Sunday, June 14, 2009

How to set up and manage a School Archive Project

Now that we are starting five new School Archive Projects in Dallas ISD schools at all levels (three middle schools, one high school, and one elementary school), and now that we have the first nationally published article on the Archive Project by America's Promise, there's need for more detailed instructions to help in starting additional School Archive Projects.

The School Archive Project is a simple reinforcement for the work teachers already do to focus students onto their own futures. It helps focus students on what they need to succeed in life as an adult. It provides an additional tool for teachers that is also very popular with students.

The basic steps in setting up a School Archive Project are:

1) You must have the full commitment of the school administration for the project. This is not a one person project, though one person can get it started. With administrative support it is easier to obtain the 30 or so minutes needed every year with all school staff to help everyone understand how the Archive Project reinforces work already being done to motivate students to prepare for their own futures. The better all staff in a school understand the Archive Project the greater the success will be!

2) The vault must be visible by all students as many times every school day as is possible. Location is critical. A bright spotlight focused on the vault helps draw attention to it.

3) Start the school year with an initial writing project for the incoming students no matter their grade level. It could be as simple as a letter about their current life and work and their plans for the school year, or a more researched family & personal history with plans they have for their life. This letter will be placed into the vault with the understanding that students will take it out of the vault to update it or to write another letter before they leave that school to go on to middle school, or high school, or college. As student pass the vault they may think of the letter they already have in it as well as the letter they will be writing before they leave to their next level of education.

4) End the school year with the final letter writing project by the departing class be they 5th graders going to middle school, 8th graders going to high school, or seniors going out into the world and/or other studies. That project is the final draft of the letter for the vault. This is where it is highly recommended that photos be taken and a copy of that photo given to students as a reminder of their letter and their class reunion.

More details for this process are on the web site. Do not hesitate to write if there are questions.