Don't Miss Out!

How would you like to be able to have your math or science class lessons available online for you to access if you were absent, sick, pregnant, or for review purposes? My project did just that while utilizing the internet!

I have mentored “at risk” kids at Lighthouse Community Center for several years. Lighthouse is located in one of  Louisville’s poorest neighborhoods. The types of children we serve range from kindergarten to eighth grade receiving Free And Reduced Lunch, who live in single-parent homes or in foster care. When working with these students, I became upset when hearing them speak about their future. Most don't think it is important to graduate high school because they can always, in their words, “walk in and get their GED.”  More recently, when an acquaintance of mine became pregnant, she fell so far behind that she had to quit school. Dropping out is a major problem with what could be a simple solution.

What if, by engaging teachers—those proven to teach well and in multiple learning styles— had videos uploaded that were tagged by subject and content so that it was accessible to students?  Students could watch the lesson being taught at a time convenient to them, either at home or at a center like Lighthouse. This would have made it much easier for my pregnant friend to stay abreast of what was being taught while she was out and easier for Lighthouse students and tutors to evaluate the classroom teacher’s lessons. I also felt this could be a good study tool for all students, a way to review lessons before tests, or a chance to relearn topics if there was something that the student simply didn’t grasp during their class. For added help, I wanted to have teachers online during different specified times, offering homework assistance anonomously so that students aren't embarrassed by their questions as often happens during the school day. 

My idea was to take the classes with the highest fail rates, in our case Algebra I and Algebra II, and put them in a place where students feel comfortable yet is accessible from almost anywhere—the internet. A fellow classmate, Logan Lloyd, and I set up video cameras in two teachers’ classrooms and taped their lessons. Later that night, the lessons would be edited and uploaded onto a YouTube channel. The channel was linked to the students’ school internet profile so the students could easily locate the lessons they chose to watch.

By putting the videos online, the students were able to watch anytime they wanted, helping them better understand the material, study for tests, catch up on work if they missed school, or even give students a different point of view on the material if they had a different teacher. I even was able to work it out with our principal to require students who were attending “In School Suspension” to watch their classes via internet. Instead of just sitting there when being suspended, students were expected to watch the videos. Through tracking the usage of the channels and student surveys, we concluded that the project was a huge success. Overwhelmingly, the students asked for more classes available online, such as Chemistry and Physics.

Sometimes, even the simplest idea can make a difference. The “at-risk” students that I work with WANT to be successful. They just don’t have a clear picture on HOW to be successful. With online access of classes in elementary school and middle school, these kids, their tutors, and their families can work together to understand what is being taught and how it is being taught at school. When a student performs better at school, their behavior is better and their success rate is higher. Most importantly though, the chance of them dropping out of high school is lowered!