What place does student voice have in planning?

DSC_0342As the children prepare for learning conferences, I started off the process not by asking them on what they learned but which unit they felt they gained the most from and which unit they felt needed improvement.

The children were thrilled to give feedback. More importantly, it was an opportunity for me to demonstrate the qualities I wish to see in my learners: reflection, initiative and the ability to take on feedback.

At this point in the year we have completed three units of inquiry:

  • Human exploration results in new discoveries.
  • Energy is used (converted, transformed and controlled) to support human progress.
  • Fashion expresses our views and beliefs.

The class was divided in which unit they enjoyed most:

“I liked that we could use our creativity and design clothes for the fashions shows
(with some inspiration ) . We got to learn about the fashion from different places and time.”

“I liked putting the circuits together and I also liked showing our parents and the high school our work it was hard but fun at the same time…”

“What I liked about our unit fashion express our views and beliefs,
is we got to use our imagination to design…”

From these comments I know that the children in my class value

  • Making and creating – they want to show their understanding with their hands
  • Sharing their learning – with their peers, their families and members of the school community
  • Challenging – these units were the ones were the children didn’t want to leave at the end of the day

 There was one unit  the children were nearly unanimous in a need for improvement – the discovery unit at the start of the year.  At first the kids were scratching their heads – I can’t remember that unit. 

“Isn’t that an important thing for teachers to know?” I asked.

Some other feedback:

“by doing more of showing the other classes about it…”

“It need improvement because we did not learn very much because it felt like it flew by.”

“The unit was very short and if we had more time we would know a lot more about the UOI…”

“We didn’t make anything in this unit like we did in the other units…”

The children’s comments again make me think:

  • Was the writing focus wrong – dry report writing. Would narratives of putting themselves in the picture help make this unit come alive?
  • Leave time at the start of the year rather than ‘launching’ into an inquiry. Perhaps the start of the year needs to have its own inquiry rather than launching straight into a UOI?
  • Were the trips to Singapore and Malacca valuable. Do they need to be re-thought? Smaller, more frequent trips rather than long days out?

Having a small number of units to discuss helped pinpoint areas for discussion yet the children being able to compare and contrast between units and what helps them learn best.

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