As a high school teacher, it has taken me many years to make peace with the expression “real world.” It is because I have heard it used in ways that suggest the world in which I live as a high school teacher is not the real world. I hear students say, “When I graduate from high school and I’m in the real world…” I hear parents remark, “Well when my son/daughter goes out into the real world…” I even hear colleagues comment, “Well wait until our students get out into the real world…” So where do I live? In a faux world? I get what people are saying, but I don’t like the reference because not only does it devalue my work as an educator, it devalues my students’ work. It’s as if all the learning and preparation that goes into a teenager’s education does not count until he/she graduates. And then we often hear that this generation of students was not ready for the “real world.”
So what if we did value our students’ work and helped them apply it in the here and now? GID does just that–it values students’ work, their learning process, and their thoughts and feelings about their work.
Recently, our library educator Anita Cellucci, two of my students, and I went into the Boston State House for Library Legislative Day. The day is all about promoting the importantce of public libraries and school libraries in our communities. Anita had the brilliant idea to actually bring in two of our students to present their Psychology in Literature GID projects in connection with a LSTA grant that Anita was awarded this year. The grant focuses on promoting a stigma free attitude toward mental health in schools.
The experience was a “real world” opportunity for our students to take the valuable research they had gathered through GID in their senior English seminar Psychology and Literature and showcase it to governement officials in Boston. Because we chose to have students create a google slide presentation or a prezi, we were able to set up the laptops at our booth. Our students could then conduct a bunch of mini-presentations for the officials as they walked by. The students felt so empowered that their research was valued beyond their teachers and classrooms to a state wide level. One state representative stopped and asked our students a long list of questions about mental health and teenagers. The representative was so excited to have the opportunity to run by some of her mental health initiatives to teenagers. Our students shared honestly and openly about their experiences as millenial teenagers in high school today.
The more we value our students’ work by providing them with “real world” opportunites and experiences within schools, the better prepared socially, academically, and emotionally they will be when they graduate. For their “real world” will continue rather than begin.
Please find below links to four examples of presentations that students created using google slide presentation or prezi with screen castify for the audio recording.
By: Kathleen Stoker
Westborough High School English/Journalism teacher