Student Participation in Building the Learning Environment

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Join us for a panel discussion with both educators and students on the topic of "Student Participation in Building the Learning Environment."

Date: Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Time: 5pm Pacific / 8pm Eastern / 12am GMT (next day) (international times here)

Moderator Suzie Boss will lead a panel discussion with Connie Weber, Sylvia Martinez, Marcie Hull, Jane Krauss, and their students. The discussion will include:
  • How can we shape the learning space so that kids are able to take more of the lead on their own learning?
  • How does more active participation change how students see themselves--and the wider world?
  • How can we change the culture of school so that student participation is the norm?

Suzie Boss writes about education and social change for Edutopia, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and a variety of other publications. She is the co-author of Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age, and has developed youth programs in collaboration with a number of nonprofit organizations. She recently joined the National Faculty of the Buck Institute for Education and consults on the design of community-based projects that engage learners and enhance communities.

Sylvia Martinez is president of Generation YES, an educational publisher of innovative technology curriculum and tools that put students at the center of the solution to technology integration in K-12 schools. Generation YES students learn technology skills in order to assist their teachers, peers and community as they work to integrate 21st century technology into classrooms and communities. Previous to Generation YES, Sylvia programmed and designed educational games and software for consumer and school markets. For 8 years she was executive producer at Davidson & Associates, the makers of Math Blaster, and designed games for all subjects and ages. She’s also been in charge of console and PC casual game design for adults and children, working in all aspects of design, development, manufacturing and publishing. She has a master's in educational technology from Pepperdine University and a bachelor's in electrical engineering from UCLA.

Connie Weber has been a teacher for 30 years. Education: “Teaching as a Psychological Process” program at University of Michigan; Masters Ed Psych UM, currently working on a Educational Leadership Masters. Connie has taught upper-elementary in independent schools throughout her career. Emphasis on innovative curricular design in which students play a large part in determining their own learning; central theme of “learning how to learn,” which includes open-ended assignments, problem-based learning, development of self-discipline, creative expression, and reflective awareness in learning. Connie enjoys using an online network for student empowerment in writing, multimedia productions, and ongoing connection and extension. Networked learning communities both F2F and online.

Connie has been involved in teacher professional development and evaluation for twenty years. Honoree in the American Teacher Awards elementary division, 1996, awards selector through 2006. Appearances in Creativity in the Classroom: professional development videotapes/guidebooks created by Harvard Project Zero and Disney Learning Partnership. Teacher Leader, formation of a school-based group of reflective practitioners; also soccer coach; director of summer outdoors camp. Connie designed and manages Fireside Learning, an on-line global professional network for educational conversations.

Marcie Hull is the Technology Coordinator, fine arts teacher and technology teacher for the Science Leadership Academy (SLA), in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She received her fine arts training along with obtaining her K-12 art teaching certificate and art history minor at Temple’s, Tyler School of Art. A year spent in Italy after college gained her more experience with paint and paining techniques. Marcie returned home and began working for the School District of Philadelphia in 2000. She quickly became a Technology Teacher Leader and developed a reputation as a proponent for technology development in her school for teachers and students. She was able to finish her masters for Technology in Education at Rosemont College in a year and a half. During this time Marcie also obtained a K-12 Pennsylvania Business Technology certification. She went on to become an adjunct professor for Rosemont College, in their Technology in Education Department. Spring of 2006 Marcie was hired and became part of the founding staff of Science Leadership Academy. Spring of 2008 Marcie became a Keystone teacher. She currently writes a blog located at, where she reflects upon the development of SLA and posts her thoughts and opinions about trends in education.

Jane Krauss is an education writer and teacher and a director on the board of SpringBoard Innovation.

Location: In Elluminate. Log in at The Elluminate room will be open up to 30 minutes before the event if you want to come in early.

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Recordings of the session will be posted within a day of the event.

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I'm really hoping I'll be able to join this event tomorrow, as all of my work over the last two decades has been in this arena. In 1991 I had the wonderful opportunity to be one of a 5 member planning team opening a new high school, specifically designed as a "world class, 21st century" educational environment. After 11 years there, I founded another small high school in southwestern New Hampshire (that is now a program of the larger traditional area high school). Over the past years I've learned a lot from our teachers, students and families, as well as the community partners who've joined us in our work. (The school web site is and our learning structures are documented in a work-in-progress wiki at
I am now involved with a statewide initiative in New Hampshire developing and supporting processes for high school students to earn credit (toward graduation) through learning outside traditional classrooms. As we move into our third year with this initiative (and as the initiative is expanded through its funder, the Nellie Mae Educational Foundation, into Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island), I am continually struck by the supports that TEACHERS need to make the transition from traditional pedagogy to facilitative practice. The biggest challenge comes in the deeply ingrained beliefs about who can learn and how much, not just in how and where.
Meanwhile, our after-school partners are fantastic. They bring a developmental perspective on students (which educators tend to lose somewhere in middle school, from my experience), along with a collaborative culture that isn't common in most schools ("mother hen syndrome" in elementary, and "territorial division of instructional responsibility" in high school).
Looking forward to the panel discussion!
Looking forward to the
In may case, I've go ideas but lacks funds to do it:( I have the passion like you do, yet hindered by financial constraints?
What an exciting topic! I've found that students' enthusiasm to participate more in the online environment has been the biggest and most effective force to push through the resistance that can sometimes come from skeptical faculty members who are more comfortable in a face-to-face setting.

Looking forward to joining the discussion!
This is out of my time-zone (middle of the night in Qatar) however I am very interested in this. Question: can we look at a repeat or sequel in a different time-zone. It seems that many of these Future of Education sessions block out Europe and the Middle east. Let's make this completely global. Just making an observation.....Let's make this completely global.

Julie Lindsay
Dang! So, there will be a recording, but I like your idea of a repeat/sequel. Now that we're headed into summer we may not need to be so conscious of holding these in the US evenings after school is out here. Ping me and let's set something up!
Thanks to all who participated, especially panelists and your students. Loved hearing their ideas.
Lots of good questions in the chat, and sorry we didn't have time to get to them all. Please continue the conversation here.
Thanks, Suzie--it was a blast. I love having the opportunity for students to hear and respond to educators' questions. They also have some questions for the educators... We can open that avenue of discourse up as well.
You did a great job of orchestrating the whole thing. Thank you so much!
Student participation in learning is very essential as they being the receivers of the education and the methods which are employed by us, we need to run things by them to ensure that they see what we thought was a good method to follow.

Letting kids decide the mode of learning might be one way to start on a more productive way for kids to be involved in the teaching arena.


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