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Kimberly Palmer: CDA Project

Posted by on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 in Current Students, Final Projects and Theses, , .

2nd year CDA student Kimberly Palmer conducted her CDA practicum at Youth Encouragement Services (YES). We asked her to share a little more about her project.

What is YES and how did you get involved?

YES is a community-based organization providing after school support for kids from the Napier public houses at the center located off of Lindsley Ave. Most of the students attend Napier Elementary, and all come from low SES households. These students live in apartments where multiple family members live in one or two bedroom apartments.

When I started working there, I asked the director what he needed, and he suggested that they needed a math program. Currently, the center provides Bible classes, homework assistance, tutoring, and other programs. They have Girls on the Run which focuses on self esteem. They have art classes for kindergartners. But the director wanted math for fifth and sixth graders.

So tell us about this math program.

I am incorporating teaching math skills with tasks to develop self efficacy and a future orientation. My math program focuses on closing the achievement gap by providing rigorous curriculum that incorporates inquiry-based learning.

I utilized a project-based learning unit design from the Brooks Institute for Education. I emphasized student voice and choice, inquiry, and 21st century competencies such as collaboration, communication and creativity. The project was to create a nonprofit organization as class. The class named it HP, which stands for Homeless People, Helping People, Happy People (well, lots of things really). And the goal is to help homeless people in the community by providing food, clothing and water, and helping find housing. The student plan to offer budgeting classes, job assistance, and makeovers.

For the project, the class was divided into two groups: Fundraising Committee and programming committee. Each group had a packet to complete that taught how to write equations and expressions and solving equations. The packet leads the groups through the planning process and asks guided questions like How much money will we make if we sell tickets to the fundraiser? Or how much will the program cost?

At the end, the groups present ideas to the “Board of Directors,” a group of professionals invited in to watch. Students can present however they want, but I provided a rubric to help them succeed.

How do you tie in improving self efficacy?

I teach self-efficacy incorporating metacognition as tool. The more they know about how they learn, the more confident they are in academic abilities. The students complete self-efficacy journals to reflect on their learning. Each student has a buddy to help work through struggles or obstacles.They write down specific tasks to overcome barriers to learning. Then reflect on how they used their tasks to feel better about how they learned.

How do you determine if you are successful?

I incorporated an evaluation piece to this project. I pretested math skills and used a tool to pre-test for self-efficacy. At the end, I will post-test both the math skills and self-efficacy.

How does your work in the CDA program apply to this project?

In the first year of CDA, we talked a lot about autonomy and about strengths-based approaches. Those are two big theories that are not directly incorporated in the curriculum but you see at play in the interactions. I am giving the kids control over the learning situation. The first time, they were asking, what do you want us to do. But I said, “you have control”, and that created a new kind of environment.

Self efficacy and metacognition lead to autonomy over your academic achievement. I provide the students the opportunity to figure out their strengths and then how use to them to make the project better. The groups collaborate and talk about what is one student doing versus another and they are sharing strengths.

My hope is to instill a future-orientation and develop  in social capital. When I introduced the project, I asked who they knew in the community that did a job they want to do. A lot of them didn’t know what they wanted to do when they got older or they didn’t know what they could do. One student wanted to be a lawyer but didn’t know any lawyers.

Most students don’t know many professionals besides teachers. What they see in the community is mostly hourly wage workers if they work. So you can see the impact.

What will you do after graduation?

When I graduate on May 8th at 9am, I will move to Chattanooga where the school district recently launched their version of the innovation zone. They are taking lowest performing schools and providing professional development to teachers, recruiting unique teachers with innovative ways of teaching, and incorporating various elements in classroom.

I also hope to design my own nonprofit to partner with schools in this district to extend services for students for academic, social and mental health support.

Any words of wisdom to CDA students?

Have a growth plan: know how you want the program to help you grow. Do you want to become a better practitioner? Is it that you need to learn more about a certain field? Having a growth plan will help you cater the program for you.

Have a growth plan and not an end plan because a growth plan whether you know what you want to do when you come out whether you know your interests or social issues or not—a growth plan will help you as you go through. That’s important because the two years is faster than you think.


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