Here are 10 ways to empower students in a connected world.
1. Practice positive reinforcement
Students should want to find their voice. Make it a positive experience.
2. Allow for creative expression
Students should be given the freedom not only to voice what they think but also to voice it however they choose. Let them be creative with the how and you will most likely be pleased with the what.
3. Give students more discussion time to explore and develop their ideas
Many of us are afraid that we won't be able to cover all the material we need to cover if we devote too much time to discussion. The truth is, discussion enhances learning and memory, as does forming an opinion about a topic. Use this to your advantage and you won't have a time crunch on your hands at all.
4. Offer more engaging prompts
The best marketing and advertising provokes us on emotional, personal, or comical levels. Try using these same strategies to get students to speak out on topics covered in your curriculum.
Perhaps one of the best tools available for supporting student voice, blogging has become a common platform in schools across the world.
6. Use social media in new ways (ed note: this item was added by TeachThought editors in an update of this post)
Using social media to promote and share and document is a fairly well-established practice in the classroom. But finding new ways to use social media–for change, for research, or for critical thinking, for example–can help students not just 'connect' but connect in intentional and specific ways.
While using social in this capacity seems obvious and can get messy with privacy concerns and even 'what they're actually learning' issues, in the modern classroom, social media is likely the most powerful way a student can 'connect' with other people and ideas on a large scale–assuming that kind of scale fits the need of the lesson or project.
7. Podcasting or VoiceThread
Tools like podcasting and VoiceThread bridge the gap between real-time discussions and standard video lectures or online presentations. This makes both great platforms for teaching, learning, training, and for students.
8. YouTube Channels
Invite students to create their own educational videos to post on YouTube.
9. Digital storytelling
If you haven't tried this one yet, give it a go. The topics used in digital storytelling range from personal tales to the recounting of historical events, from exploring life in one's own community to the search for life in other corners of the universe, and literally, everything in between.
10. Writing in the voice of a character
Emulating a character from a book or a film is a great way to 'try out' different voices.
How have you stayed connected with your students in this digital world?