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1 Thing Every School Could Do Today to Foster Engagement

When schools create opportunities for students to explain what they learn, instead of always evaluating what they're supposed to know or learn - everything changes.

Immediately the student is at the center;

And their learning is valued; their voices heard.

They can reflect. They take ownership.

And they become agents of their own learning.

It is the very simple practice of creating a space where students explain to educators what they are (or are not) learning that every school and teacher could begin to foster true learner engagement. Because, even if the learning doesn't necessarily align directly to the content being presented, the student has taken on the cognitive load of conveying what they have indeed learned, regardless of expectations.

Clark Street Community School's Student Gallop Poll results show an upward trend line with regards to student engagement that bucks both district and national trends.

At Clark Street Community School one of the many ways we engage learners is through formal presentations of learning at the end of each school semester. Students opt for one of three formats; interactive displays, round-table discussions, and formal presentations to present their learning. In each of these formats students show their peers, teachers, parents, and community members what it is they learned throughout the semester. Whatever it is.

No topics are provided. No content standards are assessed.

The expectations and assessments, instead, focus on process and reflection. The students determine the content.

And the content is diverse.

From Shakespearean analyses to eye-opening field trips, from great books to surprising documentaries, each student identifies something that mattered to them. They often discuss difficult personal struggles, challenges, rewards, new insights, and failures. Each student, in their own unique ways, shows us, the educators, families, and community audiences what matters to them, how they grew or stagnated, and what they took from their experience. Ultimately they teach us through their stories of growth and stagnation, surprise and delight, hardships, headaches, and heroes, what it means to be learners.

Created by CSCS student, Madison Huntington, this compilation of Clark Street Community School's Winter 2017 Presentations of Learning, offers a sampling of the kind of engagement we experience by offering student a formal opportunity and an authentic audience to share their learning over the past semester.

And although the content of our presentations is varied, and very often unexpected, there's a common thread throughout.

Each and every student, regardless of their mastery of public speaking, continually wows the audience with their courage, candidacy, authenticity and audacity. And most importantly they wow us with their gratitude for what they have learned.


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2429 Clark St, Middleton, WI 53562, USA

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