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Co-Creating to Fit Our Unique Learning Styles

On a Thursday evening in Downtown Las Vegas, a small but mighty group of young minds gather to talk about education, changes in assessments, and to display a showcase of creative projects. It’s learning reimagined. This Gallery Walk represents the culmination of almost a year of competency-based work done by the Nevada Youth Empowerment Fellowship. 

“In the Portrait of a Nevada Learner work, there are a lot of things that adults are working on to change the future of how teaching and learning is done in Nevada,” says Anna Russo, Director of Community Futures at Knowledge Works. “We decided youth should be a part of this process. Youth should have a voice in it, working to understand what is happening so they can share with other youth, their teachers, their caregivers, their parents, anyone they know about why it’s important that we’re working on shifting how school is done.” 

The goal: let’s do school differently, to really meet the needs of all students. 

The future of Nevada’s students depends on a more versatile education that nurtures both the academic and durable skills essential for success. 

“How do I get an education that is tailored to my interests, so that I can go forth and be an adult who is thriving and not just thriving for myself, but for everyone else around me and the society we live in,” adds Russo. 

The Nevada Youth Empowerment Fellowship has given students the space to help design what this looks like and to have a voice for the future.  

Pauline, a sophomore at Northeast Career and Technical Academy (NECTA), explains their first project was a creative execution to explain why they chose to participate in the fellowship. Students got the freedom to create a painting, magazine, podcast, or some other artifact of their choice. 

“For the second project, we used legos to showcase the future of education we’re seeking for, that may not exist today,” said Pauline.  

During the Gallery Walk the students’ projects were displayed all over the room and stations were set up with additional hand-ons demonstrations. After 15 minutes at each station, the participants would rotate to ensure everyone got to experience all the stations. In attendance were educators, program managers, teachers, parents, and other youth. Pauline is very invested in this work and is excited to leave her mark in what the future of learning may look like. 

“As a sophomore, I’ve experienced the struggles of being a high schooler and I don’t want future high schoolers to have that stress,” she adds. 

Another student, Sahara, a senior at Foothill High School, explains her station was focused on finding ways to allow student assessments to become more meaningful and impactful for the students taking them. 

“Instead of writing a 10-page essay, they can create an art piece or create a song,” says Sahara. “Some people have different learning styles and we’re still able to show that we understand the concept, but in different ways and it becomes an even easier task for us because we’re doing it in a way that fits our learning style.” 

Through the Nevada Youth Empowerment Fellowship, students have voice and choice, being able to choose when to be assessed. This also speaks to the power dynamics inside the classroom, and the need to develop a co-created space and a shared learning experience. Getting an education that will help students thrive in the future. 

“At the end of the day, the students are the ones who will be affected by changes in the classroom and they know what they need better than anyone else,” says Russo. “They need to have a voice in how their little brothers and sisters experience school moving forward.” 

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