I think that educators’ definitions for the term student voice are inconsistent – some seem to believe that it simply means – hearing each student’s answer or thinking
– while others believe that it means empowering the students to have a voice in some (or all!) aspects of their education.
Mike made it clear in his response that he subscribes to the 2nd “definition” of student voice. His response fits with the description that Edutopia uses: student voice involves letting “students’ input and expertise … help shape their classroom, their school, and ultimately their own learning and growth.”
I definitely believe that that is the type of student voice that we want to strive for. In a recent #EduDuctTape chat, educators shared their favorite tool for empowering student voice. It’s important to note that simply using the tool doesn’t provide opportunity for or empowerment of student voice. It’s all about how you use it.
When my friend Dave Ternent and I started teaching a middle school STEM course back in 2012, one of the first tools that we selected for the course was SketchUp.
SketchUp is a free 3D modeling computer program made by Trimble and, for a while, owned by Google. It was the perfect introduction to 3D-modeling, architecture and engineering for middle schoolers: powerful, but relatively easy to learn.
After seeing the awesomeMatt England present at a local tech conference about his use of SketchUp with middle schoolers we even had information from someone who had used it about how to best introduce it. Matt was kind enough to share his resources during the session.
Based on Matt’s information, we had our students make shapes with certain dimensions as they learned to use it (see image). After that, they moved up to creating a 3-hole putt-putt (mini-golf) course that fit within a certain area (see image). They got very creative with those courses, which is great, but you could also extend this to tons of curriculum standards! Surface area, Roman architecture, volume, locations from literature, measurement, earthquake-resistant houses, perimeter, developing cities . . . I could go on and on. But I stopped using SketchUp. Why? It didn’t work on Chromebooks.
Until recently! SketchUp is now available on the web, which means that you can use it on Chromebooks! Check out the animated GIF below showing me using SketchUp. Imagine the possibilities for students!
(Note: this post previously linked to an “old” post from SketchUp for Schools. I updated the link to point to a newer post on 9.12.2020)
This post originally appeared on the Screencastify blog, here.
We all know how important it is for students to demonstrate
their understanding of a particular subject or problem by “showing their work.” If your students are using tablets, there are a number of great interactive whiteboard recording apps that allow students to write with a stylus, annotate images and provide audio explanations.
But what about the large student population who are using Chromebooks, not tablets? Some new Chromebooks have touch screens and a small number are ready to roll with Android apps, but for the majority of our students, this type of recording feature is nowhere in their near future. And it’s a great feature! What’s better than telling a student to “show their work”!? Telling them to “explain their work” or, better yet, narrate it.
As an educational technology advocate and problem-solver, I am always looking for a hack. And, here’s my hack for this. Tell your students: “click on the Screencastify extension, select Cam, spin the computer around, aim it at a piece of paper, starting writing or drawing and explain away.” In short, spin it around, write it down, explain with sound.