We've Only Just Begun
“Psychologist’s studies have shown that when faced with an important need or emergency, humans will look to each other and if they are doing nothing, they will also. However, if one person in the group breaks from the peer pressure and starts to organize for a cause, others will follow because humans love to work for a cause but are often held back by typical ‘do nothing’ behavior. Renaissance students will be that ‘ONE’” This comment by Retired teacher Mr. John Henry is truly an inspirational one.
Too long has this generation been okay with letting their school technology be so outdated. The way students are educated has changed so much since the start of public schools, and that’s why schools are as successful as they are now; they change. Schools change with the rest of our society in order to provide a better education. Why then, has available technology not been incorporated into our classrooms when the research and statistics have proven that technology can be so beneficial to education? We are living in the 21st century, the ‘Age of Technology’.
This year, we realized that our education wasn’t going to change on its own… and more importantly that it needed to change. Now, about eight months later, we find ourselves leaving the school, but not without leaving something behind. We are not leaving behind a school with classrooms filled with iPads or iMacs, no, but a legacy. We are leaving a path for not just Renaissance, but other schools to follow.
My classmate Tony Solis said this, “We can never settle for something less than what we can achieve.” This year, we have accomplished so much because we have worked so hard at this project. We have left a path that future generations will follow because we know that so much more can come out of this project and others like it. But now it is up to future generations to also break away from the ‘typical do nothing behavior’ and continue advocating.
“The lessons learned in this endeavor will serve these young people throughout their lives. May they always display the qualities of courageous leadership and courageous followership.”
“What you learned as Renaissance students and from the work you did on the advocacy project will be with you for life. I have very high expectations for you and look forward to finding out what you are doing in the future. Continue your relentless ways.”
These two quotes, the first by author Ira Chaleff and the second by Dr. Marty Krovetz, remind us that although this advocacy project will be handed down to the incoming eighth graders, our jobs as advocates are not over… In fact they never will be.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Posted by Emily S. at 8:00 PM
Looking Back to Look Forward
The last week of school is the start of the end to many things for us. It's the start of our last week of eighth grade. It's the start of our last week of middle school. For some of us, it's the start of the last week we may ever see each other. It's the start of our last week with the teachers here at Renaissance. And it's the start of our last week we have at Renaissance. Mixed feelings and emotions have set a mood over the eighth grade. There definitely is a feeling of uncertainty, but there is also a feeling of excitement. Where will our high school years take us? Our experiences this year are all we have to prepare us for what comes next. I truly believe that we all feel like the experiences we had with this advocacy project have helped us prepare for what comes next whatever that may be. In October, at the very begining of our project, we all had many things to say. Now, at the very end, we find ourselves filled with many more.
Posted by Emily S. at 12:00 PM
Education: Before and After iPads
Education: Before and After iPads
This silent film is a humorous comparison between a classroom with and without iPads. The movie explains who we are and shows how technology will help improve our education.
By: Ruby M., Luvia S., Emily S., Grecia M., Jasmine M., and Josh S.
Posted by Sanee Ibrahim at 3:00 AM
Extra! Extra! Read All About It!
Yep, if you haven’t heard, our school has made the paper! The article titled Activist South Bay Students Secure Computers for School, Save Teachers by Sharon Noguchi includes an overview of our project and some of our own student and teacher’s voices. It’s such a great step for us and the ultimate way to inform others about our project. Please check it out if you have not already!
Posted by Emily S. at 8:00 PM
School Wide Support
As you know, this is an eighth grade project, but that does not mean that the rest of the school does not get involved or show their support. In fact, the importance of having the support that we get from the students and teachers here is great. Our school regardless of grade level has been informed of our project and has gotten involved.
Many of the seventh and sixth graders continuously read this blog and many have posted such wonderful and motivating comments. Sixth grader Julia G. commented saying, “Wow. This is a lot of work that the eighth grade is doing. I know you can show that even the smallest voice can make a big difference. Thank you for all you are doing. Let Renaissance know if we can help! Again, thank you for standing up. Great job with the fundraising.” Her comments along with many others’ are very supportive and helpful.
The sixth graders have been helpful in other ways also. Ms. Westman, a sixth grade Language Arts teacher here, was granted one set of iPads for her classroom. Many of us have never held an iPad before, but Ms. Westman has let us interact with them and it has been a great experience seeing as iPads are what we are advocating for. I was also able to talk to her and a few of her students about them. The students agreed that they were really starting to enjoy language arts class since using the iPads. They said that they believed our project is really important because the rest of the school would also benefit from using iPads.
Ms. Westman also had some great input about our project and the iPads. She expressed how amazed she has been and continues to be with us and our progress. She said that at first she expected that there would be a small group of kids really focused and passionate kids while the others may not be so interested. After thinking about that, I realize that that is what sometimes happens with new ideas and projects; some kids are interested, some aren’t. But she is right, it’s not just a small group of students, it’s the whole eighth grade that is passionate and working hard. After asking about the iPads, she explained how they have only used them a couple times now, but she has already noticed some changes. She enjoys that she can have a variety of lessons on the iPads to better suit the wide variety of kids’ abilities because she is able to personalize the lesson plans. However, she mentioned how it is difficult at first to change the way she is so accustomed to teaching. She feels like there is so much out there with the iPads and education, and it may be forcing her out of her comfort zone. Despite this adjustment, she is excited about all of the possibilities that have been opened for her teaching and her students’ learning. “Renaissance is a school of social justice… true social justice education is not just teaching what it is, but creating activists who will change the world,” she said. “I’m glad after seven years that we’ve grown enough to do something like this. This is more important than testing, homework…anything.”
Posted by Emily S. at 7:00 PM
Around the Corner
Save the Date
June 2, 2011
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
We look forward to presenting all the we have learned and achieved. We would truly appreciate your support in hope you will be attending our final exhibition. Thank you!
Posted by Luvia S. at 7:00 PM
Read All About It
The newsletter group is working hard, despite all the other school work and advocacy work they have to do, to keep our community updated by publishing the weekly newsletter. Be sure to check it out under the "newsletter lab". Enjoy
Also, keep a look out for us in the Mercury News!!! A news reporter and photographer visited us this week, and the article will be running soon.
Posted by Sanee Ibrahim at 10:00 AM
Not Slowing Down
With the school year winding down, our exhibition night continues to approach closer and closer. June 2nd. That’s exactly two weeks away. Our video presentations are expected to be done by next Tuesday, so you probably can guess that it’s another race with time. A couple months ago when we were preparing for our last exhibition, we had a few major issues that presented a challenge for us. One was technology. To efficiently create presentations, computers were needed. It was amusing that we were trying to present the case that we needed more efficient technology when we were hardly able to create those presentations due to lack of technology. On the lucky days that the computers would turn on before the period was over, we only had three. We only had one cart of dell laptops that the other groups were mostly using. Most of them were agonizingly slow and unreliable anyways. This aroused another problem for us: time. We found ourselves having to take turns to use the computers and laptops. The time it took to do simple tasks on those computers was unnecessary. It was a challenge, but we had become quite accustomed to those by then.
As we prepare for June second, our second exhibition, we face those same problems. All three advocacy groups are doing presentations where technology is needed. The Digital Storytelling group is working on video or PowerPoint presentations about their passions. Their presentations are to show how technology could be used in creating videos and other presentations. The Implementation of Technology group is doing a ton of different things for exhibition. They are creating videos and demonstrations on how technology would be used, creating examples of homework and project rubrics with iPads and other technology, and creating presentations on what technology we currently have and why it’s unacceptable to have such low quality technology in Silicon Valley during the 21st century. And then there is our group, the Outreach and Public Relations group. We are creating video presentations and movies demonstrating different aspects of our project; why we are doing it, why we need technology, and what our project is.
With our CST’s over, we are more focused than ever on our project and getting our presentations done to ensure that exhibition will be another success. With about $900 raised for our Donors Choose Proposal, a Digital Wish List account being started, a scheduled meeting with a news reporter from the Mercury News, and continuing to prepare ourselves for June 10, there’s definitely a lot going on.
Posted by Emily S. at 8:00 AM
Leaving a Legacy: Student Video
Graciela M. wrote and delivered a speech at our district's annual Cesar Chavez March. Using the audio of the speech, Emily S. produced this amazingly inspirational video which provides an overview of our student advocacy project. Enjoy!
Posted by Emily S. at 7:00 PM
We are now at a point in our advocacy project where our group is really pushing forward in connecting with foundations and writing grants. We have less than two months left of this school year, so we really are pushing forward. A few weeks ago, Kim Meza, the president of the Alum Rock Education Foundation came to our class to speak and give advise to us about presenting to the Alum Rock Education Foundation. The following week, on April 20th , a group of students presented to the Alum Rock Education Foundation, and Mrs. Meza’s advice was of the most help.
Mrs. Kim Meza is very involved at our school and especially our advocacy project. She attended the Renaissance Community Meeting where we presented to our community members. When she came to our class, she was able to provide us with some helpful feedback on our presentation. Mrs. Meza stressed how impressed she was on how well organized we were. She reminded us that when we present to the Alum Rock Education Foundation, we need to be very clear about our goal and what we want them to do for us. She explained to us what we need that the Foundation could possibly offer us. This included a partnership, fiscal agent, as well as contacts, funding support, and grant writing help. She herself has helped our project immensely by spreading the word and referencing this blog to her associates. Her support from the beginning has been absolutely wonderful and her advice gave us confidence about our future presentations.
Our opportunity to present to the Alum Rock Education Foundation came during our spring break, so it was obvious that not everyone would be able to attend. In fact, many of us including our teacher, Ms. Ibrahim, were on a school trip to Washington DC where we were able to connect with Mr. Ira Chaleff (author of The Courageous Follower). But those who were available, were happy to give up a day of their vacation to present to the Foundation. They presented a PowerPoint similar to the one presented at the Community Meeting. They explained our project, what have we done, what are we doing, why we need technology, and what technology we need. But for the most part, they stressed how important it is to us that the foundation help by donating one iPad and contributing to our Donors Choose.
“I really enjoyed their intent on asking challenging questions after our presentation. They tried to challenge our thinking, which shows that they were really interested and focused on what we were presenting to them,” said Graciela M., a student who attended. We have yet to receive any response from the foundation, but from what I hear (I was not able to be there) the members seemed really impressed and engaged in our project.
Posted by Emily S. at 1:00 PM