Learn. Reflect. Lead.

Learn. Reflect. Lead.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Give Students a Voice...Literally

I am so thrilled to be in a new teaching position, at a new school, in a new district, with a new philosophy. It has afforded me the autonomy to design learning experiences for my students that empower them to tell their stories. I have also had the pleasure of designing these experiences with my new colleagues.

Imagine 3 teachers (me - the tech teacher, the language arts teacher and the art teacher) sitting around a table waiting for a staff meeting to start in early August.
     "So in October I usually do an immigration writing project that coincides with the Dias de los Muertos art unit in the art class," says Cary, the language arts teacher, "but I want to change my project up this year to teach my kids how to write a biographical narrative using an interview as the planning piece. Would you be willing---"
      "Could we podcast the narratives!" I almost scream out excitedly.
      "That would be totally cool," Cary agrees.

Four weeks ago my 7th graders began their podcast project that coincided with creating Dias de los Muertos skull art, alters, etc. and writing biographical narratives and poems about family members in language arts. Students chose which family member they wanted to podcast about and created a list of interview questions in language arts. At the same time we started a genre study on podcasting in my technology class. We listened to podcasts from Storycorp and Radiolab and analyzed them for audience, purpose, content, context, and structure using this form. We especially paid close attention to structure because we needed ideas for how to structure our own podcasts. We also used these KWHLAQ charts (idea from Silvia Tolisano) to keep track of our learning. Next we explored Garageband for a few days to learn how to import audio tracks, create original music, and edit tracks. We then launched into putting together our podcasts about our family members, following these instructions.

I am so excited to share some of my students' work. Through the course of designing a learning experience that encompassed multiple disciplines and the learning of new tech tools, students were given a voice to share their stories. It is through their storytelling that you learn about who they are and where they come from. These podcasts will now be shared via QR codes within the Dias de los Muertos Art Exhibit in our multipurpose room in a few weeks. 

This project made me laugh, cry, and allowed me to get some perspective on my students and their families. Not only did my students learn some valuable academic lessons, I learned about my students. I call that a win-win!

Literally giving my students a voice in this project allowed them to learn on so many levels, gave their families a role in the learning, and gave the opportunity to create a keep sake to cherish for a very long time. 


  1. Great idea. I'm going to share this with my teachers

    1. Thx Ryan! I'm more than happy to answer any questions your teachers may have. :)


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Learn. Reflect. Lead. by Trisha Sanchez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.