Mind Dump: Youth in Participatory Politics?

Let’s get the conversation started. What’s the role  of  youth in the democratic process?

As an English teacher, I am aware of the literacy skills crucial to being a contributing member of the democratic process. In the United States, we have the privilege of voting for those who represent us in government,

  • But how does one make an informed decision?
  • How does one attempt to make changes if our representatives aren’t working in our best interest?
  • How do we inform and persuade others for the need for change?

Literacy skills. It’s all about being able to research, read critically, and compose effective, logical texts that will appeal to varied audiences for a specific purpose.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s first gain an understanding of what youth today feel about political action.

  • Is it important?
  • Are there ways to foster agency in youth today?
  • What are the roles of all stakeholders in such a process?

Please contribute your thoughtful reflections on this HackPad:

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Reluctantly Leading, Eagerly Following

“I’m thinking about starting a National Writing Project site at UTA,” Jeannine started, “would you be co-director?”

“Sure,” I responded without hesitation because she had a knack of asking people to do things, and we just couldn’t refuse.

Did I know what NWP was? Heck, no. I was just dipping my toes in the shallow end of the infinity pool that is teaching.

Did I understand what being a co-director of an NWP site meant? Heck, no. How could I? Even if I had been a veteran TC or director at that point, I wouldn’t know. Roles are fluid and flexible in every NWP experience. Responsibilities are shared. Challenge and joy are waves that are parceled out across eager participants.

Did I expect anything to happen to this request made in passing? Heck, no. And that was just plain ignorant of me. It was as if I hadn’t been working with Jeannine for over a year. It was as if I had forgotten who she was, how I had found myself writing and analyzing and publishing under her mentorship. I should have known better.

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Fast forward.

“We got it!” she exclaimed over the phone, excitement rising from the the higher than normal trill in her voice.

“Got what?” I asked unsure of which endeavor she was speaking.

“NWP! We got the site funding!” she exclaimed giddily. “Get ready!”

What did that mean? How did it happen? What is NWP? 5 weeks in the summer? What?

And so it began, my journey with National Writing Project.

I had no idea what wealth this organization would add to my life, how it would nourish me and calm me and inspire me again and again. I had no idea this launch into NWP which had been planted in pretty nutrient-barren soil would repeatedly catapult me into reaching deep down and doing more than I thought I had in me. I don’t think anyone is quite prepared for the transformative process NWP carries with it.

All I know is every encounter with NWP is much like that time with Jeannine: clear vision, passion to do what’s best for learners, unquenchable thirst for learning, risk-taking, trusting, and above all, knowing where to go with the freedom of finding our own way of getting there.

We write the stories of our lives one page at a time, and our journeys with NWP are no different. Some of us take detours, others direct routes. Some of us hitch rides, Whatever our chosen or thrust-upon-us methods of movement, we know we will get there… together.

10 Tips for Engaging Students in Social Media Discussions

Part of my goal is being very transparent and open about sharing the work my learners do. I feel this is the best way to scale the types of learning experiences I feel make a real difference to my learners. Clearly, this is what works in my particular context, but I invite educators to hack and remix these practices to meet the needs of your learning landscape.

In an effort to collaborate, here is a KQED EdSpace blog post co-created by myself and some of my rockstar learners. Enjoy!

Last Day of National Poetry Month Post #2

We hosted a Slamming for a Cause event in December 2014. Each group chose an issue from a particular culture region to focus on. They wanted to call their audience to action.

New Tech High @ Coppell (NTH@C) Rookies hosted the event: chose the cause and charity that benefited from the night, competed to perform, contacted sponsors for dontations, held a silent auction, and had a bake sale. The event raised $2,000 for UNICEF and their efforts to end human trafficking.

This piece entitled Welcome by Travis Sadler and Eliza McElroy discussed immigration to the United States from Latin America.

Connected Learning… Global Learning for All!

I am reminded daily of the importance of personal learning networks to be introduced to a variety of resources. Let’s face it. We don’t have time to discover all the goodness that is out there on our own.

This link to Flat Connections was shared with me by Edna Phythian. Flat Connections is dedicated to Global Learning. Julie Lindsay, recipient of ISTE’s 2013 Making IT Happen Award and co-author of Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds, is at the helm of Flat Connections.

What is Flat Learning? According the site, “‘Flat’ learning is a multi-modal approach to learning with and from others in a global capacity. There is no hierarchy of learning as such – all voices are equal, there is no one dominant group delivering the information to another group. All learners, through the use of emerging technologies including Web 2.0 and mobile computing, develop a personal learning network, bring the world into their everyday teaching and learning, and learn about the world, with the world.”

This sounds to me a lot like Connected Learning, which is an approach that’s anchored on Six Principles. Learning is:

  • interest-driven
  • peer-supported
  • academically oriented
  • openly networked
  • production-centered
  • it has a shared purpose

Connected Learning

I have been interested in Connected Learning for over a year now, and not only does it remind me to refocus my practice on what really matters, it also affirms my natural instincts as an Educator Innovator with the National Writing Project. As an educator, more specifically an educator passionate about transforming education as a whole in order to grant access to ALL learners to relevant, meaningful learning experiences, I understand the importance of being able to state my beliefs, my values, and most importantly, discuss my practice in an open manner to help facilitate change.

So whatever you name it: Flat Learning, Global Learning, or my personal favorite, Connected Learning, just name it! Own your practice. Be informed. Find networks that constantly nurture your teaching. Discuss how education has evolved. Challenge others to advocate for necessary change in education.