Tuesday, May 12, 2015

LASD Filmfest - Student Agency in Action!

Many educational conversations around change are focusing on student agency. What is it? “Student agency refers to the level of control, autonomy, and power that a student experiences in an educational situation.” (Learn more here.) An incredible example of student agency in LASD is our Film Festival. For anyone who attended, you saw student agency in action. The LASD Filmfest just celebrated its fourth year. The film festival began as a PBL (Project Based Learning) project and two sixth grade classrooms. Each year, the film festival is passed on to a new classroom at any of our schools to be planned and implemented. The festival is a student run event, meant to celebrate and encourage student creativity through film. For students, by students.
This year the festival was created by Mrs. Nguyen’s fifth grade class at Almond. They went with an Academy Awards theme with red carpets and paparazzi. Those who entered were encouraged to dress up and come with an acceptance speech. It was great watching two kindergarten students, one in a fancy dress and one in dress slacks and a white shirt, walk solo to to the stage, open up a folded up piece of paper and read their prepared thank-you’s as they accepted a first place award for their class collaboration film. Students who entered, cheered for each other as they anticipated the announcement of each winner. It was a well crafted celebration of student learning and Mrs. Nguyen’s fifth graders owned that event. They were in charge, excited, and came prepared to deliver. It was awesome!
In LASD, student agency is reflected in our Empower Students, Personalize Learning, and Connect Experiences Learning Principles. Speaking to the transformation happening in education, "Most Likely to Succeed Shows How Classrooms Modeled on Real Life can Help Kids Succeed in Real Life”, is an article from Fast Company, with a focus on a new film that studies High Tech High in San Diego. The film previewed at the Sundance Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival and is gaining momentum across the country.

The students showcased in Most Likely to Succeed represent what’s possible when you give kids more responsibility than you think they can handle and ask them to bring all of their knowledge to bear on a single task.”

Student Agency is the goal, and we’re working on ways to encourage and build more of those experiences for our LASD students. The LASD Filmfest is an incredible example of our efforts. A huge thank you to all students who participated and Mrs. Nguyen’s’s fifth grade class. You rocked it!

Contributed by Kami Thordarson, Interim Principal Oak School