Empowering Student Voice in the Classroom

At our planning meeting with teachers, they said, 

“WE WOULD LIKE TO CREATE A UNIT THAT REFLECTS THE STUDENTS WHOSE FAMILIES HAVE IMMIGRATED, SOME OF WHOM ARE REFUGEES.  THESE STUDENTS DON’T SEE THEMSELVES IN THE CURRICULUM.” 

We created a unit on “Change” with the inquiry, “How has change impacted our values? What does this mean for the future?

Using educational drama, students learn through first person experiences, (created to be emotionally safe for students.)  The authenticity in their final sharing session is heart lifting!

While examining the plight of modern refugees by living inside a story, students reflect on their own journeys and those of “change” in their families. This inquiry-based learning unit is a model for deepening understanding and social/emotional learning with themes of equity, inclusion and well-being.  

Students experience learning in "first person" as they build empathy, compassion and a growth mindset.  Personal well-being is nurtured through immersion in the arts.  Storytelling, drama, dance and visual arts are central to this cross-curricular unit. As well, Language Arts, Current Affairs and Social Studies expectations are integrated in the work.

Stages of the Unit:

The stages of the unit follow the outline of a story: 

  1. Minds-On Activities

  2. Life in the Old Country

  3. The Decision to Leave

  4. Leaving

  5. The Journey

  6. Settling into Canada

Listen as the students share their learning making connections to their lives and the lives of their families, many of whom are refugees.

  

Stages of the “Change” Unit

 The stages of the unit follow the outline of a story: 

  1. Minds-On Activities

  2. One Teapot Game            

  3. Perspective Training                       

  4. Be Do Have

  5. Life in the Old Country

  6. The Decision to Leave

  7. Teacher in Role

  8.  Corridor of Voices

  9. Leaving 

  10. The Journey

  11. Settling into Canada (Working with the Parents’ Stories)

  12. Challenges in a New Country

  13. Preparing for a Sharing Assembly 

  14. Debrief: Making Connections

 

IN REFLECTION, AT THE END OF OUR PROJECT, A CHILD SAID,

“When I was doing my homework, I asked my Dad about why did I leave the country. And then he told me that the people had civil war and there was a lot happening and my Dad wanted to find me a better country to give me better education…”