Student Created Vision Statements

Your school probably has a vision statement, but do your students have their own? (Cringing that I just wrote a question hook, but oh well.) 

I created this lesson for my seniors in the fall of 2021. It worked very well, so I want to offer it to any teacher who can use it. Everything you need to pull off this lesson should be in this blog post. 

This lesson was inspired by a parent who wrote a Facebook post with a one-pager she created for her daughter. The post was widely shared and went around the world. The little girl, Ellie, was born with Down Syndrome and has special needs in school. The parent created a page about her daughter's strengths and needs to share with her teachers. You can find her post about that here. At the top of the page was a vision statement about how the parents envisioned their daughter living her life. It was beautiful, heartfelt, realistic, and optimistic. 

My first thought was that I wanted to have my students make their own one-pager about themselves. (If you have the time, go for it.) Then, I decided to scale back and focus just on the vision statement part. 

Lesson Slides: This is the lesson that resulted and you can have a copy of these slides here. Click "use template."

When you make your copy of the lesson slides, you'll find a link to the student slide template at the end, but you can also make a copy of the student slides here. You'll need a copy of those student slides for each period you teach. The student slides give students a place to put their personal vision and add an image to go with it. 

When you share the student slides with your classes, I suggest either sharing through Google Classroom, or pasting in the email addresses of your students in that period. I do not recommend the "anyone can edit" option for reasons described below.

I created an example of what this assignment could look like in Google Classroom. Remember you'll need a different slide deck for each period if you are using this with multiple periods of students. NOTE: the setting here is "students can edit file" and not make a copy for each student. This way you'll have all the vision statements for each period in one slide deck. 

Technical challenges

There are sometimes issues when you give edit access to the whole class. The biggest problem is when a student adds a background image and accidentally clicks the button that says "add to theme." Then their background image becomes everyones background image. Control-Z can usually fix this quickly. You can also click "background" and then "reset to theme," but that means other students will need to re-add their images. 

Sometimes a student chooses to do something malicious to another student's slide. I like to find out early if I have a student like that in class, so we can have some proactive conversations about what it means to be part of a learning community and respecting the work of others. Vision statement slides are a low stakes way to find out about student's technical skills and the revision history (File/Version history) can help you restore any short term damage. 

Know Your Students Better

Most importantly, the vision statement slides helped me get to know my students, their interests and their life goals. I found myself going back to those slides when students asked for letters of recommendation, when I wanted to help them choose an engaging book to read, and when I was debating which modules to teach. 

I've blurred out all of the content because my student's vision statements belong to them, but even through the blur, I think you can tell that they each put their own spin on this, chose their own words and images, and were generally very willing to tell me who they are and who they want to be. 

I hope the steps and slides for creating and sharing vision statements will be valuable to you and your students. If you use this successfully (or even unsuccessfully) please let me know in the comments or on Twitter. I'm @JenRoberts1