Tuesday, September 18, 2007

virtual college and the digital divide

this is ms. yglesias, the tech coordinator at earhart middle school, and her thoughts on the digital divide.

i'm so proud of myself! it's been a tech-day, and i have great blogworthy things to say that are DIRECTLY relevant to technology in the school and in the students' lives. of course, since our digital divide "episode" is coming up on friday (you'll see and should come!), everything has been themed that as we put our presentation together and have an excellent time doing it. one interesting aspect from my research was a report published by the university of toronto which talks about the multiplicity of the divides and insists that "divide" should always be plural, as they are interconnected but have different elements. this is similar to the concept of multiple literacies that is always on the front burner of my brain, as both are often seen as singular and finite, but are both on a continuum. more thoughts on this on friday (stay tuned, insert shameless self-promotion here).

today in my placement was especially tech-shaped as i not only spent some time with ms. yglesias talking about such things, but we set up my gaggle account and on thursday i am going to help her set up the rest of my students' accounts. we also attempted to look at gradeconnect.com, but the site was down for maintenence, and even MORE exciting: my students are part of a pilot program with Wayne County Community College this semester. they are going to be taking an online college course (they're 8th graders!!) at WCCC and "become" virtual college students. mr. vasquez, the principal, emphasized the authenticity of this program by letting them know that we will be touring the campus, that they will receive ID cards and have access to the libraries and computer labs of WCCC. they will receive a syllabus and course-work that they must complete independently, first through their computer classes as part of the curriculum, but scaffolding them into doing some of the work at home. the class is called "career development and preparation 101" and the program consists of 3 middle school pilot groups in detroit.

and here's the real cool as hell thing. if they pass, they receive real college credit for taking the class. we filled out actual WCCC applications today with them in English class and had them write statements of purpose for the application. the program is designed to get the students interested in self-actualized learning and to show them that they can handle college-level work - it's just analytic, metacognitive thinking and self-direction.

the students were elated. they are so incredibly excited and said that they felt differently after we went back to 1st hour after the assembly. you could tell by the way that they carried themselves. mr. vasquez said to them "this is something that i believe you can do, and you can excel at. you're the first 8th graders in detroit to be college students! go home and tell your parents that you're a college student now and talk to them about this." it was adorable and you could see in their eyes that this was an opportunity that seemed surreal and strange to them. but the matter-of-fact approach that mr. v took and his enthusiasm spread from little giggles to wide-spread smiles on their faces by the end of the assembly.

i am soo excited to begin. and on a joking level, mr. vasquez (the principal) said "and for those of you lucky enough to have ms. fardig as your student teacher, now you can say to her, 'i'm on your level, man!'" they looked at me and i was like "it's true, you are!" i love my students more and more every day. and how ironic that on the day i come ready to discuss the digital divide, my students gain such a great technological opportunity seemingly out of the blue.



Ms. History Teacher said...

That pilot program with WCCC sounds AMAZING. I wish I was still at Earhart so I could see it firsthand. The emotional, social, educational benefits for these kids is going to really impact them; this is something they're going to remember for pretty much the rest of their lives (I know I would have!). What type of projects/assignments are they doing, do you know yet?

And what great prep for high school! I am noticing how many of my 9th graders are so not prepared for independent and self-directed work, following a syllabus or schedule, etc. This is going to be so great for your kids.

lolosita said...

i know!! i don't yet know what the projects and assignments are, but you better believe i'm gonna get the syllabus and figure it out. and just having mr. vasquez talk so much about how he believes in them is great advocacy; i want to work under a principal like him forever, you know? come and visit us sometime!