- DvNT sophomores’ first steps to student empowerment: bringing The Interrupters to town
- DvNewTech sophomores prepare to moderate interview with Alex Kotlowitz, producer of The Interrupters
- watching humble sophomores interview an acclaimed author/producer = my #eduwin
- First, the thanks; then I’ll carve the meat
- Tues @DNTHS: Violence Interrupter “Cobe” Williams joins us via Skype
- The coolest part about tomorrow: partnerships showing strength and growing @DNTHS
- On social media: Bridges bring the heroes in while fences make more villains
Last year spring, my students rocked the My Bloody Life / gangs awareness project we threw at them. It was a testament to how a project can change its direction from the grassroots of the classroom — the student body — and how reading high-interest materials can promote deeper learning. As the advocates who voiced interest in seeing The Interrupters at our school, their voice was much of the reason why we got a pre-release copy of the documentary and then got to interview an expert from the film team via Skype.
When I first announced last year I was working with the Interrupters production team to set up a Skype session, all my students wanted to know was which Violence Interrupter we were going to interview. To our surprise, we got a bigger name than I could even believe at first — the filmmaker himself, Alex Kotlowitz. Now, thanks to a sustained relationship with Kartemquin Films, we are excited to be hosting a Skype session with one of the Violence Interrupters, Ricardo “Cobe” Williams, featured in the documentary.
In the documentary, Cobe is one of the younger CeaseFire Violence Interrupters. He is featured in the documentary both interrupting violence as well as helping to transition a young man back into community after incarceration. Cobe joined the CeaseFire team after time in prison himself, becoming part of the solution instead of returning to the problem that appears to be an endless cycle in Chicago.
With such great success last year in having my students facilitate the discussion, I have again empowered them to come up with the questions that are relevant to their study and also the expectations of our audience. As a class, we are watching the documentary tomorrow. All of my sophomores will be joining the conversation this time around, too, but this time in the school auditorium.
The relationship with Kartemquin has been one that has spread to more schools than just us. With the launch of the Interrupt Violence website, The Interrupters as a film will evolve to a new level. When two learning organizations can come together, they have a lot to offer each other. I like to think that some of my students have been part of an encouraging group of young people who make a call for the end of violence.
I am excited to hear, too, that Broadand Illinois will be joining us on Tuesday to document how high-speed Internet is a benefit to education. This kind of connection — a “bridge” so to speak — is only possible because my students and the connectivity made it possible.