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Student Led Staff Development: A Teen's Definition of Crisis
Grade Level(s): 9-12
By: Brett Heinzman, 12th Grade Teacher

Designed for a "Principles of Communication" class, students research an area of concern and add their perspective by presenting their findings and opinions to the faculty.


  • Alternative form of CDC for teachers
  • Collaborative learning project for seniors
  • An opportunity for teachers to see a project through students' perspectives

Staff Development is the continuing education of teachers other staff members. It is an essential ingredient to keep educators abreast of current issues and trends that are important to the well being of students at educational facilities.


This project is designed to give educators a different perspective of topics they may think they know a great deal about. This activity will have three to four senior "Principles of Communication" students research an area of concern to high school teenagers today. Students will add their perspectives as teenagers to their research findings. The culminating activity will be a day in which the students present their findings and opinions to the faculty in a small group setting.
  1. Students should form groups of three to four.
  2. The groups then need to brainstorm various areas of research that they see as "crisis" areas for today's teenagers. Some examples topics could be: Cancer, Death, Divorce, Asthma, Teen Pregnancy, Teen Alcohol Use, or Teen Drug Use. Remember these are just some example areas. Certainly you may feel free to explore other areas of concern since that what this project is ultimately trying to garner-A teen's perspective!
  3. Groups should then submit their research topics to the teacher. Each group will have a different area of research.
  4. Groups then need to develop a research plan. This plan needs to consider the best ways for going about collecting data on the group's topic. Some appropriate considerations would be:
    • a. Student surveys
    • b. Interviews with community resource leaders who are experts in their field for the latest data and information
    • c. Research from news publications, magazines, or books that provide insights into your topic
    • d. Interviews with students or adults that have insights into your topic. Example: Your topic is teens with Cancer. You interview a student who has cancer. Another example would be: Your topic is "A teen's perspective of living with a family member that has cancer." You interview the student or the family member that is afflicted with this disease.
    • e. All groups must incorporate various forms of technology into their project. Some appropriate uses of technology would be:
    • (1.) Microsoft PowerPoint
    • (2.) Aver key
    • (3.) Television
    • (4.) Video Camera
    • (5.) LCD Projector
    • (6.) Digital Camera
    • (7.) Scanner
    • (8.) VCR
    • (9.) CD Player/Tape Player
  5. All groups need to construct a brief, informative term paper, which provides background information for their topic. Approximate length for the research paper should be 1700 to 2000 words. The term paper needs to be in MLA 5th Edition form and objective in nature. This paper will be distributed to educators that attend the group's staff development session. The research paper must include the following components:
    • a. 10 bibliography cards
    • b. 50 Note cards
    • c. Topic or Sentence Outline
    • d. Body of the Research paper that uses 7 of the 10 bibliography card sources (3 maximum from the Internet)
    • e. Works Cited Section
  6. Upon completing the background research information, groups should ponder how they intend to present a "student's view" of their researched topic. It will be very important to gather information that supports your student perspective. This information then needs to be creatively organized into an oral presentation. Each group will do two oral presentations. The first presentation will be given to the members of the Principles of Communications class. The second presentation will be given at the student led staff development day. Both presentations should be approximately 45 minutes in length and include:
    • a. Research Paper Handout
    • b. "Brief" overview of the research paper
    • c. "Brief" overview of the group's "student perspective" of the topic
    • d. Facts, Opinions, Visuals, Handouts, and other forms of information needed to present the topic.
    • e. A period of time for questions from the audience
    • f. A group designed teacher feedback form. This form should include a few questions for the faculty to answer, which provides feedback to the group. The form should also include an area where each attending faculty member assigns the group an overall grade from 60 to 100.
    • g. At least 4 forms of technology integration

Scoring Guide-Each area is 100 points:

Research Paper-100 points maximum.

The teacher will read all term papers and grade them on a 100 point system. The main areas of focus will be ability to follow directions, grammar, and usage.

Class Presentation-100 points maximum.

Each class member will fill out the survey sheet that the group has created for the staff development session. Each class member will assign the group a grade between 60 and 100. The teacher will add together all students' grades and divide those grades by the total number of students present in class to determine the group's Class Presentation grade.

Staff Development Presentation-100 Points maximum.

Each member of the staff that attends the group's presentation will be given a survey sheet at the conclusion of the presentation. One question that should appear on each group's survey sheet should be a place where each staff member assigns the group a grade from 60 to 100. The teacher will forewarn the faculty about the survey sheets and ask the staff to be honest about each group's presentation.

Staff Development Day:

The teacher will divide the total number of staff members attending the staff development day by the total number of groups presenting topics. For example: If 100 staff members were attending and 10 different groups were presenting, I would limit the faculty to 10 staff members per topic sign up sheet. This will ensure balance of attendance and equity in grading to all groups.

The teacher will post a list of all the different group topics in the teachers' workroom. Each group topic will be assigned a corresponding room number. Each member of the staff will sign up for one of the groups' topics. There will be a previously determined, equitable number of staff members per topic. This will provide student groups with approximately the same number of staff members.

Student groups should prepare the classroom they will be presenting in immediately following the dismissal of school at 1:00. It is very important for groups to reserve any pieces of technology they will be using ahead of time for the staff development day. See the teacher ahead of time if there are any problems with this.

At the conclusion of the group's presentation, the group members should have the staff members fill out their survey forms. The teacher will supply a large envelope for those completed forms to be placed in. One member of each group should take the initiative of collecting the surveys, putting the surveys into the envelope, and giving the envelope to the teacher. Please be sure to put your group members' names and your group's topic on the outside of the envelope. The teacher will add together the total number of surveys grades per envelope and divide by the total number of surveys completed. The groups will get to review the surveys during the next Principles of Communications class period.


This is the newest lesson that I have created. I hope to experiment with this lesson for the fist time this year during a staff development day.


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