All Students Deserve a Voice

In every classroom, we teach many students including those less comfortable sharing in a group setting. When we have whole group or even small group discussions, how do we plan for those introverts who aren’t so comfortable in those conversations? How do we give those students a loud voice when we know they have one?

Often technology can provide the perfect outlet for our true introverts. It can give them a voice and a place to participate loudly in our classrooms. Here are a few of my favorite tools for such conversations.

  1. Today’s Meet: this provides a Twitter-like back channel for students. The teacher quickly and effortlessly sets up the “room.” Students get into the room (no login required) by following the link, typing in their name, and answering the question provided by the teacher. OR the teacher uses it as a parking lot space for questions throughout the class. Either way, quieter students find their voice.
  2. Spiral.ac: this has several functions but one is a wall where teachers can create a question (one on each wall) and students can answer the question. In this space, teachers can send the answer back to a particular student if he/she has not answered it completely or needs more detail. The teacher can organize several walls so that throughout a class period, the teacher could move from one to another as the teaching continues. This way the conversation or reflection moves from space to space.
  3. Padlet: similar to Spiral.ac in the wall function except it only has one wall per URL. Although in padlet, students can not only have conversations, but they can also upload videos, pictures, and documents to the wall to then share with one another. Great conversations!

So, if your students aren’t 13 and you’re not using individual social media accounts, these are some good ways to get them talking to one another throughout a class  period or across classes. See what you think!

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Comments

  1. “How do we give those students a loud voice when we know they have one?”

    You know, sometimes I had a loud voice and sometimes I didnt. But I know one thing for certain– I didnt want to be there. Sometimes I just wanted to be left alone.

    The US has this wonderful idea enshrined in the 5th Amendment that you cant really compel speech. (Thats sort of an extension of the 1st, too.) Oh, in school though…

    Anyway, if you really want everyone to have a voice, get rid of school altogether– it silences children both verbally and stunts their creativity;. It trains them to be superficial, beginning with how teachers evaluate students all the way up to how schools evaluate teachers and states evaluate schools. But if you dont get rid of school then at least turn it into something that is good for kids.

    It isnt teachers that make school terrible or even kids, mostly. Mostly its the school itself that really stinks. I loved learning, until I went to school. Then I had to wait until it was over to go back to learning in the evening. Its a pox, and youre required to go. They will never get it right, no matter how they “reform” it, because the concept is flawed. Learning is exploration, and school makes you a passenger– passive– a hostage, to information that you could be making friends with instead. Good luck!

    • You’re quite right! We can’t reform school but rather need to transform it from the ground up. We need to look at it completely differently! It should reflect life and be authentic and not so different from life! Students should learn through play and real experiences. We’ll get there-it’s just going to take time. There are pockets of people doing the right work!

      • There will always be people doing the right work– they need to continue.

        The short answer to your question of how kids can have a loud voice is to keep listening to them– keep repeating what theyre saying more loudly– and teach them how to be louder. above all, dont be over-eager to mediate. Everyone is a mediator these days; The fact that kids often have fewer filters is a good thing, sometimes. School has too many.

  2. Oh wait, im being a pessimist again. Ok, heres optimist me.

    How do you give all students a voice? Real answer: Give all teachers a voice. You and I both know that isnt really how it really is. Not all teachers really have a voice. And you obviously care from your heart and soul that students are represented / advocated for / self-advocate, so solve that problem for teachers and I promise, it will also work for students.

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