Wednesday, October 14, 2009

DePaul Class Learns about Chicago... with T/MC help

In many articles on this blog I've focused on the role of universities, who could tap the talent of students, faculty and alumni, to help build support for volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs operating in different Chicago neighborhoods.

With President Obama challenging the Secretary of Education, and the Attorney General to come up with an innovative plan to prevent neighborhood violence, and improve schools, and reduce high school drop out rates, and get more kids ready for 21st century jobs, this type of strategic engagement by universities is critically important.

Thus, I'm really happy to introduce you to the Exploring Chicago blog hosted by Janet Hickey, a faculty member at DePaul University.

In her introduction Janet writes...

"This quarter, our Explore Chicago: Growing Up in Chicago class will be researching, analyzing and projecting the need for Tutoring/Mentoring services in various areas of the city. We are working closely with Cabrini Connections, a tutoring/mentoring program that serves the children who live in Cabrini Green, a Chicago Housing Authority complex located near the corner of Halsted St. and Chicago Ave. The students will also be writing narratives about their work in the hopes of sharing information about tutoring/mentoring programs in Chicago with other interested people. Watch for the students’ weekly posts and follow the progress of their research."

Her team of students has divided into six groups,

1) Near North Side
2) North West Side Stories
3) Wild Wild Southwest (Chicago's West Side)
4) Southwest Chicago Neighborhoods
5) Far South Side
6) The Neighborhoods of South Shore

The class assignment looks like this:

Assignment: We will divide the class into teams and each team will focus on a different area of the city. Your assignment will have 4 major components:

1. Research: You will read articles about poverty and its impact on learning. Next, you will begin to focus on your assigned area, gathering demographic information and identifying resources, especially tutoring-mentoring programs, in that area. You will visit those program’s websites in order to get to know them. Perhaps you may visit those programs in person. Then you will compare your team’s statistics with those gathered by other teams.

2. Writing: You will chronicle your research by writing weekly articles about the T/M programs: program descriptions, examples of successful collaborations, how people can help, etc. The teams may develop their own Wikis and use NING for their narratives.

3. Mapping: You will learn the rhetorical effect of maps by creating maps that identify where T/M programs are available in your area. You will also create a matrix to help differentiate programs.

4. Projecting: Based on your analysis of your research, you will discuss how to influence public policy regarding the effects of poverty on education.

5. Leadership and Service: You will be asked to communicate what you are learning through networks and channels that are available to you, resulting in more people from the DePaul community, and your own network, learning from the information you are collecting and sharing.

6. Some members of the team will present the group's findings at the November 19 and 20 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference.

Read the blogs each week, and you can learn from these first year students more about Chicago than you might have known before. You can also learn about poverty in different parts of the city, and about the different tutor/mentor programs operating in these neighborhoods.

Imagine if this were a project at every university in Chicago, and every other major city in the country? Imagine if a team from the business school were using this, and their own talent, to raise money for these programs, such as we suggest in this Business School Connection wiki.

These types of innovations can "re-purpose" the talent and time of students to become leaders and intermediaries, who connect the larger university community, its alumni, and its fans, to become volunteers, donors, partners, etc. at tutor/mentor programs throughout every city in America.

Thank you Janet for launching this project.

1 comment:

Bradley said...

This is great! I just subscribed to all of the blogs.