Our presenter for this session was Terra Smith, from Georgia, who teaches in a Title 1 high school. She started by explaining to us exactly what generational poverty is. Basically, generational poverty is poverty that extends beyond the current generation and usually includes a lack of college experience within a family and a sense that education isn’t extremely important.
Terra described her experience teaching an LDC module on satire. She learned most of her lessons the hard way, apparently, and began to realize that technology was key, especially since most of her students – despite their generational poverty – had access to smart phones. One tool her kids found particularly engaging for writing and communicating was Voki. Another tech tool she used was Write to Learn, which allows students to get immediate feedback on their writing. This tool also works as a non-biased way to score conventions and sentence construction.
Then she explained how pressed for time she and the rest of us are and how ridiculous it seemed for her to add LDC on top of a crammed schedule. However, she came to see implementing LDC as essentially “reorganizing” what she already had. She already taught a unit on satire, for example, and had unit and lesson plans on hand. Using the LDC template was simply a way to organize it and be assured that it was focused on CCSS.
Don’t get me – or her – wrong; she did more than just reorganize a bunch of stuff she already had and repackage it as an LDC unit. By focusing on the continuity and central task, and producing a hard-copy packet that each student could hold and own, Terra was taking it up a notch; and she had the test scores to show that it was effective. The biggest difference was in the quality of her students’ writing.
Terra used ample group work for this and other LDC modules. She described how she constructed her groups and even shared the fact that groups could “vote someone out” of a group if they failed to hold down their share of the work.
She shared several presentations by her students, including a sketch by some of her kids who were interviewing each other about a new law that aimed to solve financial problems by killing old people. (remember, the unit was on satire!) It was hysterical, if a little dark.
Terra also described data that suggested her kids were more engaged and learned more due to this LDC unit.
Overall, this presentation was animated and fun. It was strong on visuals and engagement, but short on specifics. I wanted to know exactly what it was that made LDC a way to improve learning for chronically poor populations.