This past summer we ran a fabulous student tech leader bootcamp for Grace Wilday Jr. High School (See post: GenYES students assist in laptop rollout in New Jersey). Grace Widay is in Roselle, New Jersey, and a new program called TALENT21 will start up this year funded by federal stimulus dollars (ARRA EETT). This year, every sixth grader will get a laptop, plus other classroom technology and lots of professional development.
The GenYES student tech leaders at Grace Wilday are a big part of this project. They are learning the new technology and also how to assist teachers and other students. These student tech leaders mean more support and more student ownership as everyone at Grace Wilday takes a big step forward into the 21st century.
Check out this video! (Click here if YouTube is blocked or you do not see the embedded video below)
The student who says the teachers will “TAP” the student tech team for help is talking about the GenYES online tool called the Technology Assistance Project (TAP) system. This is a Web 2.0 tool that schools use to track projects from start to finish. It also tracks help requests from teachers and offers blogs and wikis to make sure that all projects are documented and that all teachers are satisfied with the results.
Most laptop programs talk about students as "key stakeholders" in the process, but rarely does it mean something like this. This is concrete action that creates new resources and empowers students to be part of the solution, not just passive recipients of education.
Just as laptops literally puts "power" in student hands, making them responsible for part of the project creates empowered digital citizens who know that their work matters and their voice is valued.