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My Voice Matters: Building Authentic Engagement into Middle School Advisory

Session 6
Pam Prell, Sarah Duenas — Need in Deed, SLA Middle School, Philadelphia

Conversation facilitators will share from their own Philadelphia-based experience using Need in Deed’s My Voice framework for service-learning as a powerful tool to help middle school students recognize that school is relevant to their lives and creates meaningful opportunities for educators to demonstrate ways of valuing students’ perspectives and experiences outside of school. Facilitators will have a wide range of examples to draw upon with an emphasis on the ways a student led service-learning project meets the goals of an advisory setting—creating a space for students to build community and feel heard and known.

Our conversation will begin with a brief overview of the My Voice framework (adaptable to a wide range of settings) with a hands-on modeling of an activity (analyzing photographs as texts) that educators can use to generate conversations with students about social issues that students care about. We’ll explore ways to use this (and other related activities) as a catalyst for building relationships with students as well as creating authentic learning opportunities for students to explore the complexity of social issues—learning about root causes as well as the effect—and designing a project to address an authentic need in the community. We will build in time for participants to brainstorm together ways of adapting the My Voice framework (or elements of the framework) to address challenges they may have in their own settings. Copies of sample activities and photos for conversational prompts will be made available on a Padlet site for future reference.

Conversational Practice

The conversation will include an interactive activity using a Gallery Walk that encourages conversation about social issues in the community. Think-Pair-Share protocol will be used to reflect on ways of adapting the activity (and the My Voice framework more broadly) for a range of settings. Recognizing that younger students may benefit from norm setting and conversational strategies to guide respectful discourse, facilitators will provide sample sentence stems as a takeaway for use in classrooms. Finally, we’ll use a Padlet to share photos and sample prompts and invite participants to add photos or conversational prompts that would inspire students to reflection and action.

Conversation Links

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