On Saturday, November 8, the Iowa Student Learning Institute held its second annual IowaSLI conference at Waukee High School. 180 students, educators and community leaders from across Iowa gathered to talk about improving education. The guiding question for IowaSLI 2014 was "Students of Iowa: how can your learning change the world?" The conference featured keynote addresses by Jeff Herzberg of Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency, Iowa activist Zach Wahls, and RAYGUN CEO Mike Draper.
Students collaborated in breakout sessions over issues facing their schools and communities. Sessions included “What Rocks and What Sucks in Schools,” “Stop Bullying: Darnit,” “First Amendment Rights in Education,” and “Youthful Entrepreneurship.”
Students also wrote a proclamation titled We the Students: Our Vision for the Future of Education. In it, students demanded that “the adults leading our schools, communities, and local and state governments put students at the forefront of all educational decisions.” They argued that students need to be in control their learning, and that school needs to support students in pursuing their passions through learning experiences inside and outside of the classroom. IowaSLI participants left understanding that students have a critical role in shaping the future of their ever-changing education system, and that there is a world beyond the walls of their school that needs them to take a stand and fight for change. We The Students can be found at tinyurl.com/wethestudents2014.
The 2014 Iowa Student Learning Institute was made possible by sponsors such as Cannon Design, INVISION Architecture, American Trust and Savings Bank, Technology Association of Iowa, Amson Technology l.c., Buena Vista University, Hyperstream,the Waukee Community School District and many others.
The event may have lasted only one day, but the effects were lasting. On Twitter, the event had a reach of 73,000 with 387,000 impressions that has continued to form after November eighth.
The Iowa Student Learning Institute is a student-led organization dedicated to revolutionizing Iowa’s approach to education through the power of student voice.