Thursday, October 27, 2016

Voice - Who should it belong too?

Here is my Ignite in video format (Words although not exact to ignite below)

Are you tired at night?  

Do you sometimes leave the job dragging and wondering if you can make it another day?  

Do you drive home and say to yourself maybe I need different work?  

Do you know that you are working too hard and yet don’t know what to do?

Do you think of education as a package you need to deliver?

What if rather than a unit or plan you thought of lessons as collection of experiences with multiple opportunities for students to show you knowledge with creativity in their own method.  

Besides we are all aware of how we have shorter attention spans than ever! Some of you have already started to tune you out.  I know, I am beginning to see it right here! Already!

I don’t see this as a bad thing, I see this as an opportunity, but we have shift our thinking around what we put in front of students.  

I was told once and once believed that I was an entertainer and needed to be one as a teacher.  

This is inherently a disaster.

Which like a snow storm, may be fun to watch until you have to dig out afterwards.  If you are always needed to drive everything, on days when you are off, the whole train runs off the tracks.   


You must give voice to others and in turn give up power.  You may have to show them how and you may have to push them a bit, but your ultimate goal is to give voice to others.   


You must give the voice to the student.  You will need to ask good questions and need to have good tasks for them, but ultimately, get out of the way and let them speak, write, solve, or do whatever.    

You must make them do the work not by yelling or demanding, but by showing them there is no other way.

You must establish an atmosphere of creators.

You must foster an environment where students know to seek each other out or go through a feedback process independently before claiming, “I am done!”

Just stop talking so much!  

Don’t be that person that you all have seen speak. The person that after, “hello my name is….” you have already tuned them out.  

Trust me, no matter how captivating you think you are as an educator and how great you think your jokes are, by November even your most loyal student is beginning to say, “why don’t they just shut up”.

Create activities that require them to explain verbally, write reflections or observations, record their thinking, conference with them one on one, ask them good questions, and a million other ideas.

Not only about the content they are learning, but also how they “feel” about that content.  Always try to bring it back to a feeling, where they have to think through their own experiences and history to explain.  

No matter the age, they will never get tired of telling you what they “think”!


Here is an example of what I am talking about.  What does he mean “feel”, that makes no sense to me.

What would keep your interest more?

A typical pool is 5.5 feet deep and 10 X 20 feet wide and long. How many cubic feet is that?


Are you a diver or a lap swimmer? What is important to you in a pool?  What would the dimensions of your pool need to be to satisfy your needs.  Label each dimension and identify the cubic feet so we know how much water to have delivered.

You won’t get a standard answer.  You may not know the answer right away, this is a good thing, ask them to prove it and explain why they chose those dimensions.  They now have to apply some emotion and opinion to math.  

This is a very basic changes in wording to a question.  I would challenge you to come up with much more creative multi-tiered tasks.

Remember standards do not require answers.  They require you to think, explain, share, and apply what they learn.  Please remember that.  


It is not good enough to stop or only allow students to tell you what they learned.  I can ask Google questions and it can literally tell me what it has found.  Ask them to tell you from different perspective including their own.  

I want to know how they “feel” about what they have learned.  
I want them to “explain” in their own words what they learned.
I want them to “apply” to a new medium what they learned.
I want them to “share” what they learned, possibly with a link.

If we can get them to that, a link, then they can share it with anyone.  I want them to know that what they share is important, what they share does matter, and what they share should be shared.  The creation of something as simple as a link is proof that you have confidence in their message.

As I speak on the mic, I ask you to give up yours.  I am tired, I am working too hard, I have already said too much, I need to hand this off!  

You need to show students they are going to change the world, not us.  But in order for that to happen, we have to get them ready to lead their own voice, not be told what to say.  

We just want to allow, push, maybe even hard at times, and help them just develop their own voice.

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