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Rethink Youth

2021 Conference

Despite the pandemic, in February 2021, the first virtual youth-led conference took place for students coming from 10 different high schools in the Kansas City metro area, representing both sides of the state line (Kansas and Missouri).

A group of 90 students developed their vision for the virtual conference, including in depth projects focused on changes they want to see in the education environment. Additionally, students created a mural and design-thinking session. Each topic and presentation were crafted by students, addressing their burning question and change they want to see in education. This first conference was also a kick-off to continue our investment into student perspectives.

Watch the Presentations

Each high school team developed a presentation, report, and further questions for other classrooms and adults to utilize in their own discussions. We encourage you to take a look at the topics they have elevated and dig deeper with your students or colleagues.


WATCH: “Connecting the Classroom to the World Outside” | 17:20

Connecting the Classroom to the World Outside by Crossroads Prep Academy

How might schools better prepare students to find their place in the world beyond school? Students explored what Real World Learning (RWL) means to them and its benefits in schools, including the effect it has on critical thinking, decision-making, and life skills.


WATCH: “Get to Know Me – A Case for Teachers Better Connecting with Students” | 23:21

Get to Know Me – A Case for Teachers Better Connecting with Students by DeLaSalle Education Center

Students spend an average of 6 hours a day in school, so it is important for teachers to build connections with their students beyond handing out assignments. Students explored the different ways that teachers can develop stronger connections with their students, and how those connections affect student success and performance.


WATCH: “Urban Farming – Strategies for Combating Food Insecurity in Schools” | 18:39

Urban Farming – Strategies for Combating Food Insecurity by East High School

Students focused on the effect that food insecurity has on student achievement and whether students with better access to food perform better in schools. Students explored strategies for addressing food insecurities in high school through hydroponic and urban farming.


WATCH: “A Case of Fairness” | 17:31

A Case of Fairness by Fort Osage

Students Rethink the grading systems to better connect with different learners. The present grading structure does not always represent what students have learned; it should also be based on different learning styles.


WATCH: “Time for Change – Searching for Homework Alternatives” | 13:36

Time for Change – Searching for Homework Alternatives by Fort Osage

Homework has become outdated “busy work” and lost its effect on student learning. Students addressed the current homework structure in place, explored alternatives to homework, and shared different methods that contribute to mastery of what is taught in class.


WATCH: “Gamification – Adding Excitement to the Curriculum” | 23:28

Gamification – Adding Excitement to the Curriculum by Hogan Prep

Students looked at how learning styles are acknowledged but not taken into account during instruction. Students argue that the current curriculum does not address the needs of all learners, and that this type of exclusion creates an uncomfortable environment for some students which can have a negative effect on student achievement.


WATCH: “Learning Styles – Creating an Environment for Everyone” | 18:58

Learning Styles – Creating an Environment for Everyone by Liberty High School

Students rethink curriculum. The current curriculum does not address the needs of all learners, and this type of exclusion creates an uncomfortable environment for some students which can have a negative effect on student achievement. Students looked at how learning styles are acknowledged but not taken into account during instruction.


WATCH: “Exploring Postsecondary Pathways Early – We Don’t Have to Wait” | 24:11

Exploring Postsecondary Pathways Early – We Don’t Have to Wait by Liberty North High School

Students explored the benefits of starting real world learning based instruction during their freshman year of high school. Schools wait to allow students to explore Real World Learning and possible post-secondary options until the senior year.


WATCH: “Ultimate Connection – Can You Teach Me if You Don’t Look Like Me?” | 16:36

Ultimate Connection – Can You Teach Me if You Don’t Look Like Me? by Northeast High School

Students explored the benefits associated with racial identities between teachers and students. Students explored the pros and cons of racial connectedness between teachers and students and looked for the connection between student performance and same-race educators.


WATCH: “Redefining Gifted – All Students Are Special” | 20:39

Redefining Gifted – All Students Are Special by Raytown High School

Current gifted models exclude students who are gifted in ways traditionally not seen as academic. Schools should recognize students who are on technical, artistic, and/or military track and pathways as gifted also.