The Power of Student Voice

One of my goals in our Unleashing Digital Storytelling elective course is to help elevate student voice through authentic media creation.  Taking matters into her own hands, Kaylie created this video, highlighting a journaling/discussion activity we do in class and the poignant voices of some of her classmates.  Sadly, what teenagers and other students have to say, experience, and feel plays little part in the discussion of school and curriculum reform.   Much of the most powerful and effective writing that students have produced in my classes is related to their fears, dreams, worries, and interests.   If you enjoy this project, please comment, and I’ll be sure to share your responses with her!

*I did not create the idea of topic journals, as it states in the introduction.  During the Louisville Writing Project summer institute last July–part of the National Writing Project–I learned about the idea from a book by educator Penny Kittle.*


  1. Danny,
    Thanks for stopping by. One little step I’m making in connecting the personal writing to more “academic” writing is challenging students to use transition words and phrases, even when they free-write about topics close to them.

  2. Hi David,
    Too many educators don’t consider how tumultuous their students’ lives are. The question is, how can educators tap into the emotional/personal expression, then springboard to higher-level thinking and analytical work?

  3. i just listened to the whole thing and must say that the whole project is empowering and collaborative in so many ways. Students have authentic voices and if given opportunities to voice what they feel, they really do not feel shy about speaking out…the whole world can learn from them.

  4. This video was thought-provoking. I teach freshman English at a college, and I’ve felt that students are all very good at writing about their feelings, but many of them have difficulty in writing more analytic papers.

    In the video, though, I see personal writing that seems to actually be about something outside the individual student’s feelings. They are aiming those emotions at real things and it is very effective. I was particularly impressed with the student who was writing about boredom. These topic journals may be a valuable solution in transitioning from the personal to the analytic. Thanks so much for posting this. You’ve given me something to ponder.

  5. I too learned about digital storytelling through the writing project- I went to summer institute in New Paltz, NY. WHat a powerful tool. I’m so glad you are sharing it with your students. Thank them for sharing their writing and feelings with us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s