but my students began working on their introduction videos today. I've considered having them upload their individual message to my Youtube channel, but I think that I should have a bit more control over the process. I KNOW I am making more work for myself, but I think it will be a bit more streamlined for the teachers in Chicago if they have to watch one video clip rather than 30.
My students began working on their resume and cover letter to be connected to the Digital Youth Network. They are reather excitied about the prospect of becoming interns and helping Chicago 6th graders.
In order to help them take things seriously, I asked them to create a resume and a cover letter. It turned out to be a great lesson for them because everyone could use a resume and a cover letter.
I wish I could get more adult mentors to review their product, but without that piece, my students are showing a lot of enthusiasm. I can tell this is going to be a great project.
It is incredible, but Tracy Edwards from Pepperdine EDLT Cadre 15 and I have decided to work on a project to connect my students with her students. I am so thankful that her team has build this incredible website to be used (http://c21.iremix.me/users/sign_in). And it was so nice to talk to her about why connecting youths across the United States is such a great solution to the writing instruction. I can't wait to tell my students that they will become writing mentors to many 6th graders in Chicago. I know they will absolutely love it!
I am a mother, wife, and English teacher. I moved from Korean when I was 23 without speaking English. Now I teach English. I want to be an Educational-Neuroscientist when I grow up!