Student-Led Unconference

Students prepare and lead workshops about things they are passionate about for others students of any age to join and learn from.

Photo of Edwin Lagos
15 26

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Unconferences are teacher-led events where anyone can sign up lead to lead a workshop to teach other teachers something they are passionate about. This creates a great setting for discussion, exchanging or ideas and innovation among teachers. 

Students can be given the same chance to teach others about a topic they are passionate about and have students from all ages (1-12) join in. 

At the end of a workshop participants can create an action plan to work together towards solving a problem in that area or towards working together to create something. 

Steps:

1. Pick a day/half day for a student-led unconference.

2. Help student-leaders prepare for leading workshops about topics that they are passionate about. These workshop can be focused on things they would like to present that they have worked on before. They could also pose a problem they would like to tackle with other students so that collaboratively they can try to work on it during the workshop and afterwards. Ex. "I would like to make an app for X." Anyone that joined that unconference would then become part of a team that can try to build it. 

3. Let other students sign up for workshops about things they are curious to learn more about.

4. Create action plans within each workshop for how to collaborate, problem-solve and create. 

How does this idea help to spark student curiosity?

Student workshops will expose students to thinking from all ages as well as to subjects that they might have never heard of before.

What grade level is this idea most appropriate for?

  • All of the above

Evaluation results

11 evaluations so far

1. Do you love this idea?

Yes! I love it. - 100%

15 comments

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Photo of dji
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http://floridalotteryfl.com/

Photo of Kevin
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FYI folks, the expansion of this into 7th grade is going so incredibly well...we are getting unsolicited emails from excited parents sharing how their children are enjoying school so much...the enthusiasm is positively infectious...if anyone wants to drill down on this further, please just ask here, email me, or hit up Glenn Robbins, our middle school principal, at grobbins@ncs-nj.org!

Photo of Edwin
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Would definitely love to hear more. It sounds amazing. What's your email Kevin?

Photo of Kevin
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I'm kjarrett@ncs-nj.org - let's connect!

Photo of Alexa
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I love this idea as a sub-hack. Things to do when a classroom teacher is absent.

Photo of Charles
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I do too!  Great idea!  For what it's worth, Kevin Jarrett and Glenn Robbins have been playing with student-lead EdCamps a bit at their school. Check it out: http://blogs.ncs-nj.org/grobbins/2016/01/24/student-led-edcamp-period-takes-ncms-to-new-heights/

Photo of Edwin
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Wow! Seems like they've had a great time doing this. I really like that it's integrated into the day, makes it be part of the school culture rather than just a one-off event. Thanks for sharing!

Photo of Jessica
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Edwin,
I love this idea. I am toying with organizing a student2student conference, which I envision would have similar components. Can you explain further what you mean by step 4-- the action plans? How do you envision this happening? Would the student presenter be given advice on how to do this?

Photo of Edwin
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Jessica,

In the spirit of helping students ask more questions, rather than answer teacher's questions only, workshops can end with picking one question to tackle as a group. The action plan would then be a way for students to work together to answer their own questions.

Student presenters could give a question they have for the group to tackle or a discussion during the workshop would be used to pose questions to tackle.

Thoughts?

Photo of Jessica
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What age students are you thinking about targeting this toward? I think that would impact students' abilities to generate a question for the whole group to think about and try and solve.

Photo of Edwin
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You bring up a good point. Perhaps there's not always a question to get answered. Some groups might want to just further investigate possibilities within the topic being presented.

Regardless, this could be done at any age but the scope and depth would change depending the level of understanding from a specific group of students on any particular topic. A 10 year old that knows lots about cars could ask deeper questions than a 17 year old that knows little about them.

Photo of Jessica
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Definitely! I just find that some students are better at engaging an audience than others (and older students tend to be better at it than younger).

Photo of Edwin
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This is another good point! Thanks for making me think about this and making try to validate the idea through different iterations.

That being said, we've organized TED talks with students at my school and part of what I loved was seeing students talking about something they were passionate and showcase things they did to solve problems. These types of talks seem so passive for the audience though, which is where I'm trying to have students solve a problem together.

So rather than these be workshops where students stand up and say something like "I created an awesome app, here's how it happened" how about "I want to create an awesome app, how do we do it as a group through this workshop and further?"

Do you think we can help students create a setting where they can spark others so they can all be problem-solvers together after being sparked by a provocative problem from another student? (This way the engaging an audience problem would also be somewhat alleviated)

Photo of Molly
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Hi Edwin! So as an adult....even I prefer the un-conference. Thanks for the quick plan on how to bring it to life. Also, have you checked out TED-Ed and their work helping set up TED clubs in schools?

http://ed.ted.com/clubs

Photo of Jessica
Team

Also, this is another model: http://www.giftedcalifornia.org/stu2stu/