But how about planning a one day ‘conference’ on a theme that’s relevant to everyone? Or a grade level ‘conference’ day as a provocation for a new unit of inquiry? What do you think? Can you help me develop the idea further?
Then another teacher took the idea and ran with it. I read that post too. Then I got to thinking about how I like conferences and wouldn’t it be great to do this. I got my grade level team interested and we were off. Well, not off quickly, but it was towards the end of the year and we were knee-deep in projects. But, this Wednesday, day 11 of the school year with back to school night the next day, we did it. We had a conference for the 5th grade.
It was fantastic and exhausting!
Our topic was: Who owns history? There were 3 sessions times, each with a theme: misinterpretation, artifacts, and story. During each session time there were 3-4 options for students. On Monday we introduced the idea to the students and they registered online using this google form. On Tuesday we finalized the groups and logistics, oh and finished planning all our sessions. When students arrived on Wednesday they went to the “registration table” to sign in and get their personalized session schedules and name tags just like at a real conference.
There are 3 sections and 56 students in fifth grade this year. For each session students mixed and remixed as they moved around. Some sessions were bigger than others and all could have used more time, but there was enthusiasm to spare and good learning happening too. As we had planned and organized sessions, we made sure that the big ideas we wanted to get across under each theme could come out in each class.
My personal sessions were as follows:
- In Session 1: Misinterpretations– who is the hero and who is lost?
- In Session 2: Artifacts–Egyptian artifact role play. Where do the artifacts belong?
- In Session 3: Story–How can buildings and plants tell a story?
We ended with a quick gathering to share thoughts, show the students the evaluation form that we emailed to them to fill out, and to celebrate an exciting morning.
I was so exhilarated by the morning (that and a bit ragged). Once I go through the responses to the evaluation form I will share some highlights or lowlights as the case may be. I think the overall feeling of the morning was very positive. Next up, student led sessions, outside experts, TED talks, and new topics!
What new ideas have you heard or read about and then borrowed?