Leveraging EdTech: brilliant tools for student voice

Cecilia Astolfi provides three very useful tips for any teachers wishing to promote student voice in the classroom

Leveraging EdTech: brilliant tools for student voice

Feedback is a crucial part of teaching and learning – and it goes both ways. As a teacher, I give plenty of specific feedback to my students, to help them improve and make progress; I strive to create good relationships with all the young people I am responsible for, in order to support their academic and personal growth. For the same reasons, I seek feedback from them, to evaluate and improve my own practice. There are three tools I recommend in order to enhance the ability of students to express their views in a constructive and valuable manner.

1.  Shared documents. It is as easy as it sounds: create a new file, share it with students (via email, or the relevant learning platform your school uses). This works best when eliciting itemised responses, such as “which activity would you like more of?”, or longer responses “summarise the key points from the guest speaker”. The main advantage of using this tool is that responses can be tracked in real time – hence comments can be added and answered immediately. Students can also be asked to use different colours to differentiate their responses to track participation, and thus prompt the less vocal individuals. While a simple GoogleDoc is sufficient, different platforms can be used depending on their purpose, to allow for diagrams, sketches, even voice notes.

2.  Google Forms. This tool has been part of my normal way of working for several years. At the beginning of the term, I give all students a “getting to know each other” survey; after each test, a Reflection; at the end of the academic year, a survey to Feedback the teacher. Setting up the form to collect email addresses means I can then export results in the tracking spreadsheet and identify students’ needs and preferences. As part of the initial survey, I asked them “What do you want Mx Astolfi to know about you?” – something as simple as that revealed insightful information about my new students which I can then use to build better learning environments. Since the students are given the forms as part of lessons or as homework, they become used to verbalise their thoughts – which fosters better communication overall. [snipped below from initial student survey]

Snippet Google Form

3.  Mentimeter Word Cloud. The perfect way to get quick feedback and empower the students to “see” their voices. The online tool is free to use with basic functionality, but I decided to invest the approximately £70 for the teacher package (mainly to have more slides, which I use for formative assessment). Great questions to ask could be “Name three characteristics of an excellent teacher”, “Write three words to describe us as a class”, “What three words describe Mx Astolfi?”. If you are concerned that students’ comments may be inappropriate, you can preview the results before sharing them. I do recommend sharing them: to foster trust and modelling the seeking and acceptance of honest feedback.  [Snipped below from Voluntary Service Activities initial brainstorming session]

You can learn more about EdTech here: https://global-edtech.com/edtech-definitions-products-and-trends/

Brainstorming session