From Expression to Impact: Youth Civic Engagement Enacted

July 23, 2013
10:00 am - 11:00 am PST
By Connected Learning Alliance

How are educators fostering civic engagement in Connected Learning environments? How are principles of youth organizing adapting to the new literacies of connected learning?

Key Questions and Comments:

  • (06:11) So, three framing questions as we move forward:
    • 1. What are we already doing? (I want to recognize the powerful strategies and practices that are already happening in classrooms.)
    • 2. How is the context of what we are doing in classrooms changing?
    • 3. What are we doing–as a field, and as a community–to support educators?
  • (09:35) Blogging…is one of the fundamental routines and definitely a medium by which my students feel that they have an instant audience…it is truly a discussion now…they actually have to engage in dialogue online.
  • (11:25) It’s been really liberating for the classroom, and it makes the teacher feel that they are creating changes…[the kids] just have to be shown how they can use something as simple as their phones as this powerful weapon for change.
  • (15:08) The online conversations, the blogging, the responses, the talking about process online, and really exposing yourself to the listener/the audience has really been a way for the to hone the topics that they choose.
  • (21:43) At the end of [summer school], we told students that we wanted to continue working with them in a very public way. We’re having an event in a few weeks called Making Equity which is going to combine a pop-up makerspace with some sessions so we can talk about principles of making in schools, homes, and communities. We’re actually enlisting some kids to be part of the break-out groups as well as manning some of the tables to share their work.
  • (23:45) It’s not about “Did I solve human trafficking?”, but “How do I discover my civic interests?” and “How did this one action I did fit into my longer concern about a better world?”
  • (24:10) When is writing a civic act? Connecting back to Cindy, when is writing, making? And when is making, writing? I do want to start thinking about that power of writing…
  • (26:18) So the students [in the UCLA Council of Youth Research] have had the opportunity to interview thousands of youth from across California about questions that they’ve developed, ranging from the quality of the food in their schools to teacher layoffs…they’ve really had a chance to change policies and have an impact on the city at large.
  • (28:09) One of the things students learn how to do with their writing and their speech is they learn how to “code switch” according to who they’re talking to, in order to best express their message…to persuade different audiences to take some sort of civic action with them.
  • (29:30) What happens to remediation in the era of Common Core? What happens to remediation in the cultural shifts that we’re seeing today?
  • (31:01) In the end, what gets assessed is what tends to get taught. And the Common Core assessments that are coming down the pike don’t necessarily match up with the critical social action piece that a lot of us are talking about.
  • (37:16) Seeing kids as capable of using the digital literacies that are available in the other kinds of meaning/making tools in order to make something new that they couldn’t make with a print-based text…I don’t think that’s an immediately evident mandate that’s in the Common Core documents.
  • (39:33) At the high school level, many students have this high priority on their phones and when you can engage that resource (if your student has it), it definitely helps out when it comes to “We only have 15 working computers in a lab.”
  • (42:06) In terms of [taking risks] in the classroom, I think we have a mandate–as educators–to make sure that we’re allowing students this kind of access.
  • (43:14) How do we take the work of creative and innovative and risk-taking teachers…and build support for a broader group of teachers to take on this work. Because there are always some people are gonna be ready to take on that risk, or who are pushing themselves…
  • (47:28) What counts as “impact”? What is the “voice” in there? And how do we get there? What are some of the tensions when we think about impact in these various settings?
  • (51:02) If we want to spend the time as educators doing this work and helping other educators…then our students have to start tackling some of this type of work that takes us so much of our time (e.g. helping students get external conversations/dialogue started)…and they can. The ways that they’re powerful now is amazing.
  • (53:10) How do we get students to both think about how their digital voices are connecting with others? How has it become collective and collaborative? And to be strategic: how do you get other people to pick it up?
  • (56:15) There’s a lot of concern that these kinds of amazing projects that we’re doing aren’t necessarily getting tested. So much of new teachers’ concerns is to adapt whatever they’re doing to the test that’s coming…That can become an issue that we rally around…we can include students in this struggle…

From this Series:

View the Conversation
During the broadcast, the conversation also took place on Twitter using the hashtag #connectedlearning.

Guests for this webinar included:

  • Ellen Middaugh is the Associate Director of the Civic Engagement Research Group at Mills College, and part of the Youth & Participatory Politics (YPP) Research Network at the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. Her research focuses on the influence of variations in social context (online and off) on youth civic and political development.
  • Jo Paraiso is a high school English teacher in the Oakland Unified School District in California.
  • Nicole Mirra is a high school English teacher at Animo Watts College Preparatory Academy in Los Angeles, CA, and the coordinator of the UCLA Council of Youth Research.
  • Cindy O’Donnell-Allen is a professor in the English Department at Colorado State University (CSU), where she directs the CSU Writing Project.
  • Antero Garcia (moderator/host) is an Asst. Professor in the English Dept at CSU and part of the CSU Writing Project.

Resources for this webinar:

Photos/ The Alliance for Young Artists and Writers

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