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How does this happen on Youth Voices?

Written by Paul Allison
October 17, 2010

It starts with generative questions that build into inquiries or research projects, which students then develop into discussion posts.Then a group of students comments on these posts, and we facilitate the creation of niche groups, students who seem interested in similar inquiries.

In the ongoing process of regularly posting and commenting, teachers guide students to use images, links, and other digital tools, and to do research into their questions. In succeeding posts and comments, the students quote and link to the voices they find in blogs, poems, podcasts, videos, news items, and magazine and journal articles. In the middle of this upward spiral of increasingly complex discussion posts, comments from a growing group of peers, and a more diverse research sources are the comments Youth Voices teachers ask their students to write.

“Authentic conversation” on Youth Voices means that students are involved in inquiry, research, guided response, and collaboration with their peers from any school on Youth Voices. The direction of most of this work is horizontal, peer-to-peer, with important monitoring, cajoling, editing, modeling, and motivating coming from the all the teachers involved on the site, not just the one a student sees every day (or twice a week, depending on a teacher’s schedule) in class.