5-Minute Film Festival: Student Voice and Choice
What exactly does it mean when people talk about “student voice and choice” in the context of educational institutions? Educators are constantly considering the best ways to engage the young people with whom they work; perhaps one of the most effective methods of capturing their attention is right in front of us. The likelihood of students being engaged in their education increases dramatically if they believe that their opinions and ideas are heard and valued by both their peers and their teachers. These seven videos provide strategies for empowering your students to take more responsibility in their lessons and day-to-day classroom activities.
Video Playlist: Student Voice and Choice
The Student’s Point of View (1:10)
In case you’re completely unfamiliar with the concept of student voice, Imagine Education provides a helpful overview of the overall concept and the four major steps to making student voice successful.
Student Input and Choice: Students Make Decisions at Their Own Pace (2:21)
Early on in a student’s education, you can empower them to make decisions about their own learning. See how James H. Bean Elementary School in Maine strives to empower its younger students by implementing flexible schedules and allowing them to work at their own pace. This is an excellent illustration of how student choice can be implemented at the school level.
The Importance of Student Participation (9:26)
Make your own determination by listening to a student’s own words about the subject matter. TED-x speaker Catherine Zhang, a high school junior, makes an impassioned case for the importance of involving students in important school decisions, even if it means devoting more time and resources to the task.
Student Councils and the Right to Speak Out (2:12)
It’s very likely that you already have a student council at your school that is an effective and well-established vehicle for student voice: the student government. In this video, current student council members discuss the various ways in which student councils can ensure that all student voices are heard and considered when making decisions about the council.
If Students Were in Charge of Creating Their Own Schools (14:25)
Student agency is explored in depth in this excellent video by Charles Tsai, which profiles an experimental programme at a Maryland high school that takes student agency to a bold new level. A semester-long programme in which students design their own curriculum, act as teachers to one another, and even grade themselves is offered to participants.
Russ Quaglia is a student activist (4:30)
Academic Russ Quaglia, through his nonprofit organisation QISA, advocates for student agency. In this video, he discusses his personal philosophy of student voice, which includes the notion that “every student has something to teach us.”
Hackschooling is a source of joy for me (11:13)
Given how widely this brilliant TED talk was shared on social media upon its initial release, it’s likely that you’ve already seen it, but it’s worth mentioning it again. Throughout the video, Logan, an articulate and bright adolescent, describes how homeschooling has worked for him, and he makes the case for education that can take place anywhere and at any time.
More Resources on Using Student Voice to Your Advantage
Possibly you still have unanswered questions about student participation and choice. While maintaining the overall direction of the lesson, how can educators encourage students to take an active role in their own educational experience? Is there such a thing as too much student agency in the first place? There are a plethora of different ways to make a difference in student voice, no matter how small the change. Every little bit helps. Take a look at these resources for ideas on how to get started!