Oakland International High School @Google

>> PASHUPATHY: My name is Kannan Pashupathy.
I’m a director in Research Organization at Google. And I’m delighted to welcome Indra,
Rahwa, Omar, and Ana, four students from the Oakland International High School and their
technology teacher, Sailaja Suresh, and the school principal Carmelita Reyes. I heard
about this school about a year and a half ago or so while watching a program on television
and decided to go visit them because it seems they’re unique. And I have been really impressed
with the work that they do, so on the basis of that we asked them to come here and actually
talk about their school and their experiences. I’ll do a little bit of a high level overview
of the school and then invite Carmelita to actually talk about it in more detail and
entries of the students. So Oakland International High School is the first public school of
its kind in California. Unique in that 100% of its students are immigrants and over 90%
qualified for a free reduced price lunch. Of the 320 students served by OIHS, nearly
one-third hold refugee status and many more have had interruptions in their formal education
having escaped ethnic conflicts and severe poverty in places like Liberia, Nepal, and
Burma. Only six percent of English language learners in Oakland in 2008 by eligible for
admission into the University of California System at the time of graduation, and this
year as OISH prepares to graduate its first class of students, at least 60% of their seniors
are eligible for admission to the UC system. And due to the great work done by the OISH
staffs, the students are able to overcome the tremendous obstacles in their lives and
graduate high school to pursue college educations. And the teachers hold top tier degrees and
I’ve really been impressed with the dedication that they show to the welfare of the students
and to see them succeed. I’d like also to add that we have different programs that we’re
trying to do with the school and if any of you who are engineers are interested in volunteering
your time to actually teach a programming classes that we’re tempting to work with them
on as well, then I’d be very grateful. So with that I’d like to invite Carmelita to
come up here and to start with the introductions and talk a little bit about the school and
then open it up for a conversation.>>REYES: Good morning. I am here representing
a lot of teachers who did a lot of hard work to open a new school for immigrants in Oakland
four years ago. This is a group of children that historically, in the United States, in
California and in Oakland, have been underserved and have not reached their potential. Newly
arrived immigrants who come in to this country at age 14, 15, 16, in general, never graduated.
They had too many obstacles to graduation, English being just one of them. And in Oakland,
like I said, the majority didn’t graduate, and so about six years ago, it started a conversation
about what are we going to do differently to create opportunities for students who,
through no faults of their own, only do the immigration process at a particular point
in their lives, really were set back and by–and not just one individual student but a whole–the
next generation. So what we did is, in Oakland, it was reached out through an organization
called Internationals Networks that have a lot of success in New York City working with
immigrants and refugees. And we opened a school in 2007 and we started out with 58 students
and six teachers, and now we have over 300. Our students come from 31 countries and speak
29 languages other than English, and they all bring tremendous strengths. However, what
they don’t have is English and a large percentage of them don’t have technology skills. And
those are the two things that we focused on in their instruction so that they can be productive
in the United States and have access to college. So, I want to tell you a little bit about
our students. Some of them are beautifully educated in their home countries, they just
don’t happen to speak English. And others come with huge gaps in their formal education;
maybe they went to second or third grade in Guatemala and have not been in school since.
We have students who are Iraqi refugees, student who was hit with the roadside bomb, and he
has lost an arm and an eye, has shrapnel still lodged into his brain, has a brain damage.
So we have students who have tremendous needs but also have tremendous strength that they
can bring to the United States. And so, what I’m here to do today is to talk a little bit
about who these students are, engage you in a short conversation about what are the needs
of these students, and then I’m going to introduce some and a teacher who will talk about technology
and how we’re using it to build tremendous workers and thinkers and learners. So, what
I’m going to share are some immigration stories that our students wrote in their first year
they immigrated. And if you could, hey Rahwa give one–give one to each person, and everybody
should get a different story. And I’d like you to spend one minute just reading the story
of a particular student. [PAUSE]
>>REYES: And what I’d like you to think about is what are the support that that child may
need. Aside from the obvious of needing to learn English.
[PAUSE]>>REYES: And if you could turn to your neighbor
and do a very brief share out of who that student is and what you think they might need
in a school and in a support structure so that they could be successful in America.
In the interest of time, I’m going to cut-off the conversation but would anybody like to
volunteer or something they think that a student might need? The teacher in me can come out,
I can start pointing at people and calling on them. I’m picking you, yes.
>>I think our conversation definitely revolved around emotional supports and explanations
about the differences in culture and the differences in, sort of, their lives and also maybe the
similarities and so, some sort of emotional support whether its counseling or whether
it’s friends or family. So that’s what our conversation was.
>>REYES: And over here. These group, what were you all discussing.
>>Challenges faced by undocumented immigrants, that they have to worry about whether they’ll
be able to get a job, whether they could be deported, whether they’re eligible for financial
aid.>>REYES: These are just a few of the problems
that our kids have. Actually, these documents have been tremendously helpful in eliciting
some of these challenges for our kids because they don’t come with, you know, an index card
saying, “This is my problem, please help me with it.” And so we have to discover it and
often language is a barrier. There is one student here who wrote his story about his
father being a police official in Morocco, and that the family was threatened by terrorist,
and so their family was sent to America to keep them safe and their father was still
back in Morocco. When he first came all he could say in English is, “My father policeman,”
and so I thought his father was a policeman and that was as much as I knew about his story
until he wrote it down and illustrated it, and then I had a much larger comprehension
of like, “Oh, this is–this is quite another level of stress that the family is under.”
So, we have students who come to us, like I said, beautifully educated but don’t know
English, and then other who may or may not know their times tables. And we are entrusted
with moving that work forward so that they have the opportunities to reach the American
dream. Now I want to talk a little bit about the economic challenges of doing this. I am
on a budget committee in Oakland and so I am also charged with going out and making
California citizens aware of the budget situation. My counterparts in New York, the New York
public schools, they have three times as much funding as I do and three times as many adults
in the school to do the kind of work that our kids need and give the kind of supports.
And so, in comparable schools with the same students, the same numbers, they have counselors
and vice principals and social workers, and that’s just not available in California with
the current funding crisis. And I wanted to give you a little piece of how does that play
out in a school, so next year assuming that the tax–that there are tax extensions here
in the State of California. We are slated at the school site level to get 4500 and 57$
per people to educate them. And what are we required to pay for? My salary, my teachers
salaries, the custodian’s salary, the lights, the water, all the supplies, the coffee machine,
the toner, all the books and the pencils, all the fieldtrips, all the bus passes for
the students. And when you break that down for what does that look like on a day or hourly
rate, the per hour allocation is 3$ and 32 cents to educate a child in Oakland, and I
pay my babysitter 15$ just to make sure my kid doesn’t drink Drano and, you know, and
to keep him safe. And in California, we are asking teachers to do a tremendous amount
of work and asking principals and custodians and school site officers to keep kids safe
and clean and well prepared, and it is just not sufficient funding. So, go out and vote,
pressure your political officials to fund schools. There is plenty of money in the State
of California to do so. It is a matter of making it a priority. So, that’s my little
plug for funding help bringing schools. I’m going to let SAILAJA to talk, really about
technology and how we’ve been using it in the schools, and I do want to say thank you
to Google Translate, with 29 languages in our school, I would be sunk without it. I
constantly write notes in English and have them translated, and notes like “Your son
is smoking behind the gym,”, or “Your daughter is coming to school late everyday,” and it’s
very helpful, I would never be able to do my job so, thank you.
>>SURESH: Hi. My name is Sailaja Suresh. I am the founding math teacher and the technology
coordinator at Oakland International. I’m here to talk to you a little bit about how
we use technology at the school and to also talk about some ways in which you can engage
with the school beyond today’s talk. When we started the school about four years ago,
all of the technology resources we had at the school consisted of machines of varying
ages and varying degrees of functionality that we had essentially scavenged from other
schools that were closing down and it was not pretty. To top it all of, that first class
of students that we took in, a number of them were refugees who had never used a computer
before in their lives. I mean, I distinctly remember teaching students how to use a mouse
and the difference between left click and right click, which I still do to this day.
And so the objective of our technology program is really to give students those basic, basic
skills including keyboarding, but to also take them to a place where, by the time they
graduate they can create and produce college level work that will help them be successful
beyond the doors of our school. So, the technology electives that we provide our students at
our school, range from arts where our students learn how to use Photoshop and InDesign and
flash to computers where they learn Microsoft office, Google docs, open office, movie maker.
And then electives where students do things like make websites, make blogs, learn how
to animate in flash, learn how to produce music using Rezon and digital keyboards. So
we have a wide variety of technology electives that we make available to our students, and
none of these would be–would be possible without the help of one of our local partners
that provides us with refurbished technology. OTX was the name of the non-profit that takes
donated computers from companies like Google and other large institutions. They refurbish
them and they provide them to schools at low cost, so that we have actually been able to
assemble four full computer labs for students to use on a drop-in basis. And students used
those labs in all of their academic classes to produce work. But given the budget constraints
that Carmelita was talking a little bit about, even these refurbished machines are probably
out of our reach next year or the year after. I mean, it’s–it makes it so bad our students
will not have access to technology if we didn’t have partner like OTX and if we didn’t have
money to allocate towards these resources. So, you know the other thing that I wanted
to talk about is the fact that we use Google apps for education for just about everything.
It has transformed how we work, not just as teachers with each other but also in classes
with students. I can’t imagine teaching my class without it. I mean we use Google docs
and Google sites and blogger and Gmail every single day in all of our classes. And all
of my students can testify to the fact that they go to a Google form at the beginning
of every class, to start every class and they check their email at the beginning of every
class. And to be able to administer that from within our own domain at the school is hugely
empowering for me. It has made all the difference in my ability to plan lessons and check students’
work and make sure that students are on task. And so if any of you work on Google apps,
thank you. I’m extremely grateful to you. I’m also extremely interested in the other
things that you were doing and other products that we might not know about that you believe
could help us reach our students and help them gain the skills that they need to succeed
after high school. So if you are interested in working with the school in any way beyond
today’s talk, there are a couple of different ways you could get involved. Perhaps, the
simplest way is adopt a classroom. This is a website where our teacher are able to create
accounts and donors are able to provide any amount of money to that teacher to be used
throughout the school year for projects that they need. The reason this is helpful is because
teachers are able to design projects throughout the school year without the constraints of
the budget cycle and the ordering cycles in the district, and they can access those funds
and purchase materials at any point during the school year for the projects they need
based on their students needs. So they don’t have to decide in September what project they
want to teach in May based on where their students will be on April. They can decide
in April, “My students really need these skills and this is the project I want to teach, and
so these are the materials I’m want to buy.” That’s not something that teachers normally
have the power to do but this website empowers them to be able to have that flexibility to
plan in that way. Another way that people can get involved, if you are interested in
volunteering and actually working with students for the next three weeks, I will be teaching
a video game design class at Oakland International. It’s the first time we’ve ever taught this
class and I’m very excited. It’s based on a curriculum called Bootstrap which some of
you may know about and it teaches programming and scheme, so students actually produce a
little video game in over the course of the three weeks in pairs. I’m happy to have anyone
volunteer, one or two days or as many days that you’re available over the course of those
three weeks to help students how to code, learn how to de-bug, learn how to present
their products to other people. And, you know, if that seems like too much for you, you know,
we’re always looking for guest speakers to come in and talk to our students in the internship
class or people who would be willing to host a student for a day, one or two times a year
to be a job shadow. As many of you probably realize, most of our students don’t have a
lot access to adults who work in the technology industry or adults who are professionals in
general. And being available, even if it’s only being available by email to be interviewed
by a student, could have a huge impact on the trajectory of that student’s academic
career. I mean, they don’t have other adults in their lives, they can ask questions to
you like, “How do you get a job at Google?” Or, “What does an engineer do?” They don’t
know engineers. They need adults in their lives who are not their teachers, who are
not their parents, but who are professionals who are interested in opening the window to
the world of possibilities that are out there for them if they continue their education,
they continue to learn English, and try to find something to do that they love. So we’re
happy to talk to you about other ways you can get involved with the school. Feel free
to ask questions at the end or share your thoughts or ideas but I want to turn the microphone
over to our students because they are four pretty amazing students who are here. And
I really want you to hear their stories. So our first student speaker is RAHWA MUZOLLO,
she’s a twelfth grader from Eretria. Please give her a warm welcome.
>>MUZOLLO: Hello everyone, good afternoon. Okay, thank you so much for having me here.
My name is Rahwa Muzollo. All right, sorry, I am from Eretria, that’s in East of Africa.
This year, I am grade 12, senior student in Oakland International High School. And in
our school there is 61 senior students, 56 of them will–will attend in community college,
in two year or four year college for next year. And, I, in Oakland International School
its very, very nice school for us as immigrant students because some of my reason to say
this is the teachers, they help up is our vocabulary, everything in English as English
learner students, beside the–the lecture that we should learn in class. And also for
next year, I am planning to go to community college first, then to university. I want
to study in pharmacist to be pharmady for the future. I came to United States last year
because I came to leave in Eretria. In Eretria, the government didn’t allow freedom of religion,
so and I want to have that that’s why I came to United States. I have big problems, that’s
I have to struggle with them since I came to United State and the first on is I came
to United State alone. I don’t have parents here. So I have to do a lot of things by myself,
to go to such as finding school and also living in United State, everything. So as a teenager
that’s difficult for me to do it. So, and also public school is, it’s free to learn
everything but for community college, since I didn’t finish my immigrations as I’m [INDISTINCT]
as this time, so up to I didn’t finish it, I have to pay for that so I have to think
about that. I don’t know how to do it. And my second struggle is learning English because
even I am learning in Eretria some English, but I have to improve a lot here. Oakland
International High school is helping me a lot to improve it but still I have to improve
it. And the first time when I came here just to, in three months that was, I was really
shy at that time because if I do mistake in my English everything, people will laugh at
me or something, so that’s why I didn’t speak at that time. But I struggle with myself that’s
because if I didn’t speak English, if I didn’t practice it, then I will never can speak English
in my life. So that was my struggle to do that and also the start to engage lifestyle
on this country. In this country, people, they can speak like freely for what they want
to say for people, for their teacher, everything but in Eretria, we cannot speak for older
than us people free whatever you want because that is a sign of respect if you didn’t speak
for people. So I should, I have to change it here, thus I have to say whatever what
I want to, to get what my need. So this also one of the three struggles in my life. Thank
you so much for Google for giving us this opportunity because this is very important
for me because this is one skill that speak in this big company workers, so thank you
so much. And now I will transfer the stage to ANA, junior student in my, in our school.
Thank you for listening to me silently.>>LOPEZ: Hi everyone. My name is Ana. I’m
from Honduras and I came to United State because my mom wants a better future for me. So in
my future, I would like to study for a nurse. First I would like to go to a community college
and then transfer in to a university. But one of the mis–my biggest struggle that I
have is that, sometimes it’s hard to get scholarships because I am an undocument students and because
one of the best scholarships ask you for your ID number. And there’s scholarship that it
can help you but not for everything, but it doesn’t matter because I will figure it out
one way to pay my education so I be can be an example for those undocument students.
And one of my hopes, is to the President Obama help to the Dream Act come true. The proximate–the
Dream Act will provide me to financial–financial aide and it can apply for citizenships. Now
I will transfer to OMAR. And thank you.>>GAUL: Good afternoon everyone. My name
is Omar Gaul. I am from Mexico and I came to the United States to get a better education
because in my home country you have to pay a lot of money to be able to go to school.
And it’s really hard to find schools that will accept someone with low income like me
and most of the school they don’t have good technology like computers and if you want
to have–if you want to go to those kind of schools you have to pay more money. Something
I wanted to talk about is the way I learned English and that was by playing video games.
I started playing video games like Mario and then moved on to more challenging games like
Golden Eye, OO7, and the Lion of Selda. The reason why these games were more challenging
to me was because they were in English and the games is based on doing what the characters
asked you, so I didn’t–at the beginning I didn’t knew what they were telling me but
then as I went through the game, I start to understand what the characters wanted to me
to do and I also started to understand English and that was a–helped me a lot.
>>REYES: Can I clarify something? This is when he was in Mexico. That’s where he learned
English was by video games.>>GAUL: The school in Mexico, it’s really
expensive and when I was twelve–when I was in twelfth grade, I stopped going to school
because I didn’t have enough money to keep going to school and also because I had to
take care of my little brothers. When I turned 16, I went to adult school which was a little
different from the normal schools. In there, I went for three months adult–adult school
and after that I took an exam that was worth for three years of school and I passed my
exams the first try. This was a very good accomplishment for me because after not going
to school for about four years and then passing those exams, made me feel really good and
give me a lot of hope. For my future I am–I am kind of confused because there are a lot
of things that people can do, I want to be scientist and a fire fighter and a policeman
and–and I’m not sure what–what shall I start with. And now I would like to introduce INDRA.
Thanks for listening.>>KARKI: Good afternoon everyone. It’s my
great honor to be here today and thanks for having me. My name is Indra Karki and I go
to Oakland International High School. I have been in the US for two and a half years. My
parents, they were from Bhutan but they were forced to live as a refugee in Nepal for 17
years. I grew up in refugee camp with lot of different perspectives and, a lot of different
perspectives and task. My dad, he was–he used to work in a school. My mom who never
went to school had to stay home and help all refugees for survival, distribute foods and
ration that he went provided us every 15 days. My parents, they were forced to leave from
Bhutan because of political circumstances and laws. They are forced to–they are used
as forced labor as–like a slavery. Their language and their culture was banned in Bhutan,
in Southern–in Southern Bhutan for Nepalese speaking people. They were chased from Bhutan
in the year 1992. I was born in refugee camp in ’93 and almost living, almost whole life
in a refugee camp. I had to, I can dream about a lot of things but I can never hope it will
come true. And there was a–in the year 2008, there was a fire in the refugee camp which
made us live in the forest for two months under the tent fighting with storm and wind
and hot sun. And he when, and he was government decided the refugees to resettle in different
countries like Australia, US, Canada, and Europe, European countries. And first of–lucky
I got a chance to come to California and live in Oakland and experience my new life and
hope for my dreams. When I first came here, I didn’t know how to turn on the computer.
I see a lot–I see a lot of holes and buttons in the computer which is really confusing.
When I saw a lot of people–when I saw people using the button, I did the same. I quickly–I
quickly gained the knowledge of using computers and internet. And as I started going to Oakland
International High School, I change–it changed the way I live and I was–I finally found
what I love to do this computer–to study computer science in college. This–next fall
I will attend UC San Diego and I hope to major in Computer Science. I’m also looking forward
to work with Google after I graduate from college. And thanks for having us.
>>REYES: Hi. So I don’t know if there’s any questions but I did want to say that it is
amazing that technology can transform the lives of kids. When we opened, it was 2007
and that was a first wave of refugees who were coming out of Burma. At that time they
were mainly Corinth speakers. And the next year, I went to go visit the refugee camps
that they came out of and they had no electricity, no running water, and had never seen a computer.
They had never seen ice. I mean like, they’d never seen a toilet, they’d never seen ovens.
And so America was this very mysterious place. And so, within a week of arriving they come
to Oakland International High School and see their first computer and touched their first
computer and Sailaja teaches them to double click. And friends and family members that
they thought were lost forever were found on the internet because what happens in refugee
camps when there’s resettlement is usually camps are dispersed across the planet. A hundred
refugees go to New Zealand, a hundred go to Mexico, a hundred go to Oakland, California,
a hundred go to England, and families and comminutes are broken up, and the students
found their cousins and their former neighbors and they couldn’t believe it. And so within
a week they became very proficient at things like, email and chatting and it was really
amazing for them. So I am, sort of, in awe of technology. And thank you guys for helping
make it possible. If you have any questions for us or for the students, we can take them.
>>I just can’t imagine how you can prepare people for college when they come here not
knowing the language and possibly not having an 8th grade education. What can you say about
that?>>REYES: Sure. So we, like I said, we have
students who come at all–all kinds of levels of education. The strongest predictor of how
quickly you will learn English is how much formal education you have in your native language.
And so if you have a strong educational background, most people can learn English and pass the
State exit exam within about 45 years. That’s a fairly normal trajectory. When you have
gaps in your formal education, that challenge becomes much larger. However–well in traditional
settings where you might only have one or two hours of language instruction in a day,
it becomes impossible. But because our school is structured to give students language acquisition
skills in every class, so the art teacher, the science teacher, the P.E. teacher, the
math teacher are building in language opportunities to read, write and speak English. So you’re
not just teaching math, you’re teaching literacy and math. It’s seven hours a day of straight
English, and by really focusing in every class on English language acquisition; we can ramp
up the opportunities for some kids that would otherwise be left behind. But we also have
a lot of kids who go into the community college system because when you immigrate at 16 or
17, even if you pass–in California it’s called the K-6 examination, most of then still need
to work on their English and a community college is a great place to do that and then to transfer.
But then we have kids like Indra who are off to the university. So we sort of support multiple
levels of student achievement.>>I’d love to hear from the students who
are in the technology class. What sort of the day in life or maybe some of your favorite
days at the tech–in the technology class work.
>>REYES: What you learn, what it’s like?>>GAUL: We haven’t taken the class yet.
>>REYES: The video game class.>>GAUL: Oh, the computer class. I really
like this class because it taught us a lot of things, like making videos and making presentations.
And this is a very good class because it will help you a lot in the future after you graduate
from high school and after you get out of university. It will help you in your work
and it will show that you know more things that the people expect you to. You can prove
them that immigrants like us, can still learn a lot of things like them.
>>LOPEZ: Well, we have like two [INDISTINCT] presentation and I present about the wiki
page. It was wonderful because I used to use computer but not like now, and I know more
and I know that I can do more stuff like import, like import things like–really I–this year
I really learned about technology that I never thought that I would learn. And thanks to
Mrs. SAILAJA because I learned a lot to use the websites, how can I create things. And
yes.>>REYES: One of the
things I will say about Sailaja’s class is
I always thought that computers were very–an isolating experience where you have your screen
and it’s just one-on-one, and with Google docs and other technology where there’s collaboration
between kids on projects and the way we actually teach English is about collaboration. And
so kids in all of their classes are working in groups. And I was like, “I don’t know how
that’s going to work in a computer lab where everybody is sitting in front of a computer,”
and Sailaja’s like, “No, no, no. They have all these things like Google documents and
like three kids can be working on the same project at the same time and they’re talking
to each other on the computer and like building things together.” And I was like, “Really?”
And that was the first year that she was teaching technology and then she’s like, “You know,
we can use this as a staff.” I’m like, “Well how does that work?” And, so now as a staff,
we use Google docs where the whole staff can see things like disciplinary referrals to
the office, and say, “Oh, who went to the office today and what they do? Whose mother
got called?” And both for–and also we can see everybody’s grades and how they’re doing
and it has been a real learning tool for us as adults. And so kids are learning this new
technology and the adults are learning the technology at the same time and it’s–it’s
pretty cool. [PAUSE]
>>REYES: I think we’re done?>>Yes.
>>REYES: Well hangout afterwards if you want to talk to any of the kids individually, and
otherwise thank you so much for joining us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *