There’s no faking it. I wasn’t born in the digital age; I am an alien in a strange world. Still. I was telling my students the other day that the first time I ever saw a computer was my freshman year of college. What’s worse is, the only course I ever “flunked” and had to retake in college was “Computer Programming 101″. You see, I didn’t even know the language- that “programming” didn’t mean, “how to turn it on”, but instead how to tell it what to do! It took me 2 different tries and a change of professors to get me passed that 100 level course!
So this COETAIL course was a stretch for me and it still is. However, the good news is that I fully understand the need for the paradigm shift in education. Our students don’t learn like we did; their tools are different than mine and that makes their minds work differently as well- to an extent. I have looked through their educational lenses and their prescription makes my eyesight look very near sighted.
But I tried to implement this perspective in my classes while learning it myself. I tried to let go of the fear of the unknown for me, where my students were comfortable. I gave them freedom to display what they had learned in the format they were used to. I think I might have gotten to the “infusion” stage with some “collaboration” happening as well.
Additionally, I began discussions with administration on the need to restructure some of our curricular designs to prepare our students better. The conversations are happening on putting structures in place so that our students are responsible digital citizens. I am on the 9th Grade Success Team- a group of high school teachers, counselors, and administrators committed to providing a unified, 21st century experience for our youngest high school students. These were both good perspective changers for me.
As for my students, they are far more comfortable than I am with this process, so I had to be willing to let them be creative and design their own learning. Teaching Religion is a unique calling and if there’s no application outside the classroom, then the in-class assessments are just busy work. That’s why I wanted to allow my Peer Counseling students the freedom to structure their own project to show application of all our skills, discussions, and learning over the semester. There was definitely the potential for students to do this project sans technology, and one of last semester’s “greatest successes” came without the use of any technology. However, another student decided to choose option #3 from below and made the following video:
Semester Project Or… “How I Know I Will Apply Peer Counseling to My Life”
The best thing about Peer Counseling class should be: what you’ve learned is applicable to your everyday life. Even if you never become a psychiatrist in the future, or even a peer counselor at SFS, you will find yourself in multiple circumstances where the skills you learned in class, are valuable. I’d like you to reflect on this last semester and the potential personal growth that has occurred through the completion of ONE of these projects.
Option #1-Skills Diary:
Try each of the PC skills we’ve learned in a “real-life” situation. Write up your plan on how you will use it and what you think might happen. Then actually put that skill into practice noticing any change in behavior of the people you are “studying”. Write up what happened and why it was the same or different than you expected.
Attending Skills, Listening Skills, Questioning Skills, Assertive Skills, Confrontation Skills
Option #2- Scenario Re-enactment
Choose three typical conversations that happen in your peer group. Re-enact those conversations with friends, first as it really happened, then how it might have been different if you’d thought about using your new PC skills during it.
Option #3- Video Message to Future PC Students:
Like the Personal Power Point at the beginning of the semester, create a reflection power point/video. In it, discuss at least 3 things you’ve learned in Peer Counseling. Your audience is future PC students. Make this a video message to them about what to expect in class and the impact it has had on you. Be specific, use visuals, quotes, clips, humor.
Option #4- Movie Montage:
Put together a montage of clips from movies that clearly describe and show the elements of Peer Counseling. You choose the 5 most important and then give brief captions or explanations of each choice.
I’m willing to entertain other ideas if you have them! Enjoy!
One of my ESL students, a senior who had really been trying hard in class to better his English communication skills while getting a good grade, asked his friend to help him create this video- “High School Ghost’s Advice”