Middle Grades Students Continue to Amaze Me


A couple weeks ago, we hosted our second annual international conference on iPads in the Primary Grades. Like last year, we had a core of student reporters from Auburn Middle School tweeting each of the sessions.

We were a little taken aback when one of our keynoters, Jennie Magiera, Digital Learning Coordinator for the Academy for Urban School Leadership in Chicago, came to us quite upset that we hadn't leveraged one of our best resources.

It took us a minute to realize she was talking about our Middle School students. “Have you talked to them?!” she asked with passion! She had just spent an extended period of time talking with them, asking about their tweeting, what they thought about the conference, and what they were learning.

We knew they were doing a great job tweeting from the sessions (we were watching the twitter stream), but we hadn't had the kind of conversation with the students that Jennie had. “They have amazing views on their learning, on what it means to be asked to report on the conference, on primary students using iPads, and on Customized Learning!” she chastised. “Why aren't they doing a keynote?!”

Jennie is high energy (in a good way!) and it's hard to say no when someone makes so much sense. So we made a half hour during one of our keynotes for 3 of the students to be in a panel facilitated by Jennie.

And we were blown away by what they said!

In addition to the keynote, Jennie asked each of the students to blog about their experience tweeting the conference, and even had them do a Google Hangout with some of her teachers back in Chicago. You can read those posts and see the screencast of the Hangout here.

It is way too easy to forget that middle grades students have (useful) opinions about their learning and the world around them, if we are only smart enough to ask them! Thanks to Jennie for reminding us.


If you're interested…



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3 Responses to “Middle Grades Students Continue to Amaze Me”

  1. Mary Callan Says:

    I am so excited by this post and look forward to learning more about it! Thanks Mike…

  2. Ed Brazee Says:

    Interesting how we have talked for eons about moving to a student-centered focus in school instead of teacher-centered…but find it VERY difficult to do so. Is that because of varying definitions of what student-centered means…from very little student-centeredness to a great deal where students are active parts of their learning? No surprise that that is where they want to be. Thanks, Mike, for the reminder, the gentle push, and the excellent resources. BTW, I listened to Jennie M’s keynote where she talks about not just integrating technology, but redefining our classroom practice. Well worth listening to her keynote.

  3. If It Sounds Crazy, That’s Probably Not How They’re Doing It | Multiple Pathways Says:

    […] I'm working with had a staff meeting where we talked with middle grades students what had been student reporters at a conference focused on Customized Learning and […]

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