Giving students the opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions

Quite often I hear students complaining about an assessment or a teacher in particular that they don't see eye to eye with (sometimes that's me). Eager to find out more and get a better understanding of where they were coming from, I gave my Year 10 (ages 14-15) class the opportunity to share their thoughts in a safe environment.

Rather than giving them the freedom to come from a deficit head space, I gave them 3 options for what they could centre their presentation around. These were

  • How I like to learn
  • What do I think an innovative/good teacher looks like?
  • Our school is a good place to learn because...

Instead of focusing on the negative aspects, I used these questions as starting points to come from a constructive perspective.

They were allowed to communicate their ideas in any format, using practical, verbal or digital means, giving them freedom to create in a way they enjoyed.

Surprisingly, every student took this project seriously. The presentations were respectful and well explained.

What I learnt during this experience was, that allowing students to share their voices and opinions provided a sense of belonging and empowerment. Given this opportunity, they were engaged and motivated, which enhanced their learning experience. This project encouraged critical thinking, creativity, and confidence, as the students learnt to articulate their ideas and perspectives. I teach a creative subject of Design and Visual Communication, and even I was pleasantly surprised by their skills and creativity.

There was a mixture of drawings, paragraph writing, and digital outcomes. Here are 2 examples of digital outcomes that were produced.

  1. This student created a gamified presentation using Keynote - showing that he likes to learn and explain his learning through creative projects. He wishes more teachers allowed him to learn and create through digital means.
  2. This student created an animation using Keynote - using line drawing and text to communicate what he thinks a good teacher does and doesn't do. He likes a calm teacher who listens, and explains things well.


All Replies

Posted on May 29, 2024

Wonderful approach to getting to know your students. Your three questions are perfect prompts for creating some thoughtful projects. And great that students had a choice of expression. Thanks for sharing your student work!

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