We all know that student voice is a great way to keep our students engaged. In this episode, we highlight how 6th grade teacher John Arthur takes student voice to a whole new level by encouraging his students to explore the curriculum through content creation.
John Arthur teaches 6th grade at a Title I school in Salt Lake City, UT. John was recently recognized as the 2021 Utah Teacher of the Year, and as a Top 4 Finalist for National Teacher of the Year – and it’s easy to see why.
John’s approach to student voice is to give his students the chance to create, edit, and publish original content.
This approach allows his students to explore concepts and share their ideas and experiences with others. It also gives them the chance to express themselves academically and creatively. They also get to learn how to engage in public discourse in a respectful way.
As a part of building student voice, he allows them to use a variety of mediums, including video, podcasts, writing, etc. He finds that inviting his students to create content gives them something that they’re proud to create in the classroom.
John is also a master at starting and building communities using modern technology. He has connected his students to amazing people ranging from college students in Wisconsin to the Utah Film Center – and they love being a part of John’s classroom.
John and I also discuss John’s passion for ensuring that students of every background and ethnicity have an equal opportunity to succeed in the classroom and beyond.
So be sure to settle in and prepare to have your mind opened by this creative, inspiring teacher!
Here’s a glance at this episode…
[1:45] – John discusses meeting Joe & Jill Biden in Washington D.C., along with other teachers of the year.
[4:23] – What challenges are teachers currently facing given the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic? What can teachers do to cope?
[12:20] – A day in the life of John’s 6th grade classroom. Learn how he uses student voice to build engagement. By inviting his students to produce work that they’re proud of, he motivates them to engage with the curriculum more deeply. They produce anything from newsletters and articles to documentary films and music videos.
[19:02] – Taking Think, Pair, Share to a global level! Check out how John utilizes the power of modern technology to start conversations and engage in projects that extend far beyond the walls of his classroom. Talk about a silver lining from the pandemic!
[24:40] – John breaks down the creative process and how he guides his students through it.
[28:03] – There are so many people and organizations in our communities. So many of them would love to be a part of our classrooms. So, reaching out and inviting them into our classrooms can lead to deeply meaningful experiences for everyone.
[33:05] – Learn how putting language arts instruction into context can lead to more meaningful learning and application of language arts skills.
[35:25] – How does John teach his students how to handle negative comments and trolling on the internet? Learning how to handle conflict in appropriate, unifying ways is a powerful lesson that we could all use. Don’t miss the story John tells!
[44:26] – How can stereotypes and a lack of representation lead to an erosion of student voice? What role can teachers play to help students of every background and ethnicity feel comfortable and confident in their ethnic and cultural identities?
[58:18] – As teachers, it’s easy to feel like we’re being crushed. But teachers can find heart in building the classrooms that can be the world in which we want to live. John’s experience is that engaging in that cause can bring energy, purpose, and motivation to a classroom and can help reinvigorate education.