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Sharing the “Why?”

by Aviva Dunsiger

juniormathYesterday, we recorded a radio show where students discussed their answers to different questions for Multiple Choice Mondays. Students from my class and my teaching partner’s class both joined in on this Internet radio show recording. While it was great to hear all of the students sharing their thinking aloud, I was particularly impressed with one student that even answered questions that he found difficult, and then talked himself through the process. At lunchtime, I went into my teaching partner’s class to speak to this student about his contributions, and it was his response that really got me thinking.

He started by thanking me for my kind words, and then he said, “Miss Dunsiger, I always do better when I can talk about what I’m thinking. I find it hard to write. If I can speak the ideas out loud though, I know exactly what to say, and then I can communicate a lot. I’m worried about EQAO because I can’t talk about my ideas – I have to write them down. This doesn’t work for me.” Wow! What profound insight from a Grade 6 student. He really understands his learning style and what he needs to succeed. I never expected that this conversation would lead to this revelation.

Now I’m starting to think that if the 21st century classroom is all about student choice and student voice, then how do we make sure we hear these voices? I know that I often let students choose how they want to share their learning, but these choices often come down to picking the tool that they want to use. I’m starting to wonder if I ask them enough about the reasons behind their use of these tools.


How do you get students to share why they need the tools that they do to be successful? How do you meet the diverse needs of your learners?


AvivaAviva Dunsiger taught Junior Kindergarten to Grade 2 for 11 years before moving to Grade 6 this year. She’s passionate about using technology in the classroom to support student learning, and she’s presented on this topic numerous times both online and offline.

She enjoys maintaining her blog, Living Avivaloca: My Many Musings on Life and Learning. Aviva’s reflective writing about her professional practice inspires communication between educators, administrators and parents.  

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