We recently welcomed UNETE to the pen pal community and chatted more about their work:
PenPal Schools (PPS): What role does technology play in your work?
UNETE (U): We support schools by purchasing and installing technology into media centers created in spaces set aside by the schools. Media centers receive Internet connection, and UNETE-supported teachers then participate in training programs and meetings are held to discuss concerns and opportunities to collaborate. We also provide training sessions on topics such as project-based learning, lesson planning, and how to use our online portal,ComunidadUNETE, which contains over 1300 items of tutorials, lessons, and educational content.
After the initial training, UNETE provides a year of on-site mentoring to assist teachers with curriculum development, technology use, and classroom and technology management issues. Mentors help teachers learn to fully utilize ComunidadUNETE. After the first year of mentoring, the UNETE mentors will take a step back, allowing teachers to put the lessons learned the previous academic year to use more independently. Throughout the entire three years and after, teachers have access to the over 100GB of curriculum, content, and tutorials made available on ComunidadUNETE and offline on the computers.
PPS: Your organization is part of the Dell Youth Learning Network. How long have you been a part of the network and what has the impact been?
UNETE (U): We partnered with Dell for the first time 2010. Since then, we have been very grateful for their support and have been able to help hundreds of students learn better and improve their problem solving, critical thinking, and communication skills.
PPS: What motivated your organization to participate in the Big Small World Contest?
UNETE (U): We were motivated to participate in the contest because of the significant opportunities it offered which we have not seen elsewhere. To begin, the inclusion of UNETE-supported youth in multicultural activities can be difficult in some of our communities, particularly those that are more remote and those in areas with high levels of marginalization (which are most of our communities). Similarly, many of our students would love to learn and improve their English skills; this contest provided a wonderful opportunity to do just that, as well as the chance to learn about another country.
PPS: That’s awesome. Who from your network is participating in the contest?
UNETE (U): There are 24 schools with a total of 120 students participating in the contest. These students are from Jalisco, the State of Mexico, Sinaloa, Nuevo Leon, and Hidalgo.
PPS: How can others get more involved with your organization?
UNETE (U): UNETE is open to ideas for involvement, but some common ways people become involved include our technical brigade (volunteers visit schools and perform maintenance and upgrading of school technology) and school events (volunteers visit schools to paint, clean, and plant flowers at a school).
Thanks for sharing your work with us, UNETE, and welcome to the PenPal community!
Photo courtesy of UNETE