One of the biggest challenges for educators is finding a way to bridge the digital divide between the students that have access to technology at home and the students that don’t. But two teachers at Lucas Middle School in Durham, North Carolina, are working to provide more opportunities to students in need through a program called Project Z.
Style: Light Panes
Song: “Bright Eyes” (Instrumental) by Nard Berings
Project Z was founded by Team Laura, which includes school technology facilitator Laura Fogle and middle school teacher and media coordinator Laura Will. They shared, “The program was inspired by and named for a student who was trying to turn around his school performance, but was struggling to keep up with his assignments because he didn’t have internet or a computer at home.”
Closing the homework gap
To help Z and students like him, Team Laura applied for and got education grants, which provided computers and WiFi hotspots for 20 students at their school. “Students have to attend the after-school program at least two days per week and complete Project Z assignments in addition to maintaining passing grades in at least five of their six classes.” The students get support from educators involved in Project Z, who help them improve their math and digital literacy skills.
Students with limited access to technology are usually assigned simple drill and practices excises. “However, open-ended tasks where students are creating content boost their both their technical and content knowledge more effectively. We strive to keep our Project Z assignments creative and engaging.” For example, students in Project Z must put together Animoto videos to explain math vocabulary terms — an assignment that encourages their creativity and lets them apply their knowledge in a meaningful way.
Style: Through the Blossoms
Song: “Get Up” by Amy Powers
This year, Project Z has plans to expand the number of students in the program, and reach other schools in the Durham Public Schools district. But they’re already helping this year’s participants bring up their grades and close the homework gap.