Students Presenting to Students: The Dragon Tech Summit Experience

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Congratulations to the students and staff at Pine City, MN High School for organizing and hosting the Dragon Student Tech Summit on Sept. 19. Thank you for inviting me to share BreakoutEDU with students and staff. A big shout out goes to Dihanna Fedder, Pine City's amazing Technology InteGREATionist (@DLFedder). 

I LOVE this idea and want to see it repeated at other schools. Check out the link to the Summit, to find out more about the event itself, but here is a run down from my perspective.

I arrived at 11:15 for a "Presenters" lunch. There were about 6-8 adult presenters (including me) and 20 students from Pine City that were there to present to their peers. We ate lunch together, had informal conversations between students and adults about what presenting would be like, a few tips on how to handle the unexpected situations that arise, and just getting to know one another. It was the perfect way to begin the day.

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Students then arrived to the auditorium where Ben Friesen (@benjaminfriesen), from EdTech Team, gave a humorous Keynote with an empowering message for students. After the Keynote, students were split in half. The first group stayed for a panel discussion dealing with use of technology in education and digital citizenship. The other group then went on their way to breakout sessions which they were able to choose, just like a professional conference. The groups then switched. The first went to the breakouts, the second to the panel discussion.

I presented the BreakoutEDU game "A Case of the Mondays" to 2 separate groups. First a junior high age group. They did well, but near the end started getting frustrated with each other and some bickering began. I ran out of time to do a full debrief in which we could have discussed some of the group dynamics that took place. Needless to say, they didn't breakout. The second group was  high school age kids. All but one student was really into it, and I think they had a lot of fun working through solutions to the clues and locks. They broke out with 10 seconds to spare. Well done!

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What a great opportunity to for the students who presented. I wish I would have been able to sit in on their presentations, but I was presenting my self. I love how they fed the student presenters, gave them swag and treated them like VIPs. I loved that students attendees had Choice in the sessions they wanted to attend = #ChaseCuriosity. I loved that they brought in a Keynote to fire up the crowd. I admire their admin for giving up "classroom" time to take a risk with holding a less structured event. I appreciate the Pine City Teaching staff for attending sessions with students to model learning and growth opportunity. I loved the innovation this conference showed and allowed the students to experience. It was not just engaging, but empowering.

There are few things, now that I've seen a Student Tech Summit that I would like to see different. First, I would like there to be an option for students to go to more than 1 breakout, perhaps shorten the presentation to 1/2 hour sessions instead of 1 hour. Second, I feel there should have been a culminating event at the end of the conference, perhaps with door prizes. Third, make it a possibility for presenters to attend other sessions, perhaps if more session times were offered, a presenter could present once and attend 2-3 others. Finally, I'd like to know if this is an annual event, or something to offer a couple times per year.

Next step. Bring the concept to Milaca and other schools. I'm going to begin trying to make this happen. Stay Tuned. I think I found my next curiosity to chase.