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Student Tech Team: Student Leadership in Action

2012 October 7
by Kim Cofino

One of my goals for this year is provide more opportunities for authentic student leadership, specifically in the tech support and training that we do with students and teachers. We have a very engaged and supportive learning community here at YIS, and in addition to our fantastic student councils at each division, we have a great opportunity to add more student leadership in an area where students are often the expert: technology.

Facilitating a Student Tech Team

Throughout my career as a teacher, I’ve always facilitated some sort of middle school student tech team. In some schools it’s been a hang-out time for students who enjoy spending more time with technology, in others it’s been more like an extra class where we have actual lessons, in other schools it’s turned into a movie making club or some other form of creative use of technology. In each school, of course, the dynamics of the community and the group of students have had an impact on how we spend our time.

Student tech team filming & reviewing a laptop responsibility video on the fly with an iPhone

Over the last two years at YIS, I’ve facilitated our Middle School Student Tech Team, and each year I’ve learned a ton from my students. My biggest take-away has been how much they want to share their expertise with others.

In my first year at YIS, the MS STT was a voluntary club, held after-school once a week. Because we had a majority of students in grade 6, who were learning about blogging in MYP Technology, we developed a STT blog. We used that space to share resources we found online, and to create a personalized one-on-one tech support for teachers during lunch or after school. Although we had some success with the teacher training, the after-school timing made it more difficult to stay focused and productive. Also, because the club was voluntary, we didn’t really have a true Middle School team (students were mostly from grade 6).

So, with the implementation of our Connected Learning Community last year, we have included a student representative (similar to a student council model) from every homeroom to create our MS STT. Having this equal representation from each homeroom has had a positive impact on the growth, the reputation and the skills set of our team.

So proud of our MS Student Tech Team members for leading teacher training today!Sometime in the middle of last school year, we realized one of the best ways for our team to share their knowledge was through tutorial videos. Each month, at our middle school assembly, the MS STT had at least one tutorial video to share. Of course, we had the blog from the year before, so that became the repository for all of our tutorial videos.

In fact, the MS STT became so good at creating tutorial videos, that they created the entire CLC Essentials for Students site with all of the training videos for our CLC Orientation this school year. This was a huge improvement to the way we introduced the laptops in our first year of the CLC, because now students can work at their own pace through a selection of student-created tutorials, and we had our MS STT lead the sessions at the beginning of the school year.

Now that we’re in our second year of the CLC, with a more established STT role in the school, thanks to their leadership in previous years, we’re ready to build in even more student leadership. During our first meeting this school year, I asked our team (of 17 students in grades 6 – 8) what they would like to do this school year, focusing on being more active leaders among the teachers, students and parents.

Here’s what we have planned:

Video Tutorials

The STT tutorials are popular with students and teachers, and having them all centrally located on our STT blog makes them easy to access. Our goal this year is to continue to help students become more efficient and effective with their technology use, prioritizing tasks and skills that we weren’t able to highlight last year when so many features of having a laptop were new to everyone.

So far this year:

  • Idan (grade 6) has created a tutorial on using Google Calendar to record homework,
  • Brian (grade 8) is working on one to show how to use Activity Manager effectively so that you can maximize the processing power of your laptop, and
  • Aiden (grade 6) is creating one for organizing and managing files in Google Drive.

All of these tutorials will premiere at the MS Assembly once a month, and then be added to our STT blog and the CLC Essentials for Students site.

Teach the Teachers

Our STT is really excited to start leading more training with teachers. They want to run sessions that will help teachers understand why they use technology the way they do, and to help teachers become more efficient and effective with what they do on their laptops.

So far this year, we’ve had students featured at our first SpeedGeeking event of the year:

Based on their success, they will be offering after school hands-on sessions to any teachers or students that are interested in learning more.

In addition to featuring students at our SpeedGeeking sessions, they’ve also come up with a number of hands-on sessions to run during lunch times and after school:

All of these will be offered to students and teachers, starting after our October break.

In addition to these group sessions, we’re also going to continue the one-on-one teacher support through a simple survey linked on our STT blog. Teachers can request a specific STT member, or topic, and a specific time to be trained. We keep track of all the training we’ve completed using a shared Google Spreadsheet.

CLC Orientation

MS Student Tech Team members teaching teachers during SpeedGeekingWe are very fortunate to have a 2-day orientation at the beginning of each school year. For the past two years, this has been primarily focused on introducing our Connected Learning Community. Next year will be our third year, so we would like to see more of a focus on team building and getting to know each other.

To support this more collaborative and social environment, we will have the STT lead the majority of our CLC-focused sessions. We have a team working on an a YIS Orientation iOS app, another team will work on developing age-appropriate activities, and another team updated and expanding the CLC Essentials for Students.

Supporting Parents

We have a very active and engaged parent community. A number of parents who regularly attend our Parent Technology and Literacy Coffee Mornings have requested one-on-one tech support. The first time I was asked, I thought maybe our superstar YIS-graduate tech support staffer, Kanna, could help. But then a few weeks ago, I was asked again, and thought it would be great to have a list of students willing to help, along with their specialties.

It was no surprise to me that when I shared this idea with the STT, they jumped at the chance! We’re just in the early stages of planning, but we’d like to have a central list of STT members (and others, if they’re interested, perhaps CAS students?) who would be willing to tutor parents in technology, along with a short bio, photo and their list of specialty areas.

Learning New Skills

Our whole team wants to learn more about technology. As we learn, we will teach each other. One of the teams is really excited about learning how to create an game for iOS devices (any experts out there? We’d love some help).

Final Thoughts

I’m really excited to see where this team will go! They have already organized themselves into sub-teams with leaders in each group who are responsible for reporting back to me on their progress. Each student is able focus on an area of personal interest or growth to add to our growing list of responsibilities. Already I’ve been impressed by the time and effort they have put in to each task – by our second week, the group had already asked for two meetings a week! Now we meet on Wednesday and Friday during lunch. I’ve also heard from other colleagues that whenever there is a tech problem in class, the STT members “swarm” in to help. It’s taken a few years to get this kind of energy about student tech leadership going, and we’re just going to keep on growing!

Do you have a student tech team at your school? What do they do? I would also love to see if we can collaborate with other student tech teams around the world – perhaps some Skyping to share tips? Or even starting some collaborative resources if we have similar school communities and needs? Interested?

Image Credits:

16 Responses leave one →
  1. Melanie permalink
    October 8, 2012

    We are about to start this at our school. This was a timely and helpful read. Thank you

  2. Scott Horan permalink
    October 11, 2012

    Kudos:
    The state of KY has for well over a decade run a program called Student Technology Leadership Program (STLP) with many of the same goals and activities in hundreds of schools K-12 statewide. The great thing about STLP is that it gets together once a year in a statewide gathering to both share and compete. Now that I am teaching in another state, I miss the great support and comraderie STLP offered. We have a program at our high school called the Student Help Desk that lets students fix computers, service teacher problems in the classroom and keep our many labs running!

    Great job, KIM!

    Let’s hear it for the concept of Student As Knowledge Worker! (credits to Phil Schlecty)

  3. October 17, 2012

    Thank you for sharing the video tutorials on the STT blog. These videos are going to make the rest of EDM 310 easier. The keynote videos are going to be very valuable when my final project is due. Please pass my gratitude on to your tech team. I think it is wonderful that they are starting to expand into helping other teachers and parents. The work they are doing is simply amazing and I can’t give them the amount of praise they deserve.

    Thanks again,

    Daniel Morgan
    Daniel Morgan´s last blog post ..Blog Post #7

  4. Darren permalink
    October 17, 2012

    I feel reinspired. You are miles ahead of me, my ideas. The conversations I am having, you had years ago.

    Your blog shows how you have grown as a professional. Congratulations!

    My poorly populated blog is being dusted down.

  5. Sarah Stack Feinberg permalink
    October 28, 2012

    Hi Kim,
    I am doing a project with another person and we like some of your slideshare presentations. We would like to use some of your slides (with full credit to you, of course). We were wondering if we might do that and how we might do that.

    Thanks so much for responding and great job on the presentation.

    Sarah Stack Feinberg

  6. Karen Meyer permalink
    October 29, 2012

    Great post about using students as tech leaders, Kim. We are in our first year of implementing portfolios using WordPress and this inspired me to get more students involved in the process.

    We are currently trying to figure out the best way for students to publish their videos. I see that your students publish to Vimeo. Could you please explain the nuts and bolts of how students publish? Do you have one account with a single login and password and only teachers publish to the site? Or do you give students the password when they publish? Why did you select Vimeo over YouTube?

    Thanks in advance.
    Karen Meyer

  7. Ardriana Marshall permalink
    November 16, 2012

    Hello Mrs. Confino! My name is Ardriana Marshall and I am totally excited about your Student Tech Team. I think it is a great head start for the youth. This will get them prepared for the world of technology that is being prepared for them. I, myself, wish I could have had a period in school that prepared me for the big changes that are taking place. Thanks for your enthusiasm and careful nature. We need more teachers like you!

  8. December 5, 2012

    Kim…Thanks so much for such a great piece on student technology teams and all you are doing at YIS. Very, very impressive. For the life of me, I don’t understand why more schools don’t take advantage of student expertise, enthusiasm, and their genuine desire to give back?

    I am working as an consultant to a mid-Maine, progressive middle school that is starting a from scratch student tech team this year. As you would expect, students are excited, committed, and raring to go. We would love to communicate with you and your team as you described above.

    Looking forward to more communication.

    Ed Brazee
    http://www.edbrazee.com

    P.S. I am a former teacher and university professor…now refocused (not retired)!
    Ed Brazee´s last blog post ..Digital Citizenship — On the Way

  9. Richard Stachowiak permalink
    March 1, 2013

    Having students for tech support is a fantastic idea that will free up those who do it for a job for more important matters, and it allows students to improve their tech knowledge and problem silving skills

  10. Megan permalink
    March 22, 2013

    I had never heard of Student Tech Teams before reading this post, and I think the idea of a student community who is motivated and shows the initiative to lead a group such as this is amazing. It’s going to prove valuable to not only them, but to the parents and teachers who partake as well.

    Integrating tech into education is never an easy situation, but being organized and excited about the experience makes it worthwhile. Thought I’d share this article on enhancing iPad use in the classroom while we’re on the topic of #edtech:

    http://bcontext.com/blog/index.php/new-ways-to-use-ipads-in-the-classroom/

  11. April 23, 2013

    Hi Kim,

    My name is Kyle Owens, I’m a college student and I love to travel! While cruising the internet, I found your site and really enjoyed reading your posts; your work is highly inspirational and I think it pushes students to travel and take chances. I have been to countries all over Europe with just my backpack and a camera. Since I am a college student and I have significant bills, it can be difficult to find ways to travel the world. However, I have done this several times, with less than ten pounds of luggage and while on a college dime! I’m hoping you will be open to allowing me to share my tips and tricks with your readers as I feel some of your readers are travelers, too. I put a lot of time into my traveling and would love to share my stories, mistakes and triumphs. Please let me know what you think!

    -Kyle Owens

    PS. I’m very jealous of your adventures; congrats on doing what must only dream of.

  12. Gwendolyn permalink
    May 17, 2013

    Kim,

    I’m starting a student tech team at my school next year and your blog gave me some great ideas. Thanks for sharing and keep up the success.

  13. Gail Jordal permalink
    July 26, 2013

    Sounds like you are doing wonderful work. I especially agree with the tech training for teachers. The fact that we have not had much experience with todays technologies makes us afraid to try many of he outstanding things available to us the Web.

  14. Brad Nixon Klein permalink
    August 23, 2013

    Hi Kim,

    Thanks for your blog and all of your web posts. They are a great help to me as I am an old teacher, teaching MYP Design Tech for the first time.

    How often do you meet with your students?

    Brad Klein
    Kodaikanal International School
    Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

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