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When students take control of the classroom
Students from third grade to the last year of high school led a new day of educational conferences with more than 90 activities. This year's theme, “Connected Through…” inspired new ways to grow and learn in our community.
Self-Navigator is one of the four attributes of Lincoln Learners, and SPEAK is the ideal space to develop it. This is an annual event led by students from third grade to the last year of high school in which they present educational activities to cultivate knowledge. That's where its name comes from: Students Present Educational Activities for Knowledge. On November 24, Lincoln had its 2023 edition with the theme “Connected through…”
“From its beginnings, the goal of SPEAK was to create a space where students can express themselves and generate meaningful connections. With a wide range of options, each learner designs how they want to spend their day and what new things they want to learn. It is impactful,” shares Nada Collins, Superintendent at Lincoln. In addition to encouraging learners to talk and work on topics that interest and worry them, SPEAK creates new bonds, and everyone - students, teachers, and staff - ends the day with new knowledge, experiences, and, most importantly, a greater sense of community and enthusiasm for learning.
This year's theme runs through Lincoln from its foundations. As an international school, with 54 nationalities represented, there is always a great diversity of proposals for exploration, expression, and reflection. On this occasion, the students prepared workshops around topics such as 3D printing; the study of particles and electromagnetic induction; Inca history; Japanese and Korean culture; teaching Chinese, Arabic, and Russian languages; Python programming; origami; video games; gardening; chess; Minecraft; Bollywood dance; traditional cuisine, and sports, among many other proposals.
Today, as in its beginnings nine years ago, SPEAK works as a platform to enhance learning by doing and promote student independence. The result is thinkers and researchers who lead more than 90 educational proposals for their classmates and teachers. “The student organizers of SPEAK wanted to share things that connected us to others, to our passions, and ourselves,” explains Matthew Dolmont, Technology and Innovation Coach, high school teacher and the main organizer of the event.
At the end of the event, another attribute of Lincoln Learners shines: communicating. Slams are the best way to put that skill into practice: short but powerful speeches that allow students to express themselves freely in an environment of acceptance and support. This scenario is a celebration of the curiosity, the innovation, and the individuality of each student. They learn about specific topics that the young generation is passionate about and that fall outside the agenda of what learners traditionally study.
So, what do students learn when they take charge of an activity? Design thinking, critical research, collaboration, empathy, creativity, and resilience. SPEAK empowers and builds leadership skills.
“SPEAK is an opportunity for us to choose how our day will go,” comments Marco, president of the High School Student Council. He adds: “It is a magical time to make connections that I would never be able to make during normal school days. For example, meet some elementary students who like American football and provide an activity about that sport.”
In a multicultural environment like Lincoln, where the current premise is to grow #AllTogether, SPEAK places students at the center of learning. It is a celebration that strengthens self-confidence, helps develop communication skills, and encourages young people to express themselves honestly. It is an important stage in the maturity and training of Lincoln Learners as agents of change to build a better world together.
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