05/09/2007
My Voice My Community
Student voice yields reading gains

"We've done everything ourselves"

Elizabeth Soslau, at Grover Washington Jr. Middle School, “gets” the idea of student voice. Her 8th grade students were the drivers for their project on child abuse.

She writes, “Throughout the project I pitched myself as their administrative secretary. I typed, copied, faxed and secured permission. But whenever an email was necessary, the students wrote it with me. In Rakeem’s words: ‘We have done everything ourselves, and on top of that we worked extra hard.’”

Ms. Soslau used the project as a teaching strategy to improve her students’ reading levels. It was successful way beyond her imagining. The typical reading inventory growth for a student is 60-70 points in a year. Her students increased their scores an average of 100 points each. And beyond their academic achievement, the students learned to support and encourage one another in class discussions, when initially they resisted any level of participation at all.