Tools to Elevate Student Voice

Today’s Contributor: Christina Tannert

I am a music teacher at Doss Elementary. This is my fifth year of teaching at Doss. I graduated from Trinity University in 2013! I currently sing with Panoramic Voices, and I am also a contributing author to Music Memory curriculum materials, used in many elementary schools throughout the US. I love swing dancing, and singing to my two cats in my spare time.


We’ve heard a lot lately about incorporating student voice into our school communities. We know that students are more engaged in their education when they feel that their opinions and suggestions are sought after and valued. Many teachers in AISD use SEL strategies to incorporate student voice in creating class norms and expectations, but how do we continue that good work into the learning process and broader school community? How do we scaffold this for younger students, or students who haven’t considered a larger picture of their education before?

In a short and informative article on this subject, Jennifer Snelling suggests 8 strategies for including student voices in everyday classroom activities:

  1.       Brainstorm
  2.       Debate
  3.       Vote
  4.       Survey
  5.       Student-led Conferences
  6.       Social Media
  7.       Genius Hour
  8.       Projects

These strategies can all be used IRL, no tech needed. I’d like to highlight a few tech tools, however, that can help you and your students refresh and enhance these tried-and-true classroom strategies. As a music teacher, I especially love using some of these tools because they allow multiple classes of students to connect and communicate with each other.

Brainstorming AnswerGarden a tool where students can input answers to a question and see the results pop up in real time. When multiple students put the same answer in, the words get bigger.
Debate 12 Resources for you Class’ First Debate
Vote Plickers – a quick way to solicit feedback or vote on something in class
Survey See FlipGrid below!
Student-led Conferences Class Dojo – students and parents can see work samples and behavior notes all in one place!
Social Media SeeSaw – students can put up work samples and explanations for their parents to see
Genius Hour Genius Hour – help students find projects that line up with their passions (here’s a Google Slides presentation that will help students think through an idea for a project)
Projects TakingITGlobal and PenPal Schools are both great places to find projects where students take the reins and work with other students to learn and problem solve. PenPal Schools is an Austin-based company!

And my personal favorite: Flipgrid

Flipgrid is great for so many things, and you can find so many great ideas from teachers on Twitter and the FlipGrid resources page. I love that shy students who may not speak up in class discussion can contribute through their videos. I can also attest to the benefits of letting students show their personalities a little bit in their “video confessionals” and selfie stickers. I need a little reminder every once in a while that those 5th graders are in fact pleasant human beings on occasion! Also, Flipgrid does not require a log in or any set up on the part of the students!

Here are the results from our survey:

What was your favorite use of technology at Doss this year?

1 Comment

  1. I love the Flipgrid idea, but I am wondering about some specific ways you are using it in your classroom. Do you use it more as an assessment tool, or for collaboration between students.

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