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by Anna Mills
Over the school year, my honors class completed a special project with the International Telementoring Program. “The International Telementoring Program, ITP, provides real-world STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) opportunities for students and teachers while supporting work in other areas such as English, Geography, and the Arts. ITP also helps students, beginning in middle school, to develop solid education + career plans, create + leverage professional networks, and execute + refine these plans over multiple years. Professionals from 22 countries have supported over 47,000 students since 1995.” Mr. David Neils is founder of the program and volunteers in my classroom everyday we are focusing on telementoring!
I created a project plan within ITP that enables total inquiry and student autonomy. The project plan follows the 6th grade Earth Science standards and integrates Literacy as well. I gave the students an umbrella to work under which was the topic of natural disasters. Students each decided on a natural disaster of interest and they found the most important real world issues within their topic.
The telementoring organization provides one mentor per student. Their mentors helped guide the students to create and research their topic. I challenged the students to come up with a proposed solution to these world issues. As they researched ways to combat these challenges. Each student wrote an entire scientific research paper. We did several writers workshops that mirrored their Language Arts classes.
As a group, they created a website to share their research and to explain their proposed solution. There were incredible projects completed, from researching volcanic disasters to Hurricane Katrina to the chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Here is an example of what a student had to say about their mentorship this year. “My mentor helped me find credible sites when I was researching whirlpools and he was almost encouraging me to change my topic when I mentioned that I might switch to trash gyres. When that happened, he helped me find credible sites for trash gyre information. When I would ask him a question about my topic, he would have an answer and email at least by the very next day. He really helped me with this project. Thank you Christopher” - Hayden Stearman.
The level of achievement, personalized learning, and critical thinking could have not been mastered without the support of the 1-on-1 mentorship.
The following links will help you to explore the project and a few examples: