#IowaSLI and #stuvoice has reinvigorated my life’s work!

I am not sure where to begin with this post. Yesterday I attended the second year of IowaSLI. This is an event operated and created by high school students: Ian Coon, Jack Hostager, and others on the leadership team.

It is now the morning after and I am still amped up with what I witnessed. Students coming together on a Saturday, giving up their own time, changing their plans, and to completely spend a day immersed in conversation about making change in education and learning for themselves and future generations.


Last year I brought the Iowa High Five group and they were stellar! This year three of them returned: Laurel, Jill, and Holly. I also brought three middle students who are new to all of this: Chloe, Emma, and Ryan. It was awesome to have experience as well as new visions and listen to their ideas.


We headed out around 6:30 for the three hour drive. Honestly, the whole drive was powerful conversation about student voice, education, and things they wanted to solve. My middle schoolers crafted and devised a plan for things to talk about and lead a session at the conference. What they created went beyond the scope of a 40 minute session, but as we talked we started to slowly piece together a much larger action plan.

What I love best about this conference is that fact that students as well as educators have time to share, talk, and make connections. We made some powerful connections and we held great conversations. Just the simple fact of our high schoolers talking with our middle schoolers is a huge feat in and of itself.

As I went from session to session(Dane Barner lead a Rocks and Sucks session, I went to both my students sessions, and a session on non core classes) I was so amazed at how articulate students were about their ideas. I took many notes and left with several thoughts to process and pursue.


That night when I was heading home I had to leave a message to our Iowa Educator Voxer group because I was so pumped with the day.

Listen to my Vox http://www.voxer.com/v/96b698ed52

I found the drive to be just as powerful as the conference. We were talking about many things, laughing, singing dumb lyrics, and just connecting in a way that shifts the lines of Educator vs. Student. I am excited to move forward with our ideas that we want to push.

They key is action. We can spend a day talking, but if we don’t move to action then nothing is accomplished. I know for a fact that things are moving.

Iowa High Five is going to expand. We talked about many new ventures and updates

Student Knowledge Network is just about ready to launch officially for schools to copy and use our framework kit(take a peak but realize it is not completed yet)

StuCamp is ready to rock and will be happening!

And we have a few other ideas in production.

The students walked away pumped. They have a vision and now it is time to streamline, come up with an action plan, and move into doing.

Students are amazing and when we give them opportunities to showcase their ideas it is just too powerful for words!

People were wanting to know more about project based learning, project tunings, how we get students involved, the flipped learning idea created by students, RSVP, and Iowa High Five. It reminded me that many students and educators are pioneering new ideas that are going to take off as more schools test things out. I left the conference feeling good about what we are trying to get done in Bettendorf despite the fact that we still have some work to do.

More importantly, I was reminded or I should say I gained clarity about my work. I have a passion for education. I bounce around many ideas trying to find exactly what it is that I am after. After a 14 hour day it finally hit me. I gained my vision that was sitting right in front of my face this whole time. I am now excited to move forward to with some life goals of mine. Now that I have the vision these goals can finally happen.

Thank you to everyone who challenged my thinking, talked to me, talked and listened to my students, and everyone who made ISLI happen.

The first thing I am going to do Monday morning is call all of the parents of my students and thank them for doing their job as their kids are awesome. From there…….well you will soon find out!

Check out more images here

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