This summer I’m in the advisor for 25 of the 200 students in our summer program. I facilitate a “homeroom” that has tutoring (w/ 3 tutors) and a series of workshops to help students build a college resource binder and portfolio. I’m trying to utilize something called “bspace”, which is Berkeley’s version of blackboard. I love bspace. I’ve set up a resources page that has financial aid links, college links, and “cool stuff” which has links to youth programs in the Bay Area. There’s a wiki feature so we can make a college-wiki (COOL!). Of course, there’s also a discussion feature. I’m having my students log onto our bspace site at least twice a week for the discussion/ posting homework. Turns out 5 of my 25 students don’t have internet or email. I’ve resolved the problem by bringing my laptop to homeroom so they can log on during homeroom. Students can also use the computers on campus or at our office. Access is one thing, literacy is another. It took one of my students 2 minutes to properly type in the URL, then another 5 minutes to type in his 1 sentence response to my discussion question. I actually left in the middle of his 5 minutes, returned to find another student typing for him! I made him delete his answer and retype it.
I felt kind of harsh making him start over. I’m stuck between wanting to push him to be comfortable w/ computers (he’s about to start 11th grade) but also being sympathetic and understanding of his situation (which is def reflective of his family’s income and his school). I’m really scared of alienating him and the other students by using bspace but feel that part of helping them prepare for college is having them use the internet. I don’t know. I promised him that he would be pro by the end of the 6 weeks and hope to meet that promise.
In general, my students are awesome (not only cuz they show me mad love). My group is interesting in that all of the students in my homeroom are either from Richmond High or De Anza High, two schools in the same district w/ API 1s. The De Anza kids are all in leadership, honors classes, and mostly east Asian. They’re very confident. The Richmond kids are extremely thoughtful, I see inklings of leaderships, are struggling academically and mostly Latino@ and south east Asian.
Although many of the RHS are going to struggle academically this summer, I have to say I am in love w/ my Richmond students. Here is why: Every Thursday afternoon students go to their “elective”. This year we have an iMovie elective, Youth Radio, slam poetry, Salsa Dancing, Community and Youth Activism, the history of R & B, Surrealism, etc. Cool classes right? Students who scored poorly on their diagnostic tests were recommended not to take an elective but go to Skills Lab instead (basically, 1-on-1 tutoring for a 2-hour block once a week). Our of 200 students, 30 are in skills lab. Out of the 30 students in skills lab, 8 are from Richmond (we have kids from about 20 schools). These kids were EXCITED and RELIEVED to find out they were going to do skills lab instead of “fun” electives. They were like, “I’m so glad. I know I need help with my writing/ math.” How could you not be in love w/ students like that?