Shannon McClintock Miller is passionate about giving
students a voice and urging adults to listen to those voices. Last fall, Miller,
who is the district teacher librarian and technology integrationist at Van Meter
Community School in Iowa, set out to listen to youth voices on a grand scale.
She created a survey designed to get at what young people want from school and
from the adults who work in them. She blogged about the survey and shared it to
her vast PLN on Twitter. And she received hundreds of responses from students as
far away as Hong Kong and Australia.
The results of
that survey were the impetus for her K12 Online preconference keynote,
which she co-presented in October alongside fourth grader Meridan Boyd. "We
can make a difference and transform education by asking our students to share
what they want from us," Miller said.
keynote, she reveals 10 categories of student yearnings and how her school
community sets out to meet them:
- Let us be connected. Allow students to connect with peers using
social media, video conferencing and mobile technologies.
- Let us collaborate. Let students gather in groups to solve
problems, share stories and, yes, play.
- Let us create. Allow them to use whatever materials they
like — from paper to green screens and virtual worlds — to create and find
- Let us have experiences. Be it photography, poetry, a virtual book
club or gaming, offer entryways for students to discover their passions. Look
beyond the school and enlist people in your community and even further afield to
find expertise and resources.
- Let us teach. Don't just flip your classroom, turn it on
its head. Get out the video camera and let your students share what they've
learned with their peers, their parents and even their teachers.
- Let us have access. Access is not just about letting students use
school devices. Grant students access to tools, internet and resources, such as
ebooks and databases, and let them use their personal devices.
- Let us create our space. Create a student-friendly environment — even
if it's messy and loud — and extend your classroom or library into the halls
and outside the building.
- Let us have choices. Some students like to sit on the floor, and
others might prefer a rocking chair. Give students free rein to choose their
environment, study style and passion.
- Let us make a difference. Inspire them to do things outside of school
to help others.
- Let us have a voice.
Let them feel like they have a say
in their learning. "Whether it's listening to them, lifting them up, or letting
them create and collaborate, let them have a voice," Miller said.