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Sharing Student Voice: Students Presenting at Conferences

Sharing Student Voice: Students Presenting at Conferences

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This 10 page whitepaper contains practical tips for teachers working with students to present at conferences.

* Top Ten Tips for Student Presenters
* Balancing the needs of the audience with the needs of students
* Research on student voice, 21st Century skills and student empowerment
* How to plan and submit sessions with student presenters
* Maintaining student ownership and authentic student voice
* Logistics tips for bigger conferences and exhibit halls
* The role of the teacher
This 10 page whitepaper contains practical tips for teachers working with students to present at conferences.

* Top Ten Tips for Student Presenters
* Balancing the needs of the audience with the needs of students
* Research on student voice, 21st Century skills and student empowerment
* How to plan and submit sessions with student presenters
* Maintaining student ownership and authentic student voice
* Logistics tips for bigger conferences and exhibit halls
* The role of the teacher

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Published by: Sylvia Libow Martinez on Sep 16, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/15/2010

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Sharing Student Voice: StudentsPresenting at Conferences
Bringing local success to a wider audience
By Sylvia Martinez, M.A.
Empowering students to make a difference canbring rewards to both the students and thecommunity at large. Students who learn tocollaborate with adults, present their ideas inconstructive ways, and take action can beeffective spokespeople for themselves, theirpeers, their school, and their community.Events that take students out of their localenvironment, such as educational conferencesare often offered as a way that adults cansupport student voice. These events presentopportunities to spread your message beyondthe local community to reach new and wideraudiences. Students, as future citizens of theworld, can gain perspective on their ownactions and how their contributions are valuedby others. Conference attendees can beinspired by your students to implementprograms that encourage student voice in theirown schools.Enabling student voice is more than simply“listening“ to students. While it is tempting tothink that the act of students speaking at aconference enables student voice, it isdependent on the students having something authentic to share with the audience.It might be more effective to think of conference presentations as “sharing” student voice, rather than enabling it.
This guide
This guide is intended to provide teachers withpractical tips on including students in planning and presenting at educational conference-typeevents with primarily adult audiences. Weassume that you have students involved inauthentic, student-led projects that enablestudent voice, such as Generation YESprograms, where students improve technologyuse in their own schools by working withteachers and peers.
© 2008 GENERATION YES www.genyes.com page 1
Generation YES (Youthand EducatorsSucceeding)studentsprovidetechnicalsupport, peermentoring,leadership andsupport fortechnologyprofessionaldevelopmentin thousandsof schoolsacross theU.S. andaround theworld.
GENERATION YES
   Y  o  u   t   h  a  n   d   E   d  u  c  a   t  o  r  s   S  u  c  c  e  e   d   i  n  g
 
Why Encourage Student Voice
research and common sense
Student voice
Students develop an authentic voice as they participate increating change at the local level. For adults, enabling student voice is a long-term commitment to guide andempower the next generation.
“Student voice is the individual andcollective perspective and actions of young  people within the context of learning andeducation.” - Soundout Foundation
Student voice is about action, not words. Students areempowered through their participation in personallymeaningful projects, and develop a “voice” by being included and listened to. While participation in adultactivities such as a conference is not a required componentof enabling student voice, most student voice advocates seek to integrate students more fully into society at large.Creating opportunities for students to participate side-by-side with adults means that students have the chance toreally understand what it means to be part of a communitythat is beyond a typical classroom experience. By learning tospeak, act, and think as part of a team, students can expandtheir identities beyond “student” and experience themselvesas members of a community without regard to age. Byfacilitating as many of these opportunities as possible, wegive youth the tools and experience they need to beengaged, effective citizens in the future.
Making meaning
It is tempting to view any youth participation in adultactivities as important and meaningful. However, this is acondescending view of student voice as simply precociousentertainment. We should be wary of any attempt tosimply trot children out at conferences and thencongratulate ourselves for listening to student voice. Butas part of a continuous process of authentic engagement,students presenting to adult audiences can be ameaningful experience for everyone involved.There is evidence from a broad range of school settingsthat students can participate meaningfully as agents of positive change at both the classroom and school levels.Calvert
1
maintains that this fits the current trend ineducational research focusing on school climate, socialconditions, and school culture. These are importantfactors for positive student learning environments andgood working conditions for teachers. These trends alsosupport research from educational psychology
2
thatincreasing student autonomy, membership, and agencyleads to higher engagement and academic achievement.Cook-Sather’s
3
research that students not only have theknowledge and position to shape what counts ineducation, but they also can help change power dynamicsand create new forums for change by learning how tospeak out on their own behalf in a variety of arenas andon a range of issues.
 Act locally, speak globally 
There are no more global thinkers than children. Theynaturally want to “change the world” and their youthfulidealism can be both invigorating and challenging toharness into useful activity. As youth engage in activitiesthat produce change, a savvy teacher or leadercan engagethem in the reflective processes that result in clarifying their own ideas and attitudes towards that change. Youth voice, as it emerges from action, can be a powerful forcefor both the child and the community. Democracy dependson informed citizens who believe that they can make adifference and that their voice counts.Students presenting at a conference can be a part of thiscontinuous, reflective practice. This guide is a practicalway to plan these activities and maximize the potentialbenefit to the students involved.
“Give the pupils something to do, notsomething to learn; and the doing is of sucha nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” - John Dewey 
© 2008 GENERATION YES www.genyes.com page 2
   G   E   N   E   R   A   T   I   O   N   Y   E   S
 
Net generation
Students are part of a digital generation -- they havegrown up with computers and technology in their livesand need to be prepared for a digital world. However,schools are often not meeting students needs when itcomes to use of technology.
4
Students are asking theirschools to provide more opportunities to use technologyto learn, and their voices need to be heard. In turn, adultsneed to teach appropriate use of these new tools.Generation YES programs specifically invite students tobecome part of the effort in schools today to improvelearning with technology.By asking students to participate in meaningful dialog about technology use, and allowing them to share their views with a wider audience, we not only gain theirinsight and experience, but we show students how theireducation is relevant for the world today.
“By listening tostudents’ voices,educators canlearn how schools andclassrooms canbe morerelevant.” -Dennis Harper 
5
 Web 2.0, the read/write web, also opens up a range of new opportunities and options for student voice toflourish. Blogs, wikis, and podcasts can allow students tocreate an online presence that rivals any newspaper ormedia outlet. Syndication technology (RSS) allows usercreated and user defined feeds for targeted information.Students can achieve more control of both theinformation they access, and the information theydistribute than ever before. Students can connect withother like-minded organizations or get expert help fromanywhere around the globe.However, while Web 2.0 technology can also helpstudents reach beyond the walls of their classroom,addressing an audience face-to-face provides a differentand complementary set of learning opportunities andchallenges. There is no “one way” to enable student voice, nor is there “one way” to share it. Including students in the decisions on how and where to share their voice, whether online or face-to-face, will encouragestudent ownership of the process.
21st century skills
Students in today’s schools enter a different world thanthat of their parents. “21st century skills” have come tomean the skills beyond traditional core subject areasincluding:learning and thinking skills such as problem solving,creativity, and collaborationcivic, cultural and global awarenesslife skills such as ethics and leadershiptechnology, information and media literacyBy participating in an adult event such as an educationalconference, students get a glimpse of a world that ischanging and learning. School and education are notpermanently fixed objects and they are not cogs in anunbending wheel. Students may see teachers in a newlight, as learners hoping to transform the world byimproving education.By including studentsin this world of educationalimprovement, they can visualize their ownability to transform it,their own lives, and thelives of others.Back in the classroom,this experience can empower students to reach beyondthe walls of their school and think beyond the next test.Reinforcing the belief that their voice and their actions,are important, necessary, and valued creates students whowill go beyond a class assignment and be empoweredglobal citizens of the 21st century.
© 2008 GENERATION YES www.genyes.com page 3
1
 
Calvert, M. (2002, April). Raising voices in school: The impact of  young decision-makers on schools and youth organizations. Paperpresented at the annual meeting of the American EducationalResearch Association, New Orleans.
2
 
Larson, R. W. (2000). Toward a psychology of positive youthdevelopment. American Psychologist, 55(1), 170-183.
3
 
Cook-Sather, A. (2002). Authorizing students’ perspectives: Towardtrust, dialogue, and change in education. Educational Researcher,31(4), 3-14.
4
 
Pew Internet & American Life Project (2002). The DigitalDisconnect: The widening gap between Internet-savvy students andtheir schools. American Institutes for Research
5
 
Harper, D.O., "Students as Change Agents", Book Chapter,Technology-Rich Learning Environments: A Future Perspective,Edited by Myint Swe Khine & Darrell Fisher, World Scientific Press,2003, pp. 307-329.

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