Empowering Students Through Sharing

This is part 1 of a 4 part series about how student engagement increases when students share their learning.

When students are provided an opportunity to publicly share their knowledge about something they have learned, they are given more opportunity to take ownership of their work, which demonstrates that it has value, and many also see their self-esteem increase as they take pride in their work and their sharing.

Authentic public presentations of learning may also lead to increased student engagement, which is why a campaign called Share Your Learning was formed. The campaign’s focus is on encouraging teachers, schools, districts, and organizations, to commit to public presentations of student learning. But what are authentic public presentations of learning? We will be featuring stories from teachers around the country who, with their students, are answering that very question.

The Power of Student-Led Conferences

We are all familiar with the traditional method of conferences, a parent and a teacher gather to discuss a student’s progress. While parent/teacher meetings are important for many reasons, equally important is providing students with the chance to tell their own learning story to their parents and community.

Fifth-grade teacher, Camille Nunnenkamp, has firsthand experience with student-led conferences. Camille is in her fifth year of teaching at Lake Elementary, which is part of Vista Unified School District, in Oceanside, California. Oceanside is located in North County San Diego. Lake Elementary is a large neighborhood school which serves a diverse population with over 15 languages spoken. She is continually looking for high-quality engaging experiences for her students and knew that student-led conferences would give her students a sense of ownership and pride.

The Project

Before Camille’s students could share their work, they needed to develop a product. She explained, “my students created digital portfolios using Google Sites to highlight the learning they had done in the first trimester to share at their Student Led Conference with their family.” Camille’s students each created a digital portfolio with sections for Reading, Writing, Math, Social/Emotional, Habits of Mind, and PBL. Within each section, students dove deeper into their goals and talked about their learning progression throughout the first trimester. This included answering whether they met their goal and their self-made action plan for the second trimester based on their first-trimester goal.

The Conferences

The student-led conferences took place over the course of four days, and students prepared by building out their digital portfolios. Camille shared that the “Digital Portfolios are a work in progress and will be a continued reflection and showcase of learning throughout their time as a 5th grader in my class.”

“It was important for me to have my students share their learning because as a teacher I want my students to take ownership of their learning and where they are in the progression of learning. By taking ownership and creating an action plan to be successful students develop agency and become the drivers in their learning. I also believe it is important to have my students share their learning with their families because, with so many changes in education, education looks much different now, then when their parents were in school”

Camille asked her student’s this question and they responded:

“I think it is important to share my digital portfolio at my student-led conference because it helps parents and students remember or learn what you have learned during the school year. I also think our digital portfolios are important because we can keep working on them at anytime.”

“I think sharing our digital portfolios at student-led conferences helps people understand the learning we are doing and why we are doing it. We also make goals and that helps us be successful at school.”

“I think it is important to share our digital portfolios so our parents are educated on the learning we are doing. We have goals to help us know how to be successful. Our goals are important because we know what we need to work on in every subject (reading, writing, math, etc.). This is why it’s important to share our learning!”

Get Involved

This is just one way that students can share their learning, be sure to visit www.shareyourlearning.org for ideas on how to bring exhibitions and presentations of learning into your classroom.

Are you using these practices already? We’d love to hear how your school or classroom is publically sharing student learning:

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Janice Walton

Janice is passionate about ensuring equity and access in education and the majority of her career has been spent advocating for increased opportunities for educators and their students, specifically in the areas of teacher leadership, global education and STEM.

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