Real World Learning and 21st Century Skills

Summer Internships

Career Academy interns in the workplace

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In the summer of 2010, NLI and the Mobile Learning Institute brought two hands-on, 21st century learning programs to the San Francisco Unified School District, one for 11th graders involved with the district’s Career Technical Education Department’s summer internship programs and another for rising 9th graders in SFUSD’s GEAR UP program. Using social networking platforms to document youth voice with blogging and journaling for reflection and digital media tools to capture student experience, these NLI initiatives offered students a personalized and innovative way to engage with their communities, build skills and develop a deeper sense of their interests and personal potential.

SFUSD Summer Internship Support Program

San Francisco Unified School District has a long history of supporting career-themed academies and small learning communities in high schools across the city to increase students’ post-secondary options and prepare them for life after high school. A cornerstone of this program is the paid summer internship between the junior and senior year for qualifying students.  This provides youth with a work-based learning experience and a formal, supportive introduction to the professional world of work.  Interns report feeling more connected to their city and the work force through interacting with adults, collaborating with them to perform real tasks that have value to their employer.

To guide students through this experience, interns attend twice-weekly seminar classes with an SFUSD teacher to hone their soft skills and discuss workplace experiences. NLI partnered with SFUSD’s CTE Department to provide an Internship Support Program organized around the use of a dedicated social network. Interns explored professional online presence and netiquette, responded to blog prompts designed to help them process their workplace experiences, and documented their internship using mobile media tools. They created online photo albums, Google Maps documenting their internship site and some conducted video interviews of an adult professional they worked with using mobile devices.  The program culminated in a web-based Internship Report which each intern created from materials maintained in their profile.  See the following links to see what students from the Teacher Academy, Academy of Finance and Law Academy had to say about their summer internship experiences.

Gear Up Student Success Academy

It’s no secret that the transition from middle school to high school can be a difficult, complex undertaking for 13- and 14-year olds. In San Francisco, it’s not unusual for a new high school to be in a completely different neighborhood across the city from a student’s middle school.  While they are only four years from leaving compulsory schooling and beginning their professional lives, many students given little thought to what they want out of their high school experience and what they want to do with the next stage in their lives.

NLI partnered with SFUSD’s GEAR UP program to support students in this important middle-to-high school transition. GEAR UP — Gaining Early Awareness of Undergraduate Programs — is a federally funded grant program designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

In the absence of a formal summer school opportunity for SFUSD middle school students, SFUSD’s Gear Up program includes support for Summer Success Academy programs. This past summer these NLI offered a 21st century skill development workshop to enhance the project-based programming offered by six of the mentor-teachers at three of the city’s Gear Up high schools.

Participating instructors developed their own projects focused on community and civic engagement and worked with NLI coaching staff to include collaboration, reflection, documentation and productions skills in the design of their summer programs. Projects were organized around the use of the social network and digital media tools and addressed topics that included:

  • documenting and creating city art murals
  • mapping locations in the city where high school students can find healthy ways to relax and the manage stress
  • researching local health, nutrition and environmental issues
  • investigating cultural history in San Francisco neighborhoods

By connecting class projects to the larger community and by using 21st century tools to showcase their work, participating Gear Up students were able to put their summer programs into a wider academic and civic context. See the links below to view the Gear Up social network and see highlights of student work from several of the SFUSD Summer Success Academies.

SFUSD Gear Up Summer Success Academy Social Network

Balboa High School

- Balancing and Destressing in San Francisco

- Art, Life and Literature

Mission High School

- What Is Community?

- San Francisco History