The words “student voice” have become vogue around educational circles, conferences and tweets – and for good reason.
Teachers who have been around a while – know that jargon is something that comes and goes and as a result, we are often very weary of fashionable terms . For me, there is something very special about this term because it asks us to disrupt the students role in the classroom, something I value in my own educational philosophy. This is because I have seen first hand that a disruptive change in the way we deliver content is pivotal for promoting a love of learning, inspiring students to find their passion and real academic gains.
While promoting student voice has taken a front and center role for me – I have begun to narrow the overall idea down to these three main ingredients. Let’s look at the first and often most important place to start.
One of the most powerful ways we can promote student voice in the classroom comes from the purposeful use of technology.
When we use devices to hear from all students, we allow them to make their learning open and transparent – and its this concept that sits at the crux of where people need to focus their attention when trying to make transformative changes in the classroom. This change, promotes metacognition, an understanding of the power of collaboration and builds social learning fluencies.
Apps like Flipgrid, Socrative, SeeSaw, Padlet, and Adobe Spark allow us to give students a chance to make their ideas and learning visible – and audible – so that we can hear from all of them – not just the few that raise their hands. It allows us to hear from those who have not yet mastered the art of the written word – or need improved oral skills to do so. It respects those kids who need more time to construct their thoughts and ideas. When students explain their learning to us – we can know when they know something and when they don’t and make adjustments in our instruction, in real-time, to meet their needs. This one tweak is so powerful and such a transformative use of technology!
When I was a student my teacher was always repeating these words: “Be quiet” and “Shhh.” She did not understand the power of social and collaborative learning or the power behind the articulation of ideas – but educators in 2017 do and/or should and our students will be better off because this change in our instructional practices! We can now allow students to tell us what they learned, what they are thinking and share their ideas with other students allowing for strong metacognitive experiences. This happens when they share their work with each other, they think about their thinking as they begin comparing their ideas with those of the other students.
Furthermore, this “Articulation of Learning” allows for students to experience a cognitive struggle as they have to work harder to be able to articulate their learning in a concise and articulate manner. When this happens they have a better chance of producing the needed experiences for cognitive growth and acquisition.
In the end, typing a paper or taking notes using technology is great and easier – but using technology to hear from every student is one of the most powerful ways we can use the tool to amplify the learning process in our classrooms – and begin the journey of open and transparent learning: learning that transforms and transcends the classroom.