– Public Presentations of Learning Stimulate Deeper Learning
I loved being a teacher and relished in the futuristic vision of myself.
I’d sport salt and pepper grey hair like my Grandma Lu, thoughtfully sip my decaf coffee from my Wonder Woman traveler mug, and still execute perfectly timed dance moves through lessons, discussions, and projects for the enjoyment of my students. I always knew that if I ever left the classroom it would have to be for something important, and I couldn’t think of anything more important than positively impacting the lives of young people. Then I learned about a career opportunity that would allow me to do just that, but on a national scale, and I was all in.
I was asked to Co-Direct the Share Your Learning Campaign, a national initiative that aims to empower 300,000 teachers to shape the path for five million students to publicly present their learning to an audience beyond the classroom by the year 2020, and I said, “Yes.”
Although I had strong reservations about leaving the security of my classroom and the mutual love and respect of “my babies,” aka my students, I was eager to be a part of a nationwide transformation of student learning.
TchLaureate Geneviève Debose Akinnagbe teaches ELA at Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists (BSSWA) in New York City, a secondary school where teachers refer to their students as “Scholar-Activists.” She’s developed a unit on Scholar Activism for her middle school students so they have a better idea of what that title means and the honor it carries.
So far, we’ve explored the following questions:
What, exactly, is “scholar activism,” and why is it important to teach our students about scholar activism in the classroom?
In this post, Geneviève focuses on the ways we can collaborate with a range of community members, like fellow educators, students’ families, and community organizations, to create an authentic and engaging learning experience for our students (aka scholar-activists).
Let’s listen to Geneviève as she shares her ideas:
How could Syrian refugees transform a school in Los Angeles from 7,500 miles away?
Technology has truly opened classroom doors and communication between students in different schools or districts — whether nearby or across the country. Opportunities to engage with peers who may have different perspectives are becoming more and more common. For example, Jo Paraiso uses Google Hangouts with her students so they can talk with peers across the country.
However, it’s not so often, if ever, that you hear about students in South Los Angeles, Jordan, and Syria having the opportunity to speak to one another, and most definitely not about difficult issues impacting their respective communities. Through the Global Nomads Group’sPulse program, Syrian and Jordanian students in Amman connected with peers in Los Angeles for a live conversation to do just that.
Sharing a virtual reality experience, curricular resources, and live dialogue, the students learned about one another, the Syrian Refugee crisis, the challenges each community faced, and how they could take action in their own communities.
Does social-emotional learning really make a difference for at-risk students? In Part Three of our series on Social and Emotional Learning, Daniel McCutchen, a recently graduated student from Austin High School in Austin, Texas, joins Tch Talks to discuss his experiences in an intentional SEL-dedicated course. Daniel is not only a former learner, but also attends national conferences and presents on the topic with his teacher. Learn how SEL helped Daniel adjust to the demands and expectations of high school, to prioritize the most important things in his life, and to develop life skills that he is able to apply in a variety of circumstances.
Research tells us that LGBTQ students continue to experience harassment and discrimination at school, and these climates negatively affect health and educational outcomes. However, the narratives mean more coming directly from the students themselves. Below are the responses offered by three students when asked what they would like teachers to know about their experiences as gender-nonconforming students. Read more
We were weeks into our new journey of bringing the science fair into the 21st century: Science In The Sky.
Everything is digital so why haven’t science fairs caught up? Well, my students were doing it! A feverish pitch exploded early amongst my scientific teams once scientists from around the world started responding to different blog postings. Elshaddai and his team were working hard collecting data on their hypothesis about whether the moon does or doesn’t affect mood. “I don’t even know where Luxemburg, Munich, Hong Kong… I don’t know where any of these places are!” I overheard him saying to his team. Using social media, I was able to distribute their survey around the world and excitement ensued when data started to pour in because they had no idea that I’d done this.
Last Wednesday morning, before the school doors opened for our middle and high school students, Mr. David, our principal at Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists in New York City, announced over the loudspeaker that we’d have a short faculty meeting in the library. A few of my colleagues and I had already gathered in a classroom, hugging one another, checking in, and reflecting on the results of the previous night’s election.
We weren’t sure how we’d talk to our students about the results and were seeking ideas from one another. When our principal’s announcement came over the loudspeaker, I was relieved. I wanted to come together with my peers to process and talk about what we’d just experienced as a nation.