Amplifying Student Voice During Remote Learning and in the Classroom

Soroya Smith

Soroya Smith is a second grade classroom teacher and DEI leader at the Mason Early Childhood Center. She is passionate about creating and advocating for equitable and safe spaces of joy, authentic learning, and creativity for learners of all ages. Twitter: @SoroyaSmithMEd


As we stretch ourselves in new ways to serve our learners remotely, relationships continue to be the important center of our work. When we find meaningful ways to amplify the voices of our students, we communicate to them that they are seen and what they have to say matters.

For example, our son’s preschool teacher, Ms. Jill, does a daily Facebook Live Morning Meeting and Read Aloud. He loves to watch and give feedback with hearts to show how much he loves something Ms. Jill does on screen. The opportunity to actively engage with the read aloud allows him to be a part of the experience, to have his voice amplified. Watching the energy take place between this interaction during a read aloud makes me think of the Responsive Classroom practice of using a sign language “connection sign” during read alouds. Students are able to show a connection sign when they connect with something that is read (this can range from reading the book before, or having a personal connection with the character etc.).

 

As we navigate remote learning, how can we continue to give students the opportunity to offer feedback and take on an active role in learning experiences?

Amplifying Voice Remotely

Some ways I am thinking through giving learners an opportunity to actively engage with read alouds remotely are:

  • Facebook Live: Students can interact and chat if you do a Facebook Live read aloud as mentioned above.
  • Flipgrid: Giving students the opportunity to interact via Flipgrid. Teachers can post read alouds with a Flipgrid link. Students can then leave responses with emojis and reply to each other.
  • Video conference platform: Utilizing Zoom, Google Hangouts or a similar video chat platform allows students to see each other’s reactions as they are reading the text and have a background conversation in the chat window as the teacher is reading.
  • Seesaw post: Many teachers use Seesaw and teachers can drop a read aloud into the whole class portfolio. Students can then interact with the post with likes if they are turned on. They can also comment with emojis and messages. In my classroom, students love to comment on the shared posts to each other.
  • Family Discussion Prompt: Students can have discussions with their families about the read alouds to have opportunities to engage and have their voice amplified.

 

When we are face to face in the classroom once again, how can we give learners an opportunity to bring this same energy from remote learning?

Amplifying Voice in the Classroom

Remote learning can be an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the experience and extend back into the classroom. For example: Do we notice any differences in behavior and attitudes? What do our remote discipline practices look like? What does the interaction between student and adult look like? How are we partnering with families?

The following table is a collection of my wonderings based on the tools I am engaging with in remote learning to amplify voice back in the classroom when we resume together again.

 

Amplifying Voice Remotely Amplifying Voice in the Classroom
Facebook Live How can we allow students to react in a variety of ways to read alouds/instruction? Can we co-create hand signals, sign language motions, or have emoji paddles to use on cue during a morning meeting, share time, read aloud? How could we pause and allow for student engagement-turn and talks?
Flipgrid How can we integrate Flipgrid in the classroom to allow students to check in and respond to each other? Can students have a question they respond to upon arrival, what if students started their own Flipgrid topic for students to respond to an experience they had from the weekend, a week night activity, a book they have read? How can we utilize Flipgrid as a brainstorm to make sure all students are able to weigh in on an idea?
Video Conference Platform Now that students have used video conference platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet—what can collaboration look like between classes? How can we use this capability to reach out to experts and favorite authors? Are their opportunities for us to engage with families and the larger community through the use of video conferencing offering additional opportunities to support and be a part of the classroom? What virtual field trips and tours can we access to add depth to the learner experience? How can we use apps/software such as Screencastify to empower students to capture and broadcast what they know to an authentic audience?
Seesaw How can we use Seesaw to keep families updated of what is going on in the classroom as well as a way to assign activities/media/links to students? How can we encourage students to comment on the portfolios of each other? What do families find as the most helpful “shares?” How frequently would they like to have work and thinking shared? How can we check in with students that have little content in their portfolio?
Family Discussion Prompt We check in with families frequently during remote learning—often offering further discussion and activities for them to do at home. What can we do to ensure families will continue to feel connected to learning? How can we allow them to continue to connect with the curriculum and partner with us in offering learning experiences? How can we offer discussion prompts or at home activities to empower families to see learning as applicable to home and various environments outside of school?

 

As we continue to learn together remotely, we can extend our thoughtful and innovative practices to build something better than what was left behind.

 

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