Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Power of Student Voice & Choice


Differentiated, Personalized, Individualized...there are a plethora of charts detailing the difference between these three.  Let me let you in on a little secret....call it what you like, but simply put, these are just describing words for what your classroom should look and feel like for every student.

Every class should excite a culture of learning that fosters relationships and growth through student voice and choice. There must be a release of old school ideas regarding classroom management that teaches students should be seen and not heard. Instead, we must embrace a culture of learning that gives students the freedom to grow through inquiry and collaboration.

Student voice and choice...In reality, one cannot exist without the other. There is a beautiful relationship between the two.  To provide voice allows for choice and to provide choice allows for voice. Our lessons should provide students opportunities to express understanding in ways that are relevant and rigorous.  Relevant, in that students should get to choose elements and/or platforms that are the most meaningful for them.  Rigorous, in that students should be appropriately challenged according to their levels of readiness.

Student voice and choice

  1. creates infinite ways for students to express knowledge and understanding
  2. empowers students by allowing them to navigate their learning 
  3. creates meaningful learning experiences
  4. values seek and find over sit and get learning
  5. offers a collaborative learning environment for students to grow with one another versus next to one another
  6. offers opportunities to foster communication skills that will benefit them beyond the classroom
  7. establishes a culture that values student input
  8. builds trust from student to teacher and student to student
  9. promotes individuality and customization of learning
  10. allows students to value process over product thus embracing knowledge seeking over point chasing


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Pikto This! Student Voice & Choice Go Digital

Our building principal challenged us to create 5-5-5 goals.  We started with a 5 day goal, then a 5 week goal and finally a 5 month goal.  This blog post highlights my 5 week goal to create a virtual portfolio for my Spanish I students to display their work.

While this post outlines a Spanish lesson, I hope to generalize it so that it any content teacher can take these ideas and run with it!

I first revealed the Learning Targets through "I Can..." statements for the unit (seen here on the right).  I make these visible for all students to see throughout a unit.  I use a symbol or icon to mark the "I Can" statements a particular lesson focuses on.  This lesson hit all 4 "I Can" goals for the unit.

Anticipatory Set: Students pre-viewed a reading by scanning the text to determine the theme of the reading.  Next, students accessed directions made available to them via Google Drive on our Spanish Flipped4u class blog.  I

In order to honor that students learn in different time frames, I typically make available all directions to the students so that they can work at their own pace.  This frees me from stand and deliver instruction thus releasing me to support student learning needs as they work in small groups.

BEFORE YOU READING FURTHER, I want to address a couple of items:
  • This was a several day, in class project, with time also allowed to work at home.
  • There were a lot of details to the directions.
    • This was the perfect opportunity for me to teach students the value of reading directions. (I did this by simply redirecting students to the directions and asking them to restate what they understand and clarify what they need help with.  Doing this usually reveals the student did not fully read the directions.  However, this also encourages students to process information aloud.  Last but not least, this also helps me discover if my directions were worded poorly and need to be revised.)
    • This was also a great time to encourage small group learning and emphasize the value of the "ask 2 and then me" approach to working along side others.
      • Ask 2 students for support before asking the teacher.
    • This digital lesson was a great mash up of global competencies required of 21st century learners.
    • Last but not least, this lesson consistently offered student voice and choice which are key elements to a differentiated classroom.
Step 1:  Students worked in small groups OR individually in order to examine information (data) from the text to graph using Kids' Zone Learning with NCES.  
  • Student voice and choice is important to student learning. Allowing students to work in small groups allows them to process information together. However, there are individuals that prefer to work alone.  I keep all students in small groups so that even if a student wants to work alone, he/she is still seated with other students for support if needed.
  • Not every student graph looked the same.  Some students chose data based on what was literally said within the text, while other students drew conclusions from the text. (I love pushing them to higher order thinking! I simply walk the room and encourage students to think beyond the text by offering questions which cause them to dig deeper.)
Step 2:  Once students created the graph, they upload an image of graph to a Piktochart.  Piktochart is an amazing site that offers Infograph templates and fortunately, a good amount of the site is free.  Since money is limited, we went for the free stuff. Piktocharts provides a canvas for users to create interactive poster presentations.
  • This step continues supporting student voice and choice as Piktocharts allowed students to craft the design of their presentation.
  • Student voice was featured in this presentation as students:
    • discovered comparisons between themselves and information from the reading
    • wrote personal messages similar to those from the reading
    • chose graphics, icons and images of themselves related to their presentational writing
Click HERE to see Live Padlet Wall
Step 3: Students pinned their Piktocharts to a Padlet wall. Padlet is a free online bulletin board where you can have students pin URLs, Images or upload Attachments.

Step 4:  Students peer edited other students' Piktocharts offering constructive feedback on required elements and visual presentation. Based on student feedback, each student then evaluated if he/she needed to make any revisions.  
  • Peer to peer feedback and self-evaluation gave students ownership of their projects. 
Final Step:  Piktocharts has the ability to hyperlink text and upload videos.  For the final step, I created a Piktochart with images, audio and video detailing the final set of directions.  Students had to create and add an audio recording of themselves expanding on their presentation.  Students used Vocaroo for recording their voices.  Vocaroo offers a URL of the recording so that it can be shared with others.  In this instance, the recording was embedded in the Piktochart.

I always love evaluating my lessons along the way as well as when they come to an end.  Next time I will use a Piktochart to kick start the lesson in order to model what's to be expected of them.  Overall, I am thrilled with how this lesson turned out.  I feel a sense of pride in my students as I scroll through the Padlet wall, view the presentations and listen to authentic Spanish recording they created.

I think the mash up of these media tools can be easily implemented into any content class.  If you would like access to my detailed lesson plan, please leave me a message in the comment section of this blog or find me on Twitter (@differNtiated4u).