As usual, I first want to thank each of you for your support and for checking out the blog. Things are going well, although a bit slow in terms of progress since the last update, as the students have had a few sessions "off" due to various school holidays. In addition, a large group of students have an SAT prep class on Saturday mornings, and it was extended one week (they took a practice test). Therefore, we cancelled that session, too. But, that's not to say that things have not been moving along! They have, and as always, I'm excited to share the updates. At this point, we have the rest of February and March for the students to complete their individual projects in terms of their chosen historical topics. Thus, we've been knee-deep into the actual research that historians -- stuff that I do on a daily basis! -- actually do at a graduate and professional level. Some of this involves searching for library books but also searching from primary sources and creating an outline of their research framework. It's undoubtedly challenging for students as they are used to working from a textbook, and not actually doing real (hard!) research themselves. It's both challenging for me, pedagogically, to teach them these skills and of course, challenging for them to learn because its "new." But, that's why we are here, right?! The students are so smart and ambitious, and its great to see them do this work.
This current phase of the project will conclude before we focus entirely on oral history in April and some of May -- authentically creating another model where students can do oral history not for the sake of a school project, but legitimately creating historical knowledge through a scholarly process that will be uploaded into a digital archive. I am beyond fortunate to have my advisor and history professor here at Columbia helping me craft this later initiative -- her insight and support is invaluable, and it is truly a team effort! So, while I am currently working with students on their research projects in each session now, behind the scenes, we are planning a strategy for this oral history focus to come to fruition in the Spring (or at least in the Summer and beginning next Fall).
Until then, however, students will be visiting the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture the next two weeks, so it'll be fun to bring the research to life more than than just computer work. I'll keep this update short because we have a lot planned in the weeks ahead that I look forward to sharing more extensively. Here's a picture of my colleague talking to students about college and answering questions they have about the process. Although this is a program, it's imperative to keep the students' well-being first above any curriculum. Ultimately, we want to provide resources and support them in going to college, and we try to make this program a "college prep" program as well.