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High School Math Teacher

Question about the Matrix

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@Bill does your school have the matrix of Inclusion, Integration, Transformation, Empowerment for all seven elements? If so, did your school make them up or did they get them from a resource?

It reminds me of the Florida and Arizona Technology Matrix. I found it very helpful in understanding the range of possibilities when it comes to integrating technology in a certain environment. I think a matrix is helpful for teachers when implementing something. It lets a teacher know the levels in which they can be implementing an element of your PBL model. Do your teachers find it helpful?

Science teacher and curriculum coach in Bellevue, WA

More thoughts on testing . . .

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I’d like to think that preparing for standardized tests and listening to students are not mutually exclusive. Whether it’s an AP exam or state end of course science test, I haven’t felt like I needed to sacrifice student voice for the sake of the exam preparation. Sometimes the two have actually gone together – when teaching AP chemistry, I would have former students return to share their experience with test preparation. Past students convinced current students that one of the most valuable parts of the course was a month spent taking and correcting practice exams; this is where they were able to organize and apply all the different concepts and skills. I am also noticing that when students are given more opportunities to take and analyze their performance on high stakes tests (PSAT, SAT, PLAN, ACT), they can better use their voice to advocate for learning aligned with their college and career goals. The students offer insight into motivation and engagement, and the classroom strategies that move towards growth on these important measures.

Most teaching decisions we make involve some kind of tension (coverage vs. depth, individual vs. group, accommodations vs. modifications) that require us to constantly evaluate our practice. Part of what makes the grant work at SHS interesting is our theory of action says listening to student voice (and paying attention to the other elements of PBL) is what will make a difference in the number of students passing courses and standardized tests. We also recognize that student voice isn’t enough by itself – which is why we’re invested in programs like Read-180 and AVID, and why we have six other key elements of problem-based learning in addition to student voice. I hope the ongoing evaluation here supports our working assumption that engaging and involving students in their learning is a key step towards student growth. Seeing progress is the incentive four our staff . . .

7 and 8 grade Social Studies Teacher

Balancing Act

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What about the test?? All this talk about creativity, student voice, blah , blah , blah. If your students score poorly on the standardized test you will be in trouble. Finding the balancing point between getting ready for the big state test and running a wonderful classroom is difficult.

Distance Education Specialist

The Value of a Students Voice

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There's a very strong value to a students voice because it prepares the student for whats to come in the future, a person that will need to stand up for what's right. Great article, really does break down the value of a student's voice very well.


What about testing?

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I love the idea of giving students a voice in their education. In fact, the more student-directed education can be, the better. But in this educational climate there is so much pressure to cover the material that teaches the standards so that students do well on their state's standardized test. In Florida, teacher pay is actually tied to how students perform on these tests. But these tests don't assess critical thinking, creativity, or collaboration. And while there is so much pressure for students to pass standards-based multiple choice tests, teachers don't have any extrinsic incentive to focus on skills that are actually valuable in the real world (such as the aforementioned critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration).

In terms of giving students a voice, most students will wish to do projects that involve these valuable real-world skills. They won't ask to take practice tests or learn test-taking strategies. They won't want to cover a subject just because it is one of their state's standards.

So how do we provide incentives for teachers to actually allow their students to have a voice in their education?

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