Charles Skidmore at Citizen Schools was one of the first adopters of goIT once it pivoted from TCS to teacher-led facilitation. As a longtime believer of the program, Charlie talks about his experience with goIT in a virtual environment, and the impact the program continues to have on students.
“What did you learn?” I asked Angel S., a 6th-grade student in the Citizen Schools Extended Learning Time (ELT) program at Greenleaf Middle School in Oakland, California, after completing the goIT curriculum.
“I learned that an app and a good idea can change things,” he replied, not knowing how happy he had made me with those words. Our vision at Citizen Schools is that, “all students have experiences and career mentors that ignite curiosity, build confidence, and help them develop into the next generation of leaders.” Angel’s response assured me that goIT is one way that we are fulfilling that mission.
Our primary method of achieving the Citizen Schools mission is through a ten-week, fall and spring apprenticeships where students work with business, technology and other professionals on projects that help them learn about career pathways that interest them. Between the two semesters, however, there is a six-week intersession. In my capacity as a professional development leader at Citizen Schools, I wanted an additional student project during intersession that would maintain the same high level of rigor as the apprenticeships. When I first heard about goIT in 2018, I suspected that it might be an excellent option.
As I worked with Hillary McDonald to get trained for the goIT implementation, I quickly realized that goIT was a Level 4 curriculum unit according to the Webb Depth of Knowledge (DOK) scale, an instrument educators use to calculate the cognitive depth of an assignment. At Level 4, the highest level of rigor on the Webb Scale, students are asked to perform high-level cognitive tasks such as: apply information to solve problems in new situations, make multiple strategic and procedural decisions, collaborate with a group of individuals, create graphs, tables, and charts, organize the information with minimal instructor prompting, and sell an idea. Students engage in all of those tasks, experiences and more when completing the six units of the goIT curriculum. By the time I finished the training, I knew that goIT would make an excellent addition to the Citizen Schools program.
This is the third year that Citizen Schools has implemented goIT, and staff who have done it a second or third time have come to see the specific rhythm of the goIT experience. “I compare it to an airplane flight,” says Areej Hasan, a Teaching Fellow (TF) at Joseph George Middle School in San Jose, California. “The first two units are the taxiing down the runway. The third unit is the take-off when students choose an idea for their app and really begin to see that they are in control of their projects. That sense of student independence continues through Units 4 and 5. Then comes the excitement of the landing in Unit 6 when students make their pitch for their app at the Shark Tank event.”
In this third year of goIT at Citizen Schools, I not only oversaw the implementation of the project at all campuses but also worked at one specific campus and provided direct service to students as they worked their way through the six-unit goIT project. I, too, saw the students take ownership of their app ideas by the third unit, and was uplifted to hear students talk passionately about their desire to change the world with the app they were creating together. When Diane Bengston, a volunteer from Tata, remoted into our class to give students advice about their apps, they took full advantage of her expertise to add new details to their work. Ismael T., a 7th-grade student at Greenleaf Elementary, said, “Miss Diane really spent a lot of time with me, and made my app better.”