Students present their ideas about leveraging technology to articulate important messages to target audiences.

Students present their ideas about leveraging technology to articulate important messages to target audiences.

Freshmen at the Critical Design and Gaming School (C:\DAGS) at Augustus Hawkins High School presented projects this week that highlighted social justice issues about which they are passionate. Topics included animal abuse, child abuse and domestic violence. Students worked in small groups on various elements of their projects in different core subject course, including practice with story boarding in language arts classes and data summary and analysis in math classes.

The students incorporated the school’s theme of computer coding and design on different levels. They developed visual summaries of data using software to create info graphs and produced ‘public service announcements’ with animation software. Their presentations were judged by panels of representatives from community-based organizations that partner with schools in the area.

Linked Learning is among strategies frequently referenced by Superintendent MIchelle King to promote pathways that will help prepare graduates for college or careers.

James Dunlavey from the District’s Linked Learning team worked with C:\DAGS to coordinate the activities as a way to promote connections between core content and technical applications in career-oritented settings.

“What we are really doing here is engaging the students in rigorous academic experiences and showing them how they apply to career pathways that interest them,” he said. “It’s all about multidisciplinary projects, which create meaning around instruction by connecting the subjects to various industry sectors. They understand at a deeper level why it is important to learn calculus or to be able to compose an effectively-written essay.”

Esther Soliman, who manages linked learning programs for the District, discussed how the kinds of activities at Hawkins are helping to promoting meaningful career pathways for L.A. Unified students.

“These types of projects are important, because they take the concepts out of theory and put them into practice,” she said. “They provide exposure to real-world work experiences, preparing them for the next stage of exploring careers, which may include work-based learning and career technical education. Both students and teachers benefit from industry professionals who provide feedback on the projects as they are being developed and when the students presents their final product to an professional industry panel.

“We are not talking about just auto shop and wood shop anymore,” she said. “We are talking about computer science and engineering areas in need highly skilled workers who are passionate about applying what they’ve learned to solving real-world problems.”