All right, Exhibition is over. We havenít gotten any technology yet, but we have learned so much. So whatís next? Where do we go from here? The advocacy meets after Exhibition Night were spent on reflecting and commenting on our work and presentations that night. But because all of us were busy presenting, we didnít have a chance to listen to the other groupís presentations. So during these classes, the groups took turns presenting to each other. Although I already knew about what the other groups were doing because I was able to look into their classes to post about it, many others didnít have that chance. This was really helpful to everyone because we were able to gain a lot of information that the others had researched.
But now that that is over, we had to make a decision. Do we want to continue with this project, or do we want to call it off and walk away with all the skills we have gained? We learned how to become committed to a shared goal and work together to move forward in accomplishing that goal. We gathered research and through that gained a larger sense of the world. We developed relationships with the School board, Apple, PACT, and other individuals. We learned how to write letters, and present and work together. Learning all this and growing as we did, we accomplished a large goal that we had. But two of our main goals were to gain technology and leave a footprint. Renaissance has never done anything like this before. And even if we did stop the project, it would be known that something like this could be organized. But if we do continue and achieve technology here, it would be known that Renaissance and any other school not only could organize a project like this, but can also achieve what they were advocating for. Even though we did face challenges and we had to actually work hard to get the project to go anywhere, the teachers and students decided that continuing this project was what we wanted to do.
So we have completed phase one and have decided to carry on this advocacy project. We just had to figure out how we will continue this. We need to continue to focus on our goals, continue researching and becoming more informed, and build up our network of allies. We need to build our case by using technology proposals, documenting the project, writing grants, and student multimedia projects. We decided to rearrange the groups because of the slight change in the project procedure. There are only three groups this time. One group is the Implementation of Technology group, which is much like the Innovation group was. They will focus on what we want, why we want it, and how we will use it. This group will focus on IPads and other technology that the Innovation group had researched. They are really important because without them, we have no base to our proposals. The next group is the Outreach and Public Relations group. This group will take up much of the responsibilities that the Advocacy group had except they will take it a step forward. They will research and apply for grants, build and maintain relationships, document and persuade. Without them, we wonít know how to get technology let alone have anyone to ask. The last group will provide the evidence that proves that we would use technology. The group, Digital Storytelling, will provide this evidence. Group members will pick their own topic to research and present. But in their presentations, they will include technology. This could include using a video camera to record a presentation on skateboarding and then using an apple computerís iMovie to create a movie presentation. This is important in really proving that we could and would use any gained technology.
Even though we are reorganizing the groups and what they will be doing, we are working off of the work we have done during the first phase of the project and we still are working towards the same goals. ďThrough a collective effort, our vision will become a reality.Ē
After Tuesday night, we all breathed a sigh of relief; Exhibition was a success! Like previous exhibitions, the six and seventh graders set up in the cafeteria to present an exhibition topic of their choice. The eighth graders, however, were split up into six classrooms. The technology and advocacy groupís projects each took up two different classrooms, while the comparing communities and innovation groups were each in one. We started setting up our boards about 30 minutes prior to the event. This gave us time to just set up and get comfortable, but also time to become anxious and nervous. But soon enough, people began flooding in.
Despite our nervous and anxious feelings, we all remembered to at the least appear relaxed and confident and to speak with loud clear voices. Once we started presenting, I think we actually did become relaxed and confident. We realized that there was no reason to feel tense because we had been researching our topics for a while and putting in so much effort. We knew our stuff and I really think that our listeners felt that way too. Everyone just looked so incredibly impressed and blown away by our performance. Mr. Henry, a retired high school teacher gave much great feedback. ďWhat I saw tonight is superior to work juniors and seniors presented to me. You should be proud of the work you have done. Now it is time for the Alum Rock Union School District to support your advocacy project and purchase the technology that is so necessary for equity.Ē he said. We also were so delighted to have Superintendent Jose Manzo attend our presentation. And not only did he just show up, but he really listened to our presentations and seemed so interested. This really has gotten our hopes up and we are really appreciative of him and everyone else who was in attendance Tuesday night.
It was so encouraging and motivating to see not just all of the work presented we have done so far, but especially the reaction we got from everyone there. Iíve said it before, but Iíll say it again: When others are impressed and appreciate all the effort and passion you have put into something, itís just an incredible feeling and is so encouraging. That night, we convinced so many people that we need and deserve better technology here at Renaissance. There are still many important people that we need to convince, but we know where to go from here. We are ready to get on the road again.
The Building Allies Group With Superintendent Manzo
Superintendent Manzo with the iPad Group
Time is the hardest competitor. Racing with time can be a risky thing because time never gets tired. Time never slows down. We all know that by February 8th, Exhibition Night, we will be all set to present, but most of us are still in a bit of a rush. Itís a rush to cut and paste last minute paragraphs and pictures. And itís a rush to figure out what we will say when presenting our boards. I believe that by putting together this presentation, we even have stronger feelings about needing new technology in our classrooms. The four computers in our classroom have served as the main source for researching and writing for most of us. The only problem is, they are about eight years old.
Several students spoke with me about how the slow technology that we have has slowed down their progress in putting their presentations together. Graciela M. said, ďA few days ago, I was extremely upset and frustrated because the school computer was not cooperating with me at all. Out of our four computers, only two would turn on. And when I thought my luck was changing, I was proven wrong. The computer took over 30 minutes to turn on.Ē Because none of the computers can print except our teacherís, another student was trying to open up pictures to email them to my teacherís computer so she could print them. She couldnít even open them at first because they were a different version of software. After she got that figured out, our teacherís computer was having issues with not having enough memory. Itís just so inefficient when you are trying to get work done to have computers like that. Another student told me that her partner was not at school one day, and she had left with all of the information. Michelle, the student I was talking to, knew that her partner sent her the information through email. She tried to get on a computer and open the files, but they wouldnít open. She was going to try on our teacherís computer, but it was frozen. Finally, she decided that her only option was to interrupt another classroom to use that teacherís computer.
We can all agree that this has slowed down our progress in completing the presentations. In some way though, it has been a motivation. It has reminded us why we are doing this whole project, why we need better technology. None of us, especially not the ones who have been victims of our old and limited technology, can wait for the day when we have succeeded in bringing efficient technology into the classrooms at Renaissance.
Posted by Emily S., Renaissance Student at 5:05 PM