Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The More I Let Go, the More I Get Back

Five of my freshmen and sophomores chose to spend their third day of summer break in school with me.

It wasn't our school, but it was a high school.
They weren't the students, they were the teachers.

We collaborated in person and from home on a Google Doc to design an experiential workshop for the CPS Educational Excellence Institute in which teachers heard why they preferred to learn and produce unique media based projects with their mobile devices.  On the right side of the screenshot of our initial brainstorm you can see that all of us were editing and creating on the same document.  I found that the more I let them drive the content, the more detailed the list became.

The result was this presentation, which we also created collaboratively using Google Drive.
Click here to see the whole presentation!

During the actual event, in addition to explaining the reasons they liked a paperless history class this year and demonstrating some of their favorite tools, they also interacted with attendees via backchannel.  Click here to check out the TodaysMeet. Here's a taste:

I bet you can't definitively decide exactly which backchannel participants are the teenagers and which are the professional educators. I wish I had taken pictures of them.  They were amazing.  Once I just got out of their way, the session became more engaging and interesting for everyone in the room.

This is only my third time presenting alongside my students.  (The first was in December 2013 and the second was in April 2014.)  Each time it has been a different group of students so that as many of them as possible can have a voice in education policy. Each time I have let go a bit more and given the students a higher level of control over how they want to structure their message and deliver it.  The presentations have become less about my classroom and more about their learning.

As I attend more conferences this summer I've noticed many administrators, "thought leaders", and teachers talking about putting students first, but there are no students present.  If students are really the number one consideration, shouldn't their perspective be more at the forefront of education conferences?