Summer digital literacy program...week one

Even though it was a short week, I was exhausted by the time Thursday came around. Tuesday, May 31st marked day one of summer camp here at UNCC, the after-school center I've been working at for the past 21 some months. My final project in Urbana will be rolling out a digital literacy summer program for 50 plus K-8th graders. This program is a culmination of all the hard work, relationship building, and community engagement I've done at the center. I just don't want to teach digital literacy, I want to teach it in a way that really targets the kids I'm working with. A catered-just-for-them program. Essentially, wrapping basic digital literacy skills around with technology and projects that respects and appreciates all the wonderful students I've gotten to know. 

A little daunting, right?

This project is definitely trial and error. I have a rough framework I'm pretty confident in but each day and week will continue to shape and change the program. Week one was definitely a big testing week, where I tried to gauge where everyone was starting at and where we might be able to go in the next eight weeks. At the same time, I had a project in mind for the first week, a filler to help me figure a few things out.

A normal week will look like this: three, 45 minute sessions in the morning focused on educational technology, digital literacy, and overall technology exposure. We meet four days in a room, Monday-Thursday (Friday is always a free day). In true instruction fashion, I have a few outcomes...

  • UNCC students will be exposed to a wide variety of digital literacy and digital technology in order to broaden their sense of choice of what they can do with technology.
  • UNCC students will come up with a project that is meaningful to them in order to work on their digital literacy skills in a meaningful way.
  • UNCC students will increase their confidence in using computers in order to create a sustainable computer lab during the summer and into the school year.

Our groups are divided by age range with a K-2nd grade, 3-5th grade, and middle schoolers. My plan is for each week to have a theme and some overarching objectives. Then based on age range and ability to use computers, the theme will be adapted for the kids. At the end of the week, I'll give the kids a "challenge," basically a way to check in and see if they remembered anything from earlier in the week.

Our first week was more of an introduction. I introduced a few rules (no Roblox in the morning...sorry small children!) and talked about how we were going to do our best to have lots of fun. We began a nametag project in Microsoft Word. The project had a couple of objectives -- to help me get to know everyone's names (since not all the kids that come during the school year come for the summer) and also to have the kids make a little nametag with their Roblox username and password (as I continue to think about sustainability and when I have to leave the center). Here are the sample ones I introduced to them.

At the end of the week we had some pretty cool nametags. The kids learned about creating shapes in Word and adding text boxes. Some concepts like arranging images and formatting text missed the mark a little bit. Slow but steady wins the race, right?

This first week was exhausting. I'm on a sharp learning curve. For example, K-2 aren't quite ready to be independent while the 3-5 are almost there but sometimes miss the mark. I got a lot of kickback from the middle schoolers (complete with lots of guffaws and eye rolling). Some of it is first week jitters, while other parts are just me better understanding how to work with these kids.

I'll be tracking the program's progress on this blog/website, along with a more kid-friendly perspective on the website I created for the center for the summer: UNCC Computer Lab. The "Summer 2016" has the blog section, where daily posts go up about what we are working on that day. The "Program" section has recaps on the week, complete with specific week learning outcomes, roadblocks, and activities completed. Any feedback on this is always appreciated!

Well, back to planning and implementing week two! Wish me luck!