Developing a Voice from a Whisper

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How do you "teach" students that their voice is important? Allow them to speak in the class and have say-so from the first day. This concept is taken from the ideas from November Learning's First Five Days of School. The first day of school I ask my students to share things about themselves- their highs and lows of life, personality traits, and what motivates and inspires them. Students are happy to share things about themselves and I am happy to have something to make a personal connection with them from day one. What I found is that since students know they matter they are more likely to speak up and out on topics and give input for class. In my classes I propose a concept for a multimedia project and the class works as a team to shape and develop the concept to be something they are interested in and is relevant to their life. Since giving students the opportunity to have a voice from day one I have found an immense increase in students contributing to the development of projects, rubrics, and team activities. Finally, in these projects students are encouraged express their own opinions and viewpoints. The scaffolding process of the students expressing themselves to me and the team, building their confidence in their voice, and confidence in their views is evident in the finished media projects. Student work has improved since encouraging the students to have a voice from the first day; I see more thought and reflection in work instead of restatement.

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