Run an #NR21 Unconference

“Unconferences are about empowering attendees to share their expertise. They give participants the opportunity to have an unfiltered exchange of innovative ideas.”

—Rebecca O. Bagley

The thing that makes an unconference unique is the agenda and schedule is set at the unconference. Participants build the session board, the official schedule of the event pictured at right, by brainstorming discussion prompts, big ideas, questions they might have on a process, and resources and strategies they might want to share.

To spark participants' creativity with developing session topics, Charles Sebek, coordinator for Clark County School District's Equity and Diversity Education Department, gave an inspirational keynote speech. Some participants were apprehensive about facilitating sessions and Mr. Sebek focused on this unease in his speech. He had participants write their three E's on a notecard. He asked us:

  • "What are you excited about?"
  • "What are you an expert at?"
  • "What would you like to explore?"

In our opening circle, participants shared their thoughts. From there Mr. Sebek asked us to reflect on these questions:

  1. "What might the ideal unconference session look like?"
  2. "What would be the benefits, to us, if we engaged in that way? What could we accomplish?"
  3. "What behaviors or obstacles might stand in the way?"
  4. "What is one thing you are willing to do to help us all achieve the ideal unconference experience today?"

Check out the pictures below and continue reading the story.

The keynote speech lit a fire under everyone and we were able to come up with more than enough session topics to easily fill our session board. Each participant used small stickers to vote for the sessions they would like to go to. The session topics that received the most votes were chosen and moved onto the session board. Check out the session board we made by following this link.

Because not all participants could attend each session, one person at each session took notes on a collaborative Doc. This record was an important document, as participants could draw from the information after the unconference.

During the unconference, each session incorporated honest collaboration and communication between the participants.

The unconference ended with a closing circle led by Robert Jones, project manager for the Nevada Ready 21 program in Clark County School District. Each participant shared their insight and detailed what they took from the event and explained how they were going to share this with the teachers and staff at their school site.

If you would like to run an #NR21 unconference at your school, download the materials using the links below.