The words “listen” and “voice” carry the obvious connotations that mouths and ears must be involved in some way. However, your students—especially those for whom asserting themselves vocally may be a challenge—may find it easier, and more effective, to communicate in mediums other than the spoken word. The following two examples showcase innovative projects with students that honor their voices as they speak through visual mediums. Explore these examples and consider how you might try something similar in your own classroom.
At a public high school in Oakland, art teacher Thi Bui encourages students to create comics that communicate the story of their immigration to the United States.
Students receive cameras and an assignment to take photographs that answer three questions:
1) What is the purpose of school?
2) What helps you succeed in school?
3) What gets in the way of your school success?
Personally, I love comics, but my own lack of drawing talent might prevent me from asking students to use pens and markers to tell a story. The Photovoice method used in the second example feels more accessible to me. If you’re interested, read the article “Student Voice and Critical Reflection Helping Students at Risk” to learn about Photovoice in action with middle schoolers.
Have you tried something similar in your classroom? What other ideas or examples have you come across? Participate in the discussion below.