Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How to ensure student voice in PBL? Ask the experts.

Encouraging student voice seems like a no-brainer when it comes to PBL. Designing projects to connect with students' interests is a surefire strategy for increasing engagement. Encouraging students to ask questions that matter to them helps to drive inquiry throughout the project.

But how often do we ask students to share their strategies for amplifying their own voice in learning?
Zak Malamed (@zakmal) started #stuvoice to ensure that students get heard in school reform conversations. What began as a Twitter hashtag has grown into a movement. Zak and team have formed a nonprofit (stuvoice.org), recruited corporate and nonprofit allies, and will host the second Student Voice Live! summit on Sept. 20 in New York. (I first met Zak at the Clinton Global Initiative for youth and have enjoyed watching him bring #stuvoice to a variety of settings, including #iste2014.)

How can teachers develop their ear for student insights? For starters, check out Student Voice in a Box, a collection of interviews and project ideas. Follow #stuvoice. Learn from (adult) experts like Russell Quaglia (DrRussQ), who combines research with practical strategies to ensure that students have a say in their learning experience. And invite your students to share their ideas. What matters most to them when it comes to learning? How and when do they learn best? What makes them curious? They might respond by generating project ideas you'd never imagine, identifying community issues they want to tackle, or lobbying for solutions to make their own education more relevant and engaging.