In November 2008 Speak Out – our provinces Student Engagement Initiative was launched. During that time thousands of Junior High and High School students have attended Speak Out Forums, Annual Speak Out Conferences, or been part of the Minister’s Student Advisory Council. They have also been encouraged to share their thoughts through the Speak Out website. In recent years it is quite impressive to look at the wide variety of opportunities students have been given to ‘have a say’ in the how, what, when, where, and why of their schooling. Rarely is there a public consultation on education without students being invited to the discussion table. And they have some excellent, innovative ideas about what leaning should look like. Adults almost always leave these forums agreeing that listening to the students was the most impressive part of the evening. But is anyone really listening?
Isn’t student voice an opportunity for them to share their experiences and ideas in order to help the people who make decisions understand the issues that are important to them, then take action. It seems to me that there is a lot of listening and very little action.
Later this month our grade 6 students will be visiting the Junior High School for an orientation. On that day they will tour the school, meet their grade 7 teachers, and be introduced to the school community. Leading up to that time we have decided to give them an opportunity to write blog posts, asking questions and informing their eventual grade 7 teachers of how they prefer to learn. This year, under the watchful eyes of two amazing teachers, they’ve been exposed to Kidblog, Edmodo, Collaborative Learning, Layered Curriculum, Glogster, Twitter, Skyping, Voki, Email, Moodle, Destiny Quest Library, Student-directed Learning, and a variety of other 21st century tools and competencies. They want to let their next teachers know that this is how they want to learn. They want their voices to be heard. Once their blog posts have been completed we will send the links directly to the Junior High School and await their comments.
I guess the big question is: Will they really listen?