At Rose High School, located in eastern North Carolina and populated by students on extreme ends of the socioeconomic spectrum, we have students who are passionate and active about everything from establishing a witty presence on social media to saving orphans in Darfur, but these are often extracurricular activities that don't show up in the actual classroom. Students might spend hours posting selfies on Facebook or hours planning a benefit concert, but when they feel like they have to put on their academic persona, they tend to forget those parts of themselves.
I wanted students to be able to funnel their interests into a more authentic academic experience so that they could learn about what they want to learn about and become empowered as researchers, both casually and formally. To do that, I needed to remix their idea of what research is, transform it from something boring and arbitrary into something rich and useful. When I don't know something, I look it up. I, like most of my students, have a smartphone that puts a world of information at my fingertips, and most of the time, I remember to use it. If I see a comic on The Oatmeal about mantis shrimp, and I want to know if such a creature actually exists, I will look it up on the selfsame iPhone on which I viewed the comic. I feel empowered to research any topic I want, no matter how trivial or how important. My students typically don't feel that sense of empowerment as researchers, as knowledge gatherers.
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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc