Slaughter's Tech Moment

Giving Students Voice

Students Want to Know They Matter!

Students just like teachers want to know what they are doing is important. The grade for many is not as important to them as knowing they are doing something that is considered important or valuable.

Students need a VOICE!

We have to teach them how to have a VOICE! Students need to learn how to think for themselves, how to make connections to other information, and how to communicate those thoughts in a way that can make others listen.

How do we get students to be more critical in their thinking process?

Students must learn to:

  • Look for patterns, relationships, and meaning beyond the obvious.
  • Use their imaginations. Why do students like special class so much? There is usually no right and wrong, therefore they feel free to think and create.
  • Reflect on what has been shared.
  • Ask questions, not just simply give an answer.

Lessons for Giving Students a Voice

  • Dear Librarian: Writing a Persuasive Letter- (Grades 3-5) You could pick the top 10, and those books would be purchased for the school library. (Change the topic to environment issues, a review of a proposed law, or change the format to an essay and you could use this with the upper grades)
  • Some other possible ideas to give them Voice are located on ReadWriteThink.
  • Math Sites that incorporate Real-World Issues that can get your class talking.
  • Lower Elementary- Giving students an opportunity to share their writing, projects, and assignments are a great way to begin giving them a voice. It could be as simple as having each student share something they learned about a topic, and then you ask questions that will help them delve deeper. Check out the question PDF in the Socratic Method below.
  • Great Depression Project- (Grade 2- 12) Students used VoiceThread to create a class slideshow. Students wrote a journal entry based on a given photograph from the time period. Other people made comments on their project. If you are unfamiliar with VoiceThread, click the arrows at the far right to go through the slide. The buttons at the far left will allow you to play the slide and go through comments made by viewers. Guide for getting started.

Guided Talking Leads to Deeper Thinking- We have to set it all in motion

Ignite Their Voice

A great way to give students a voice is to have Ignite Talks. Ignite Talks are fast paced five minute talks on a topic. These talks are similar to poetry slams. Performers have a short amount of time to share material and evoke some type of emotion or belief.

How does it work?

Speakers have 20 slides to share their message. Here is the kicker to the Ignite Talks; each slide automatically moves in 15 seconds. This helps speakers to create concise speeches that cut to the chase in 5 minutes or less. The speaker carefully selects pictures and a very limited amount of text to evoke an emotion, but the focus is on the speaker.

How it translates to a classroom?

Teachers could use this as an assessment of student knowledge gained and "ignite" classroom conversations. Pair this with the Socratic Approach and create an expedition of thought. Students of today need to begin thinking critically and this method is very engaging for all students involved.

How to incorporate technology?

These talks are so quick that students remain attentive. These talks can be incorporated in any subject and are sure to “ignite” conversations.

Ignite Show: Scott Berkun - "Why and How to Give an Ignite Talk", Ep 19.

“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think”- Socrates

How can this work in the classroom?

An idea to get kids motivated in learning would be to have a group of students read a book, or research a topic like famous court cases. The teacher guides the group through the process of researching or studying the book, case, topic, etc. This involves allowing students some freedom of how they approach the topic. The teacher can lead them a certain direction during meetings, but the ultimate direction is dependent on the group that is creating the presentation or open discussion (see video below).

How do I incorporate technology?

Students create a short presentation using Prezi, Powtoon, Haiku, etc., then there is an open discussion. This should be focused on questions and delving deeper into the topic. This can be done in class or in a true expedition manner where a live audience is invited.


Some examples of questions to get things started and would be great to give the groups before the open discussion. Here are student guidelines and a rubric to help direct their thinking as well.

How to do the Socratic Method - TeachLikeThis