Encouraging 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! (see video clip below)

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. 


A glimpse at an exercise in the classroom. Please click on <<PLAY>> button above to start the video.