This is part three of a four-part series about how student engagement increases when students share their learning.
Around the country, teachers have committed to sharing their students’ learning. Through student-led conferences, exhibitions, and presentations of learning, teachers recognize the value of making learning public. In our first two posts in this series, we learned how an elementary school teacher and an organization are working to make student learning public. We recently put out an open call to teachers to learn how they are sharing student learning, and were thrilled with the responses. We’ve compiled the top eight reasons teachers and students believe their work should be shared, and we hope their experiences inspire you to join the Share Your Learning movement.
Why They Share
1. Kate Fox is the School Director, and middle and high school English teacher, at an independent mixed-age learning center in New York. At her school, student-led conferences and a student showcase happen three times per year as authentic assessment and celebration of the learning for each trimester. She shared, “we have found that including parents and community members in our learning celebrations and assessments mean that students are more engaged, more excited to demonstrate learning, more motivated to do their best work, and are able to do so with joy and pleasure.” We love that Kate was transparent in sharing that students, “are not as excited about Student-Led Conferences, but generally feel good about their learning after the conference. When your parents and teachers meet with you to talk about YOU, students feel supported and cared for in their learning.” These practices can take time for students to feel comfortable, but one of the keys to success as Kate mentions is making sure students know you care about their learning and want them to highlight it in their own words.
2. Rachelle Dene Poth teaches Spanish and STEAM classes to 8-12th graders at a school in suburban Pennsylvania, she said her students “love sharing what they are doing”. It helps her students “become more confident and they thought the opportunities to share took their learning to a whole new level.” She continued by saying, in sharing “the students know their work is valued, which makes their learning more meaningful.”
3. Amber Chandler teaches English Langauge Arts to eighth graders in Hamburg, NY. Her students wrote “I Believe” essays, and then created a Google slideshow to present to fellow students, families, friends, and administrators. She said at first most students thought a 5-minute presentation sounded “impossible,” and there were lots of pre-presentation anxiety, but the students “secretly loved having an audience.”
4. Kelly Petross is a 6-8th grade English Language Arts teacher in Phoenix, an 8th-grade student helped plan their first STEAM Showcase night and acted a the MC. She shared, “as a teacher, I see students are more motivated and take more pride in their work if they know it will be showcased. They work better in teams, and I see increased collaboration from all students during this time. I also think it is good for students to develop public speaking skills and be able to effectively communicate what they have created. This can be challenging, but with more practice, they become more confident and more articulate.”
5. At an elementary school in the suburbs of New York City, Christine Boyer teaches fifth grade and Christopher Casal is an instructional technology specialist. Their students have a Capstone Project where they “conduct independent research on a subject of their choice for approximately six weeks. They then share their learning through TED Talks and Ignite Presentations. They said, “it is important for us to have our students share their learning in a powerful platform as it elevates the quality of their work and depth of their investment. They recognize the value of having a voice and the responsibility that comes with that.”
6. In Oceanside, CA, Adrienne Villarreal teaches sixth-grade math and science. Her students did a Seismic Outreach Project, which was a collaboration with UCSD’s School of Engineering. Students exhibited at UCSD to engineering students and professors through a real shake table test (to see if their building could survive seismic activity) and interviews. She explained, “I see the exhibition as a celebration, and I told the students they should be proud of what they have accomplished! I think it is very reflective for them to go through that, and it builds their confidence as well. It is important for them to connect their learning through sharing with others, including their families and professionals/a real-world audience, whenever possible. It shows them they have a voice, and they are capable of producing meaningful, authentic, high-quality work.”
7. Erik Ray also teaches in Oceanside as a fourth-grade teacher. His students explored “What can fossils teach us about how life was like long ago, and the changes that have happened to Earth?” They did fieldwork at a nearby beach and learned that erosion is a key process in the uncovering of fossils. Students designed and created a fossil museum for the school community to visit. Featured at the museum were student’s sculptures, trading cards, and fossil stories. He said, “when my students know they will be presenting to a master gardener or holding a museum exhibition for everyone in our school to visit, they rise up to that challenge with commitment. The work they do is meaningful. It is real.” We found the student reflections that he shared to be powerful:
“We did not always need a teacher, because we knew our goal and could help each other.” – second-grade student
“I was so nervous, and I did not know I could do that.” – second-grade student
“It felt awesome sharing my work! I know that others care about what I am doing at school.” – fourth-grade student
8. Aleya Cunningham teaches first grade in Lakeside, CA and her students were exploring the question “How can we appreciate others?” Their culminating project was 18 posters that included a hand-drawn and watercolored portrait, an informative writing piece about the staff member, and a collage of pictures that represent the staff member/their interests. She said, “when students are held accountable for their learning, they own it. Everything they learn becomes much stickier and gives kids the agency that most classrooms do not promote. It is important for my students to see their capabilities with learning and how hard work can culminate into something great. It is also important for families and the community to see what students, regardless of their age, can create.” Aleya’s students shared:
“It made me happy to share my learning because they were giving me fist bumps and high fives.”
“It made me feel good to share my work, even though I was nervous. The best was when they liked my portrait because I worked hard on it.”
“Showing my work made me feel a bit scared because there were a lot of people there and I was scared…it made me feel in the yellow (excited) zone because I persevered.”
We’d love to know why it’s important for your students to share their learning. Join the conversation on social media using #ShareYourLearning and #iShare. Also be sure to commit to making student learning public by signing the pledge on www.shareyourlearning.org.
For more, see:
- How a Community Organization is Helping Students Find and Share Their Voice
- Empowering Students Through Sharing
This post includes mentions of a Getting Smart partner. For a full list of partners, affiliate organizations and all other disclosures please see our Partner page.