Digital Paths is a specific class of the Madison Central mentors who have expressed the willingness to not only mentor 3rd grade students, but are also willing to learn innovative ways to mentor using technology. The courses in which the mentors earn credit are Innovative Applications using Technology (1st semester) and Advanced Software (2nd semester). The prospective Digital Paths mentors must first pass the requirements for the Humanities mentoring program before being eligible for the Digital Paths selection process. An additional application specific to the Digital Paths program must be submitted before being considered. Having an excellent attendance record, great work ethic, and self-motivation are a few of the characteristics that are looked upon favorably for a mentor. The course requirements for Digital Paths are Keyboarding and Computer Applications. It certainly helps to be comfortable with using computers, but it is not an absolute requirement. Typically, there are 14 senior mentors chosen for Digital Paths. My Digital Paths mentoring instructional partner is Mrs. James, a third-grade teacher at Madison Avenue Upper Elementary.
DP mentors (also called Bigs) are issued a Macbook loaded with software such as Kidspiration, iLife Product Suite, Office for Mac, Garage Band, etc. Mentors are also issued a digital video camera along with the necessary accessories and specific instructions for use and care of the equipment. Before meeting the 3rd graders (also called Littles), the DP students are tasked with putting together a skit for our 1st day at MAUE. On the big day, the Bigs go into the 3rd grade classroom with enthusiasm and an awesome skit to "break the ice." They will then work with the Littles with hands-on projects for a couple of weeks while Mrs. James and I watch the interaction between them. After those weeks, we match the Bigs to 1 or 2 Littles each. With 14 Bigs and 25 Littles, most Bigs have 2 Littles to work with.
The Bigs work with the Littles during 7th block, from 12:30 – 1:30. Some Fridays, we stay at Madison Central for special instruction and completing projects. The class is structured around the 3rd grade curriculum so we use the Macbooks and digital cameras to produce podcasts and movies that serve as a fun, but educational project while learning topics such as the Bones of the body, the Water Cycle, and Geometric Shapes. We use Kidspiration to produce illustrations that help the Littles learn about the Community, the Water Cycle, the Human Life Cycle, etc. The Bigs also work with the Littles to produce several PowerPoints which the Littles will present to the class. Webquests are also done on a regular basis to help teach the Littles how to search the Internet and use it as a resource for learning. Lastly, the Bigs always produce a DVD that includes most of the projects that have been done throughout the year. This DVD is a final gift to the Littles (and their parents) as a memento for their year together.
The only way to truly grasp how much personal growth and learning is accomplished while in the program is to talk with someone who has been a part of it. However, if you have any questions, feel free to ask me anything. The easiest way to contact me is by email. Also, you can go onto my website (www.mcjags.com/cogletree), then navigate to Digital Paths Library and Digital Paths Podcasts to see some of the projects that have been done in the past as well as some of the things that are currently being done in the class.