Superintendent Joe Maurice along with Davey Taylor (ADSB’s Wellness Special Assignment Teacher) shared information about an innovative initiative in which ADSB students participated recently. The Students as Researchers (StaR) Conference was a forum that a number of student teams and ADSB staff attended at Stokely Creek Lodge in Goulais River.
Students and teachers are taking part in StaR Conferences (or student forums) across the province including over 40 students and staff from the Algoma District. The intent of these conferences is to give students an opportunity to share their ideas on topics that matter to them and to introduce students to the collaborative inquiry research method – a process in which students work together to identify and research an issue impacting equity, student engagement, well-being or achievement.
The conferences are an extension of the Ministry of Education’s Student Voice initiative which is all about allowing Ontario’s students to have a voice in their learning. The StaR Conferences were introduced as a direct response to students’ suggestions about the importance of learning life skills like research and critical thinking. The conference provided new ways to gather student perspectives and incorporate students’ views into school policy and directives. The research projects were rooted in students’ questions and theories about what they thought might improve their education and their school communities.
The Algoma District School Board’s 7-12 Student Achievement Coordinator Katie Mohamed organized the event for the Algoma District and a diverse group of students attended the 3-day conference at Stokely Creek. In addition there were representatives from the Ministry of Education and from OELC (Ontario Educator Leadership Council) who were there to facilitate the forum.
The theme or guiding question of the forum this year was “What does student well-being look like to you?” Over the 72 hours, teams were challenged to come up with a draft research question that will be used to guide their research over the next 6 months. Davey Taylor attended the conference and worked with the students. He remarked on the impressive depth of thought given to the assignment. While some teams continue to refine their research question, other examples included:
1. How can parents be more involved in their child’s education?
2. What holds back your student voice?
3. How much do gym students (grades 7-12) know about mental and physical health?
4. In school, are you comfortable being First Nation, Metis and is your culture visible in your school?
From here, students will determine how to proceed with their research question. They may conduct surveys or host focus groups. Their research need not be scientific but it will be measurable. Student teams who complete projects will have an opportunity to present their research to the Ministry of Education at Queen’s Park in April at the StaR Symposium.