Stepping Stones Across the Digital Divide
By Marsha Daniels and Karen Eoff
An educational journey that will impact the lives of 50 female third graders at two schools and the lives of their parents for many years to come is the result of a Women’s Educational Equity grant. The two schools represented are Garfield Charter School and Caesar Chavez School in San Mateo County, California.
Teachers deliver curriculum designed and supported by technology director Shelly Luke Wille with an emphasis on writing in an optional after-school setting that involves an extensive parental involvement component. The goal of this program is to have the girls proficient on the NETS. Parents providing homework help is also in important result of the project. Skills to be mastered include working collaboratively and enhancing technology skills. A side benefit has been the girls’ emerging leadership skills and their willingness to become problem-solvers in the classroom. In January 2003, the project began and is scheduled to continue through the 2007 school year. Bilingual teachers deliver the course content.
One of the highlights of the project has been the creation of each family’s digital story. This process involved each family weaving its unique story into a digital format. The Center for Digital Storytelling in Berkley, California provided instruction and support for the families to produce their unique stories. Girls and parents collaborated on technical skills and the storytelling process.
Program outcomes include increased proficiency on the NETS along with a collection of digital family stories. Other relevant outcomes include a curriculum that can be replicated by other schools, improved technology and employability skills for parents, and student leadership, collaboration, problem solving and decision-making skills.
What’s next in this innovative project? Home access for the students via a thin client network is the next major hurdle. Students will be empowered learners who can learn anytime anywhere.