Roughly 200 North Vancouver students recently gathered for a one-day conference focused on enhancing student voice in the public school system.
"It's a topic that is close to students' hearts," said David Wilson, grade 12 student at Argyle Secondary and co-president of the North Vancouver School District's District Student Leadership Council (DSLC). "What we are learning is really important to us. Students want to know why they are learning what they are learning."
The DSLC organized the conference – titled Ed-YOU-cation – to support initiatives already underway in the school district geared at making education more meaningful for students. Educational terms and approaches such as 'experiential learning', 'place-based learning', 'project-based learning', and 'inquiry' are all aimed at making learning more deep and significant for students.
"If you connect learning with real world experiences, it's more valuable to students and prepares them for the future," said Sarah Kim, grade 12 student at Handsworth Secondary and co-president of DSLC.
"Student focused learning is the key," said Justine Mok, grade 12 student at Carson Graham Secondary and an executive member of DSLC.
Referring to the conference, Ebi Mir-Mohammadsadeghi, grade 12 student at Handsworth Secondary and an executive member of DSLC, added: "I see this as making education about us."
Throughout the conference, students tackled four questions:
- How could schools be designed to prepare us for the 'real world'?
- How do we help our schools become more learning focused and less grading focused?
- How can we make assessment and feedback more meaningful?
- What changes would you propose to help schools increase student ownership of our own learning and be more student-centered?
Each question was introduced via a student presentation, which was followed by round-table discussions. During the roundtables, each table was provided with an iPad where they collated their discussions into tweets with specific hashtags. The DSLC executive team is gathering the tweets into a spreadsheet and will present the results back to conference attendees and to the North Vancouver Board of Education.
"It's really important to give students an opportunity to speak up and have their voices heard," said Kim. "This conference provides us the opportunity to give insight and feedback into initiatives that the school district is, or might, pursue to enhance our educational experience."
The Ed-YOU-cation conference attracted students from all seven secondary schools in the North Vancouver School District, as well as several groups of grade seven students from elementary schools. It was completely organized and run by students.