My Challenge To You

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “student voice.” Our school has been focusing on this topic as part of our School Improvement Plan, but it was a student from our Board blogging community that’s had me thinking even more.

As many of you know, my collection of blogs are hosted on the HWDSB Commons: a Board blogging platform created and monitored by Jared Bennett. One great thing about the Commons is that students, teachers, administrators, superintendents, and our Director of Education, all blog together on this same platform. Anyone that is watching the Activity Stream then can view the blog posts — and depending on the blog settings — comment on them. I’ve known that this is the case, but over the holidays, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a comment on my professional blog from Yusra: a student in our Board.

I’ve never taught Yusra before, but she’s interacted with many of my students through the Commons: commenting on student blogs when I taught Grades 1 and 2, and even last year, in Grade 6. She’s never commented on one of my blog posts before though, and I was thrilled that she did. She didn’t stop with this single comment though. She’s now become one of my most prolific blog commenters (if that’s even a word), engaging in some amazing conversations and asking some incredibly thoughtful questions.

2014-01-08_20-50-33Reading Yusra’s regular comments have reminded me that student voice matters, and that we need to hear more of these student voices. So it was with this student in mind that I did something today that I’ve never done before. This morning, we started exploring the area of polygons. Students shared their learning in a variety of ways all captured in our Daily Shoot Blog Post from today. After they discussed their learning during our Math Congress, I asked the class a series of questions that I’ve never asked before:

1) Who first thought that this activity was interesting? (Students raised their hands to answer.)

2) Who first thought that this activity was boring? (Students raised their hands to answer.)

3) If you first thought it was boring, what did you do to make it more interesting?

It was this last question that not only allowed for “student voice,” but made students aware that they always have a “choice” in their learning, and that they can tailor this learning to meet their needs and to excite them. I really enjoyed hearing their answers as well. Here are some of their responses:

  • I decided to make my shapes on geoboards. I love creating and measuring shapes on geoboards, so this made the activity much more fun. JS
  • I drew the shapes on the grid paper. I made some really hard shapes, and I tried to challenge myself to make them as hard as possible and still figure out the area. JM
  • I recorded a video explaining what I did and how I did it. It was fun to explain my thinking in a video. AS
  • I recorded a news broadcast teaching others about area. I could then challenge myself to see if I could explain to someone else what I now knew how to do. LE
  • I tried to create different shapes that had the same area. It was fun to see how many different polygons I could make with the same area … and it was challenging! TW

From now on, I’m going to remember to take more opportunities to hear this “student voice.” If you’re not already doing so, will you join me in this challenge? How can we give our students more opportunities to have this bigger voice in the classroom? I’d love to hear your ideas!



5 thoughts on “My Challenge To You

  1. Mrs.Dunsiger, you make me proud to be so appreciated by a teacher in such a way! Thank you for your perspective about my thinking! I think it is great that a teacher is thinking of me as a good influence. Your students have responded well and you have recieved many perspectives and opinions.
    Thanks again for this appreciation! 🙂

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