An Inquiry into Technology, Student Voice and Social Justice

I’ve written about this a few times, but our inquiry theme this year the Western Massachusetts Writing Project is digital literacies. A keynote address that I gave the other week at a WMWP event centered on valuing the emerging literacies of the digital age.

And yesterday, as a follow up to that keynote, I helped facilitate an inquiry session with about a dozen WMWP folks around the idea of valuing student voices. In particular, much of our discussion and exploration centered around the ways that podcasting and audio recording can open up doors for expression for students.

We began with a writing prompt, on which we wrote about one of those “aha! moments” around technology — that time when something happened that you suddenly realized some possibilities. We then used Audacity to share out some of our moments. We didn’t save the audio file, however, since it was an experiment in the session and I was working on the school’s computer. But here is a podcast version of what I wrote about, centering on a student with learning disabilities who discovered some tools that helped re-envision himself as a writer.

We then spent some time on the National Writing Project’s Digital Is website, considering the rationale and reasons why technology can have an impact on learning, and empowering students. In particularly, we read and watched the videos related to this fantastic resource by some friends in California: The Change Writers. What we really loved is how the resource shows a project that merges the power of digital media and production with writing and research, in a meaningful way. That resource also connected last year’s of WMWP around social justice with this year’s digital literacy theme.

Check out one of the videos from the resource that really shows the value of podcasting and Voicethread for student voice and motivation and audience:

Finally, we used Voicethread, too, and we began with a short writing prompt, asking the folks what kind of change they would bring to the world. I’ve kept the thread open, if you want add your ideas, too. Please, do.

And for a final reflection, we used Wallwisher to add a final thought to the inquiry session. I was happy to be part of this group, diving into the possibilities of digital literacies and tools, and keeping our focus on student learning as writers and as producers of content.

Peace (in the inquiry),


  1. First of all, I am enjoying getting to know your site. My name is Kim; I am a student teacher, working on my single subject credential in English and I am excited to learn all that I can about teaching and technology. You put a great deal of thought into your blog postings and the fact that you update as often as you do is pretty amazing. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with not only students and teachers, but the rest of the world.
    This particular blog is spot on regarding everything that I have been learning, not only in my teacher instruction courses, but in the NCTE briefs that I have been studying also. I am thankful to see specific examples as to how a teacher can apply the theory and/or research one reads/studies in the classroom regarding the integration of the student literacies that they bring to the classroom. Since these literacies are often technology based and social in context, they should be able to fit right into the curriculum of a classroom which is built on the idea that students should have a voice and that this “voice” can be both valued and nurtured (and in my book, reading and writing are terrific vehicles to get students on the right path to finding their way).

    • Thank you for visiting and for taking the time to write such a great response. I am glad that you find what I am doing and sharing useful, and I hope you get some sparks of ideas for your own teaching, and then take the time to share out, too. We all learn from each other, but it takes teachers willing to share out ideas and reflections, and try new things.

  2. Is it possible for additions to disappear from a voicethread? I had contributed my voice to the “If I could change the world. . . ” Voicethread that you left open on your October 26th blog and now it is missing. I was only checking because I have to turn in a reflection paper regarding my observations and interactions with your website and when I was confirming the date of the blog and the thread and comment, I noticed that my voice was no longer there–is this normal? I am new to this mode of technology. Thank you, Kim

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *