Guide to hosting your conversation
What is this?
This hosting guide contains frequently asked questions and tips to help you host a successful conversation with young people about the future of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education in Canada. It complements and supplements the three Canada 2067 conversation guides found on this page. You don’t have to read this in order to have a great conversation; however, this guide is meant to give you extra clarity and guidance to help you get the most out of this exciting opportunity.
This guide is for anyone who wants to help young people’s voices be heard when it comes to the future of STEM by hosting a conversation as part of the Canada 2067 initiative.
What are the important dates and deadlines?
We would love to receive your input anytime during the 2016-2017 school year (the sooner the better), and the final due date is the end of the 2016-2017 school year.
We can receive the notes from your conversation, either online through: www.canada2067.ca/youthvoice
Or by mail:
Canada 2067 Research Team – H&K Strategies
55 Metcalfe St #1100
Ottawa ON K1P 6L5
Everything you need to know to host a conversation on the future of STEM education in Canada
We’ve divided this guide into three main sections that cover key questions that you might have before, during and after your conversation. Read through the sections in order or jump to a specific section as needed.
Section 1: Before your conversation
We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for you to host a successful conversation with young people about the future of STEM education. The basic steps are:
- Select an appropriate space, time and date
- If you are not hosting as part of an existing class, invite participants
- Host your conversation using one of our three conversation guides (approximately one hour each)
- Record your answers and insights online or use the workbook as you go
Share your conversation notes with us online or by mail:
Canada2067 Research Team - H&K Strategies
55 Metcalfe St #1100
Ottawa ON K1P 6L5
In order to make your conversation happen, you may need to ask the permission of and gain the support of different people (such as school administrators, parents, teachers, etc.). It is important to know that Canada 2067 may publicly share excerpts of conversations submitted, or release statistical data based on responses gathered, but anything shared will not be attributed to individuals or institutions. In fact, no names or personal identifiers will be gathered as part of this process (other than postal codes).
Here are a few reasons that we think investing your time and energy into hosting a conversation is worthwhile for both you and your participants.
Hosting a conversation offers an opportunity to...
- Stretch your capacity and ability to facilitate conversations
- Help young people’s voices, ideas and thoughts be heard
- Be part of a national conversation of vital importance to the future
Participating in a conversation offers a chance to...
- Engage in discussion about an important subject with peers across the country
- Influence the future of STEM education in Canada
- Reflect about STEM’s connections to learning and career opportunities
If you’re hosting a conversation as part of an existing class, it shouldn’t take you very long to plan once you’ve secured any needed permissions. You’ll need to take some time to familiarize yourself with the conversation guide, host the conversation (designed to take approximately one hour) and then share the results of the conversation with us. This shouldn’t take you more than a few hours total at most.
If you’re hosting a conversation outside of an existing class, it might take a little longer to plan a conversation as you’ll need to secure a venue, time and date, and invite participants with enough time for them to respond. We suggest giving yourself 2-3 weeks to do this, spending a few hours each week.
We’ve designed this process to be flexible and easy to run with minimal resources. Here are some suggestions:
People: At minimum, you’ll need someone to host the conversation, someone to help take notes, and at least one participant. The conversation guide is flexible for both small and large groups of participants.
Space: If possible, we suggest using a flexible space that enables participants to face each other for a more conversational style. For larger groups you may want to have space that enables separate small group discussions as well as plenary whole-group discussions. If possible, we suggest that your space have somewhere to write things down in large text so the whole group can see (such as a whiteboard, chalkboard or flip chart).
Supplies: At minimum, you’ll need to have a copy of the conversation guide as well as the workbook for capturing the results of your conversation. You could print a copy of these, or work from electronic versions if your setup allows (e.g. tablet computer). If your participants don’t yet know each other, nametags can be a nice addition. You may also wish to provide copies of the workbook and pens or pencils to participants for reference, though not required.
Participants: We’ve designed this process for young people between the ages of 14-18. In particular, we think a conversation like this would be a great fit in high school STEM- or careers-related classes or activities. However, feel free to adapt your conversation to meet your circumstances (e.g. the age of participants, the class/activity where the conversation takes place). We’re especially interested in those who’ve opted out of STEM, not just fans of it!
Host/Facilitator: While anyone can host a conversation about the future of STEM education in Canada, people who work with young people in and around the educational field will likely find these conversations easiest and most directly relevant to their work. This includes people like teachers, school administrators, educational programming staff, and parents. No particular skills or competencies are required other than a willingness to read through the conversation guide and try it out.
You may consider using social media, posters, and word of mouth to let potential participants know about this exciting opportunity. Think about your community and networks, and how they might support you in identifying young people who may wish to participate. If you’re working with schools or educational institutions, think about how you could use things like school announcements and bulletin boards to help spread the word.
Yes, we do! Feel free to adapt these to your own use.
Email, newsletter, bulletin board, etc
Have you ever been asked what you think about the way subjects like science and math are learned in school? No? Here’s your chance - come join us in a fun, engaging conversation and help shape the future of STEM education in Canada. (Insert host name) invites you to join in this important, exciting opportunity to participate in Canada 2067.
Who? (Insert information about who is hosting, who you’d like to attend, etc.)
Where? (Insert location info)
When? (Insert time and date info)
For more information and to register: (Insert where to go for more information and registration details if relevant)
Social media messages (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- Come shape the future of STEM education in Canada! Join us at (insert information on when, where, etc. or link)
- Want to share your ideas on how to make school better? We want to hear from you! (insert information on when, where, etc. or link)
- Calling all youth: we need your voices to help influence how the next generation learns. Let’s talk! (insert information on when, where, etc. or link)
- Join other youth across Canada & have your voice heard. Conversation on STEM education happening at (insert information on when, where, etc. or link)
Section 2: During your conversation
Don’t stress too much about the setup of the room - the most important thing is that you and your participants are comfortable. How you set up will depend on your room, number of participants and desired style for the conversation. We suggest participants face each other, for more of a conversational style. It’s also ideal if you have space where you can write things down for your group to see, such as a whiteboard, chalkboard or flip chart.
The main consideration for larger groups is managing time while ensuring that participants have a chance to speak and be heard. Note taking can also be challenging with a larger group.
One easy way to manage big groups is by asking participants to break into smaller groups. In small groups, participants can each have a chance to speak even within a constrained timeframe. Additional facilitators to support these smaller groups in their conversations, and to help take notes, could also be helpful. Note taking could also be made easier by asking for a volunteer from each group.
Another way to help manage large groups is asking participants to think-pair-share: think about a concept on their own, pair up and discuss, then ask those pairs to find another pair to share their discussion with. For very large groups, you can also continue the cycle (having groups of four find other groups of four, etc.). This can condense a lot of conversation amongst individuals into a very short time period.
Get creative and think about the resources you have at your disposal to help you host a conversation where everyone has a chance to speak and be heard!
Small groups offer a great opportunity for more in-depth conversation and sharing. The main consideration with a small group is your role in helping create space for people to respond, particularly during questions where participants may feel stumped or unable to answer. Gentle prompting questions can help with this, as can sharing your own experiences, or calling on participants directly.
Calling upon participants directly can also help manage a group where one or two voices may be dominating the discussion. You may also wish to use other techniques, such as asking participants to write down their ideas and thoughts individually before sharing with the group).
There are many variables to consider in hosting an online conversation. Unless you normally interact with your participants online, we recommend hosting a face-to-face session whenever possible as it will likely be simpler and easier for you to manage.
If you wish to host an online conversation, try to use the same technology that your participants are already familiar and comfortable with. This will help minimize the possibility of technical issues and enable more natural, dynamic conversation. Consider how you might use different components of the technology to support your conversation. For example, many online platforms offer video, audio, and text chat. Some even allow you to conduct polls or other interactive activities. Get creative and let us know how it goes!
Managing time during conversations can be difficult, particularly if conversations take an unexpected but productive turn. We included suggested times for each discussion question, but remember that the conversation guide is just that: a guide. If your group is particularly engaged on a topic and the conversation is flowing, feel free to let it continue and even use follow-up prompts to probe more deeply into what participants are saying.
You can ask your note taker to help keep track of the time (based on the guidelines in the conversation guide). We’ve designed the questions to be able to fit within an hour-long session, though this may require some active facilitation if participants are particularly engaged.
In the conversation guide, we’ve identified a few areas where you may wish to stimulate deeper reflection in participants. These could include certain points in the ‘notes to facilitator’ sections, call-outs on indigenous concepts, and/or your own personal experience and expertise (depending on which classes you teach). If you wish to do this, you may want to split up the questions across several periods or be creative in where and how you introduce these additional concepts. We want the guide to work for you, so feel free to adapt it as best fits your circumstances and participants.
We’ve developed simple workbooks (both online and printable) to help you capture the results of your conversation. We suggest having at least one dedicated note taker during your conversation, either taking notes onto a paper copy of the workbook (for uploading later or direct mail-in) or typing directly into our online survey. This could be a volunteer from your group of participants, or a colleague. For larger groups, you may wish to have smaller breakout discussion groups working in parallel, each with a volunteer note taker.
Depending on the pace and intensity of your conversation, it might be difficult for the note taker to capture everything. You may instruct them to capture only the main ideas they hear, or select ideas at random from those they hear. If possible, the note taker could use a computer to type their notes (either offline or directly into our online survey) rather than write them by hand, though this is not required.
We are interested in hearing any and all ideas that come up during your conversation, so don’t be shy and feel free to share as many insights as you can from your conversation. We’re listening, so let’s talk!
Upload on http://canada2067.ca/youthvoice
Or mail to:
Canada2067 Research Team - H&K Strategies
55 Metcalfe St #1100
Ottawa ON K1P 6L5
We’ll read all the conversation notes from across Canada looking for themes and patterns to inform a framework to be released at our Canada2067 Conference. The framework will act as a guide for everyone involved in education to share best practices around STEM in schools. We may share publicly excerpts of conversations submitted and release statistics based on the data we gather from certain questions, but anything shared will not be attributed to individuals or institutions.
Section 3: After your conversation
Participants can stay connected to Canada 2067 in a number of ways, including:
- Checking out the content on www.canada2067.ca
- Applying to come to the Canada 2067 conference, or live streaming it
- Asking others in their lives to host additional conversations
Conversation hosts and facilitators can stay in the loop by:
- Getting involved in another conversation (there are 3 subject areas). Details at canada2067.ca/youthvoice
- Apply to join us at the Canada 2067 Conference in Toronto, or live stream some events with your class canada2067.ca/conference
Stay involved through social media at:
Thank you – we can’t wait to hear what your participants have to say!
Thank you for helping shape the future of STEM education in Canada by hosting a conversation with young people in your community. Hundreds of others across Canada will be doing the same, and together, we can ensure that the voices of youth help create a brighter future for all.