Getting students involved and participating can be both empowering but also challenging. When students have a voice in the classroom, they feel that they are part of the community and they are more likely to share their thoughts, communicate about needing additional support and be available to help others. The question remains though, how do we get students to feel comfortable with sharing their thoughts?
I was reminded of the power of student voice this past week when I saw the energy and enthusiasm exhibited by our third graders during the wax museum. I was amazed seeing what they created and prepared! What could have been a basic essay done on paper in one week was turned into a meaningful community event that brought about connections between students across the entire school, connected teachers and parents and resulted in an impressive project focused on learning.
Seeing the students make their own choice not only on topic but on method as well was impressive. Some students had written out their report, others chose to create a KeyNote, some included a poster and even still other students chose to do a slideshow video showing their work. The choice component was crucial because it gave students a sentiment of trust and allowed them to show their learning in a way that was most effective for them.
It is, of course, not feasible to expect that every single writing assignment results in a product like this – that would be unrealistic and I am in no way suggesting that! I am wondering how we are providing opportunities for voice and choice to be recognized throughout every school day. I do feel that is something more reasonable to wonder – do students have input on how they are demonstrating their learning and do their personal strengths develop because of the learning objectives? I see so many great examples of just this – voice and choice being recognized across the entire school – like when students get to choose an app to show their learning, or when the “W” section of a KWL (what we know, what we want to know and what we learned) chart is revisited, or when students are asked how they would be most successful in showing that they have mastered the day’s lesson! Simply asking students how they would be most successful showing their learning may bring up ideas that we have not even considered before, it may even bring up ideas we have not even seen on Pinterest…yet! I definitely encourage you all to share out your ideas on your social media accounts, during collaboration, while eating lunch in the lounge, while waiting for the copy machine – anytime you are with another person – celebrate what you have done and try to be open about what others are doing as well.