I am co-facilitating a workshop with high school students this summer, and our theme has been digital literacies. While I have a pretty good sense of how to teach technology and writing, I am by no means an expert in computer programming or in video game creation (although working with my own students over the years has helped). So, I have been working to invite folks from “the field” to talk to our students, and yesterday, we were fortunate to have a local computer software programmer — Lou Franco — give up some of his time to talk with the students for about 45 minutes.
Franco was part of the Hack for Change in Western Massachusetts and along with his day job of software programming, he also works on developing mobile apps. In fact, the first thing he did was pull out his iPad and show us an app that he is developing that creates a filter for 3D photography. He gave out some 3D glasses and as he chatted about working as a software developer, the kids checked out an image that he shot of some of our supplies. (He also has written an ebook about developing for the IOS platform.)
I liked how Franco talked about job opportunities, dedication to doing something you are passionate about, and the advice he gave to students who are thinking that programming or technology might in their future. He suggested they begin by building webpages around a topic they know about, writing expository pieces for Open Source software, and volunteering web design services to social service agencies and small businesses. This will allow them to create the start of a portfolio, which can translate into job opportunities.
These are all messages we are regularly sending to these English Language Learner high school students in this program (which is built around academic support, workshops and then jobs in the afternoon). But Franco brought a new and experienced voice into the mix, and for that, I am very thankful. It says a lot when someone gives up part of their day, travels to another town, and meets with high school students he does not know after getting an invite from a teacher he does not know (Lou and I sort of know each other on Twitter).
Peace (in the visit),