In Las Vegas students are encouraged to use iPads to craft their own stories to be inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and discover their potential within them. Apple is celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy by sharing it on the company’s homepage.
Mike Lang, a technology teacher at Laura Dearing Elementary School on the East Side of Las Vegas in the Clark County School District, focuses on his students in their local community as public servants and activists.
Here what Mike Lang says:
Lang says, “My hope for all my students is that they see and regard themselves as world citizens who are responsible for helping others succeed.” This month, with his kindergarten and first-grade students, Lang launched a three-part project to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and instill in them a sense of civic duty. “That’s the ultimate goal: we want people who, in the true sense of that word, will be informed, passionate, patriotic, and who will be empathic,” he added.
The first part of Lang’s project is intended to teach children that they are precious, using “You Matter” by children’s book author Christian Robinson as a starting point for self-reflection. “To believe that their point of view matters, their story matters, their opinions matter, and their ideas matter, children have to have a level of self-esteem,” he says. “For students, it is important to understand that they have inherent power just because they are themselves.”
To capture and edit pictures of themselves, their friends, and their communities, students can use iPad and then craft their stories on why they matter using the iPad coding app PBS KIDS ScratchJr. Next, using Brad Meltzer’s book “I Am Martin Luther King Jr.,” the students will study Dr. King’s life and legacy and compare and contrast with him by making double-exposure portraits of themselves with the leader of civil rights.
Finally, Lang will ask them in the project’s ‘I’m a Dreamer, Too’ segment how they can be of service to each other and their neighbors. For each part of the project, the students will complete interactive workbooks in Keynote and will compile their thoughts into a collated book of their proposals, which they will have the opportunity to discuss later this semester with community organizers and legislators in Las Vegas.
Lang has been teaching for 14 years in the Clark County School District. Washington, D.C.-native taught fourth graders in Pascagoula, Mississippi, prior to settling in Las Vegas, before moving overseas to teach English in Taiwan’s small town of Miaoli City. It was there that he figured out how technology could be used as a learning instrument. And all started with an iPod. In a way that would be engaging, “I was trying to find out a way to teach English to children who spoke Mandarin,” Lang says.
Lang relied on American music, from classic rock to hip hop, to immerse his students in the English language after purchasing an iPod in Taiwan in 2004. And three years later, when he arrived in Las Vegas, he set out to buy as many iPod shuffles and Nanos as he could get his hands on, using Audacity on Mac audio editing software to record his lessons and distribute them to his students.
Lang says, “I saw how technology could transform and transmit knowledge much more easily to students than I was trying to describe it.” “After that, I became a digital learning coach and began to spread the gospel of making children make stuff with tablets. I have been fortunate to evolve with the evolution of classroom digital technology.”
Today, Lang sees himself and all the teachers as architects, truly remarkable. Tributing to American architect Louis Sullivan and his book “Kindergarten Chats,” in which Sullivan coined the term “form follows function,” Lang believes that to be effective for all students, every lesson plan requires the correct form and function. “For the right tasks, you have to have the right blueprints,” Lang says. It takes a lot of craftsmanship and looks at it from the point of view of an architect to suggest, how can you allow the consumer to creatively use your product and use it and use it in ways that you may not even expect it to be used? ”
In a way, it is possible to apply Lang’s overarching theory of teaching to the way his students see and form themselves in the world. His students will have a blueprint of ideas for transforming their culture at the end of the project and the roles they will play in making the change happen.
Today also marks the launch of Apple’s second challenge in the “Taking Action on Racial Equity and Justice” learning series, “Make a Positive Impact on Your Community,” with Lang’s project already underway. The “Challenge for Change” series provides a compilation of dialogue guides focused on the challenge-based learning paradigm and intended to assist educators, community leaders, and individuals.
“We have to enter the classroom every day as educators with the idea that one, if not all, of our students, can change the world,” says Lang. “Maybe it’s a Martin Luther King Jr., maybe it’s a Bernice King, maybe it’s a Coretta Scott King, maybe it’s a Martin Luther King Jr., maybe it’s a Coretta Scott King, maybe it’s someone who would hopefully be a beacon that other people would rally to.”
This challenge, revealed this morning in a call to action by Dr. Bernice A. King, Dr. King’s second youngest daughter, of The King Center, encourages individuals to give back to their “beloved communities,” which Lang believes must begin in schools.
“The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. of striving to be outstanding, seeking to do what is right, and striving to be equal goes beyond race. It’s economics and empathy, and it’s this notion of unity with all people,” Lang says. My hope is that my students will realize that there is fundamental humanity to which we must all be obliged, not only within their class, not only within their school, but within their culture, their town, their country, and the world.”