On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Apple has highlighted a Las Vegas technology teacher who uses the iPad to teach students how to craft their own stories.
Apple on Monday published a feature story of the project, which was headed up by elementary school teacher Mike Lang. Lang works as a technology educator in the Clark County School District's Laura Dearing Elementary School.
The project involves students taking and editing images of themselves, their family and their community. From there, they craft "their stories about why they matter" using a coding app. The first part is designed to "show kids that they are valuable," and uses Christian Robinson book "You Matter" as a starting point.
Each student will then research Dr King's life and legacy using Brad Meltzer's "I Am Martin Luther King Jr.," and compare and contrast themselves to him with a double exposure portrait. In the final part of the project, Lang asks each student how they can be of service to each other and their neighbors.
During each part of the project, Apple says students use interactive workbooks in Keynote. Lang will then compile students' thoughts into a collated book, which they will be able to share with community organizers and lawmakers in Las Vegas later in 2021.
"My hope for all my students is that they see and consider themselves as citizens of the world who are responsible for helping others be successful," Lang says.
The project seeks to both honor Dr. King's legacy and "instill a sense of civic duty" in both kindergarten and first grade students in the Clark County School District.
"That's the ultimate goal: We want people who are going to be informed, passionate, patriotic in the true sense of that word, and who are going to be empathetic," Lang said.
Lang has been teaching in the Clark County School District for 14 years and has been recognized as an Apple Distinguished Educator. Before arriving in Las Vegas, he first explored how technology can be used as a learning tool when teaching English to students in Taiwan.
"I saw how technology could transform and transfer information to students far more efficiently than me trying to explain it," Lang said. "I became a digital learning coach after that and started to spread the gospel of having kids make things with devices. I've been blessed to grow with the evolution of digital in classrooms."
Alongside the feature on Lang, Apple also highlighted the launch of the second challenge in its own "Taking Action on Racial Equity and Justice" series. The second challenge, "Make a Positive Impact in Your Community," is designed to help educators, community leaders, and individuals have "thoughtful conversations on issues related to race and inequality."
On Jan. 13, Apple announced an expansion of its $100 million racial equality and justice initiatives, including a new innovation and learning hub for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.