For the past 28 years, Esther Wojcicki has been a Journalism/English teacher at Palo Alto High School, Palo Alto, CA where she built the journalism program from a small group of 20 students in 1985 to the largest high school journalism program in the United States winning major national and international recognition. The program has 590 students and is an elective program. It is an example of the power and effectiveness of Project Based Learning using journalism as tool to get students engaged. Engagement is the key to learning. Students learn critical thinking skills, writing skills, and Web 2.0 skills in the classes that include 590 students, five journalism teachers, and six award-winning journalism electives including the following:
a newspaper (The Campanile) , a news magazine, Verde, an online site (http://voice.paly.net), daily television (InFocus), and a sports magazine, Viking. The publications have won Gold and Silver Crowns from Columbia Scholastic Press Association, the PaceMaker Award and Hall of Fame Award from National Scholastic Press, and best in nation from Time Magazine in 2003. The website was honored with two Webby Awards in 2005.
She is V-Chair of the Board of Creative Commons and a strong advocate of the “Blended Classroom” and Open Education Resources (OER) using Creative Commons licensing. She is a 2009 MacArthur Foundation Research Award recipient for the Student Journalism 2.0 project. She was chosen as California 2002 California Teacher of the Year (by Commission on Teacher Credentialing) and awarded the Gold Key Award by Columbia University for excellence in teaching and given the Charles O’Malley Award by Columbia. She has been consultant for Carnegie Foundation and Hewlett Foundation and a blogger for Huffington Post. In 2010 she was awarded a Knight Foundation Grant to create a 21st Century Literacy curriculum that targets ninth grade English language classrooms. In June, 2012, she was speaker at the G20Summit talking about the power of technology to transform teaching and learning.