Wallwisher: Making Student Voices Heard

It's been over a week since the devastating earthquake in Haiti.  A few days after the quake, my friend Karen McMillan sent me an invite to her Diigo group, Kids4Haiti.  While I, unfortunately, have not been good enough to add any sites to the list, Karen has been working hard to update the list with sites that show photos and list ways to help out along with a variety of other topics.

We had an early dismissal day today since we had professional development in the afternoon. On these days, I find out at 8am who is on my schedule for the day. Not enough time to pull together a lesson. So I took some inspiration from my other friend, Ann Leaness and her Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Wallwisher and mixed it with the resources from Karen's group.

First, I saw that I had a 5th grade class on my schedule, so I went to their page on our Student Work Wiki and added an assignment. I gave them a link to the Diigo group so they could look through the links and resources.  Then, I provided a link to a Wallwisher I had created for them to post their thoughts and reflections on.

Before starting, we briefly discussed what they knew about the earthquake (surprisingly little) to give them some background.  One of my students said, "I don't care about them Africans!" This student is prone to outbursts to get attention, so I ignored the comment and kept going.  After 10 minutes of scrolling through pictures of the damage, asking me questions about the pictures and watching newscasts, she left a caring and thoughtful comment on the Wall.  Many other students did as well.  I wasn't sure exactly how they would react or what they would say. I didn't give them any rules or guidelines.

Here are their reflections:
(you can also view them here)

The students also loved reading what each other had to say, commenting on their classmates' responses. Everyone in the class had their voice heard, which rarely happens in such a short period of time. It also gave me a chance to get to know my students better and it gave them a real audience for their reflections.

If you haven't tried Wallwisher, I highly suggest giving it a try.  This is the second class I have used it with, and both have proved to be meaningful experiences. What's even better, wall posts can be moderated. My previous Wallwisher required a lot of moderation, but the posts on this one were so honest and heartfelt, not one needed to be censored.


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