|Four iWizard seniors (and a senior citizen!)|
As I recently posted, some of my iWizards have grown up! As originally formed three years ago, all members were ninth graders. While still skewed toward younger members, the iWizards will now be represented by students from four grade levels, among them the seniors pictured above.
Three of my seniors have been vitally involved with the program since its inception. We have shared many wonderful experiences and I have promised them that for all of their efforts I will write them absolutely superb college recommendations. I am presently in the process of drafting these letters. In those recommendations I will be remarking upon how the iWizard experience has helped these young women develop the following qualities:
The iWizards do not have fixed leadership positions. For each project, leaders are self-selected or selected by project teammates. Senior iWizards have been leading projects for four years now and have been continually identified as take-charge individuals with exceptional leadership skills.
The iWizards are accountable to each other rather than an adult leader and the team bond is the most effective system of accountability. Students who do not follow through don't remain iWizards very long.
iWizards are given free reign to develop their curriculum and instructional plans for projects like the new student iPad orientation and iCreate! — an arts workshop for middle school students. They do not need “approval” from a teacher though they select mentors who critique their work. The mentor's participation is more collegial than hierarchical.
The iWizards become good at problem-solving. These problems could be technical, logistical or inter-personal.
All iWizards are involved in making presentations at student-to-student workshops. This includes developing slide presentations or designing ice-breaker activities. The students whose letters of recommendations I am writing also presented last spring at the largest teacher technology convention in our state. They were invited by Apple to present on “ iWizards-- Empowering Students as Leaders“.
Outside of developing our collection of iPad Tips and Tricks, all of our projects have been completed as teams that have required continual communication through digital means such as Google Apps.
Stretching Technical Skills
It is not uncommon for the iWizards to join a particular project team so that they can learn more about a technology. Perhaps the best example of this would be a project team which intended to introduce the Schoology LMS to new students. They were required to learn how to use and develop tutorials before the school actually adopted it. Consequently, they became proficient long before the great majority of teachers did.
Finally, after mentioning all of these intangible benefits the iWizards gain from their participation in the group, it should be noted that all of their projects perform a service to the school or greater community. The benefits of this program flow in both directions.