Mr. Rocco was having the hardest time getting his 8th-grade scholars at William Longstreth School to bring back their neighborhood interviews.  The interview is a key activity in our My Voice framework that encourages students to talk to a trusted family or community member about both the positive and challenging aspects of their communities.   

Mr. Rocco was planning to use the information garnered from the interviews to build a list of social issues for the students to discuss.  The problem was the students weren’t bringing them back to school.  They said they were at home “on the table,” or “almost finished,” but they were not in the place they needed to be…….at school!  

So, Mr. Rocco did what teachers do every day: he adapted.  Before his students came in for the day, he wrote some of the questions from the interview on pieces of chart paper and hung them around the room.  When the students arrived, they had a conversation about the word “community” and documented all the different communities they belonged to.   

Then he gave the students post-it notes and sent them around the room to answer the questions. The students wrote what they remembered from the interviews they conducted and even brought up issues they had discussed with their families around the dinner table.  Mr. Rocco said, “Students were commenting on others, which helped them think about their own issues and how to write them to promote conversation.” 

One student wrote, “My one wish for my community is for everyone to stop the violence and be at peace with one another.”     

Because of his adaptation and persistence, Mr. Rocco was able to have a productive and engaging conversation with his scholars.  Now, they have a huge list of social issues to discuss and the sky’s the limit on where their project will take them.