Project with the Digital Youth Network

The following is an article I submitted to the publicity department at Pepperdine University. It might be altered prior to the publication, but I thought I’d share.

Student Transformation through Social Media – How iRemix Changed My Seniors

Kip Glazer, EDLT Cadre 18

In October of 2012, Tracy Edwards from Cadre 15 asked, “Any writers or writing teachers looking for PT work?” on the All Cadre EDLT Facebook page. This simple question eventually lead to  our project of connecting her 6th grade students in Chicago and my 12th grade students in Bakersfield, California, demonstrating the power of social media.

This idea to connect students across the country came from a keynote speech delivered by Dr. Sheridan Blau at the 2010 California Association of Teachers of English conference. Blau argued for an instructional practice that allowed the students to become their own teachers.  Since then, I have been looking for a way to make this a reality when Tracy introduced me to the iRemix website.

By the time I connected with Tracy, I had already used Google Docs in my paperless classroom and established the peer-editing practices among my students.  However, iRemix offered me the perfect solution to take my instructional strategies to the next level.

Before they were incorporated into the iRemix website, my students wrote resumes and cover letters to be reviewed by the research team at DePaul University.  They also created introduction videos to be shared with the 6th graders.  When they finally gained access to the iRemix website in January of 2013, each of my students was assigned a minimum of 5 Chicago students.

To facilitate the writing-mentoring practice, my classes go to the computer lab once a week.  Here my students read, comment on, and edit the writing as well as multi-media produced by their assigned mentees.  They are also asked to reflect on their interactions and make suggestions to improve the iRemix website.

The most obvious benefit from this project is that my students are becoming much more cognizant of their own writing errors.  They have expressed the desire to gain more grammar knowledge, which in turn has forced me to expand my instructional repertoire.  They are also becoming extremely savvy in leveraging technology to express themselves.  The 12th graders have even created podcasts and videos as forms of communication in addition to providing writing feedback.

More importantly, I am witnessing my students becoming leaders with social consciousness.  Reading so many tragic stories of gun violence and murder written by the 6th graders, my students are actively seeking out ways to make a real difference in their mentees lives.  They are becoming empowered because they were given some responsibility.  And that’s the best part about this project.  We are teaching our young people that they are capable of making a difference and giving them the tools to do so in a safe and guided environment.

Since the launch of this project, we have been fortunate to be featured on the KQED Mind/Shift blog along with a couple of local media outlets.  I know that this wouldn’t have been possible without the Pepperdine community that has brought Tracy and me together.  I look forward to working with everyone on the iRemix team to gain more knowledge.

For more information, please contact Kip Glazer at kip.glazer@pepperdine.edu.

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