What could be more exciting and motivating to a student to see his or her opinions posted online where other students can see them and respond? Youth Voices is a site for conversations that invites “youth of all ages to voice their thoughts about their passions, to explain things they understand well, to wonder about things they have just begun to understand, and to share discussion posts with other young people using as many different genres and media as they can imagine!”
Youth Voices is a school-based social network, started by a group of National Writing Project teachers, who merged several earlier blogging projects. The goal is to connect students around the country through writing about their passions and reading and commenting on the work of others. This project has provided a vehicle for the marriage of curriculum and digital literacies.
One of the best things about Youth Voices is that membership is free, and the authors invite you to join them. They welcome any teacher interested in having students publish online and participate in the give and take of a safe social network.
Here is what the authors of this site have to say about Youth Voices: “We are much more than a website or a social network. We are also a welcoming community of teachers who have been planning curriculum together for years. Many of us are active members in our local National Writing Project sites, and Youth Voices is managed by teachers in the New York City Writing Project. In addition, many of us count ourselves as members of the World Bridges community, and we meet regularly using Google+ Hangouts and Livestream on a weekly webcast/podcast, Teachers Teaching Teachers, which has been broadcast live every Wednesday evening over the EdTechTalk channel of the WorldBridges network since 2006.”
Involving students in “authentic conversations” is one of the passions that sparked the idea behind Youth Voices. Teachers working with the project have learned that nurturing and guiding students to write and create well-crafted products is important, but it is just important to allow time for students to read other students’ posts and to write comments to them. Developing global conversations around posts provides students an opportunity to see what is happening around the world and in the homes and lives of others.
The site offers several “channels” where students can post their reflections. Current topics include:
- My Senses were a Window to Occupy Wall Street
- Maybe we Should Listen to our Parents
- The Claustrophobia of Advertisements
- 7 Bizarre Signs of Economic Failure
- What’s the Future of my Generation?
- Gum Helps you Concentrate
Students can choose from various channels to post their work:
- Art, Music, and Photography
- Gaming and New Media
- Literature and Inquiry
- Local Knowledge/ Global Attitude
And…if you are looking for something specific, authors use tags to make their work easily searchable. Youth Voices is a safe, academic social network for students to share their thoughts with the world. Maybe it is the right platform for your students…