Monday, March 8, 2010

Last Day at John O'Connell

It all went by so fast. And because of that, I didn't notice the bonds forming between the CCA tutors and O'Connell students. Perhaps it's because we were all so immersed in the project, in making sure the students had the essays completed in time, that we didn't realize how comfortable the tutors and students were becoming with each other. That final class, when the CCA tutors helped the high school students write their biographies, allowed that opportunity. This last class period felt less pressurized than the previous ones, because the essays had already been submitted. On this day, the CCA tutors helped with biographies and also coaxed the students into taking their pictures for the book. There was more leisure time for chit chat and long goodbyes. Near the end of the class session, the 826 staff took class pictures of both the students and tutors. It was a beautiful moment in the light-filled atrium. The CCA students had worked so hard on this project and I'm very proud of them.
But our semester isn't over. Now is the time we get to turn look at all their work and time, and see what it all means. What did they learn from working week to week with the O'Connell students? What did this show them about urban education in San Francisco? How can they, as artists, designers and writers, contribute their talents and skills to the community?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mentoring at John O'Connell HS

The class is made up of both undergrad and grad students from a range of majors and interests. What brings them all together is their interest in serving the community through this exciting book project, organized by 826 Valencia.
The students have completed their third week of mentoring at John O'Connell HS and I'm very impressed of their progress. They were thrown into the mentorship of the book project from the beginning, and they all have risen to the challenges of encouraging and helping the HS students with their personal essays. It helps everyone to realize that this will be a beautiful finished project available at bookstores nationwide and online.
After the first mentoring session, the CCA students had the opportunity to meet as a class to reflect about their first week experiences. Students were able to share their anxieties and concerns, while also sharing best-practice methods in tutoring. Many were interested in learning about strategies of inspiring students who do not consider their stories or writing seriously--because they've often never been told they were worthwhile.
We also reviewed the Eight Studio Habits of Mind, which we will come to again during the Pedagogy section of the course.
I will try to post pictures soon of the high school mentoring.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Understanding Goals of the Course


1. How does my reading and writing inform my practice as a writer and educator?
2. How can writers use their craft to understand and voice the concerns of the community?
3. How can I convey these ideas and methodologies to young readers and writers in a sensitive, constructive manner?
4. How can the expression of our stories empower our selves and our communities?


1. What are the best practice methods to encourage students to share and write their personal stories?
2. How can I build confidence and encouragement, while also helping students with their writing skills?
3. How can we critique and edit these essays to compile a final manuscript that celebrates these students’ personal triumphs?


1. How can we work collaboratively, while also maintaining our individual voices and perspectives?
2. How can we celebrate the diverse perspectives to create a final book project that is both reflective and inclusive of our community?
3. How do social and cultural histories impact public education?


1. How can my personal story encourage these students to share and write their own?
2. How can storytelling create and empower ourselves as a community? Why are these stories worth telling?
3. How can we build upon the empowerment and confidence that comes from writing about personal experience, and use it to better the community?