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Okay, I just returned from the NCTE conference and have to share a book that I got which I think is absolutely fabulous. BUT, here's the best thing. . . You can visit this guy's website and get most of the information that way. The website is and the book is called "Speaking Volumes". I have been using a lot of the strategies in my classroom around the topics of race and justice in reference to "To Kill A Mockinbird". The really, really great thing about the strategies he gives is that there are a wide variety. Verbal, silent, and written discussions are all included. So, when things get too heavy, you can always break into a silent discussion.

As for making sure kids talk to each other in a manner that helps in sensitive situations like talking about race, I just think a good solid, simple, heart-felt speech from the teacher and facilitator (this means you!) explaining that all opinions are welcome is important. I also like to use the analogy that if we don't talk about the 'elephant in the room' nobody will ever get rid of it! So, I encourage kids to be thoughtful, honest and to have some tolerance . . . a word I taught them on the first day. I wonder if has anything to offer on this subject?


When it comes to easy lessons on incorporating student voice, it's hard to do better than teaching tolerance.

They have pre-made unit plans on just about every social issue as well as some other great ideas.

Rob H.

Here's some good websites to check,
Youth on Board,
and The Freechild Project,

~from SC

John Loflin


indeed strategies for discussing race, class, culture, gender, age, and differences/diversity in general are important for schools in a democracy. Why? because diversity needs democracy.

democracy answers the question: how do differnt people/groups share the same space? what is fair for everyone? or the more fundamental question: what is justice?

while attending the 14th annual international democratic education conference in sydney this summer the issue WAS NOT STUDENT VOICE, BUT STUDENT ACTION. actions resulting from student discussions
that leads to systemic change in classroom, school, and govt. social-economic policy initiatives. the australians have long moved past student voice and on to change

if students know that the discussions will lead to change and policy initiatives that affect them where they are now (school and neighborhood) they will take the discussions more seriously.

for example when students know that the discussions will lead to such possibilities as: classroom/school behaviorial rules based on the shared decisions of the group being implemented; new teaching/learning strategies based on gender and/or cultural differences being implemented; authentic assessments based on individual learning styles being implemented; more after school and summer employment opportunity programs being implemented; studying, creating solutions, thus policy initiativeis taken to the Indpls city council and state govt. (with self-evaluations of these efforts) to attack the causes of neighborhood poverty--the same poverty that has a negative effect on the school's ability to educate all students...

these are the suggestions in the australian "ruMad?" & "Connect" curriculum mentioned below.

it's talking followed by actions that can convince students the roundtable discussions will be useful...the opportunity for social-economic change will promote the civility and regard needed in such discussions. it is these issues of listening, respect, and considering another student's point of view that concerns this colleague. the seriousness/possibilities of real-world outcomes resulting from these discussion will be of most help.

go to:

see p. 49 ruMad?: Creating Studetn Change Makers
see p. 55 Connect: Student Action, Participation , and Community


Adam Fletcher

There is a website that is designed specifically to provide student voice tools, research, examples, and activities for teachers to use in their classrooms.

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