Sometimes during the teaching day, you may walk by  Miriam Przybyla-Baum’s French classroom and hear raucous laughter. Though it is not unusual to hear students enjoying time in a Stoneleigh-Burnham classroom, the reason today has to do with a particular approach to helping all of our students discover their unique voice.  The class is utilizing the app Equity Maps to make sure every voice in the classroom is heard.

Says Przybyla-Baum “Equity Maps provides a simple way of tracking how the different students are participating in classroom discussions.  Each student in the class is represented in the app and when one student starts talking I press their icon. Then the student tosses the “bâton” to the next student in the class and I press the icon representing that student. The students get really excited when they know we are going to use the app again.” 

Cat Wagner, the Stoneleigh Burnham dance instructor agrees. “Talking and writing about dance can sometimes be difficult, and the app helps students develop their own awareness of the ways they contribute to class discussions.” 

The Equity Maps app, for use on iPad, is designed to help educators and facilitators chart and record the interaction of students.  It also graphically illustrates the different levels of participation and the types of contributions made by each student.  

While Miriam discussed her use of the app during a recent faculty meeting, several faculty peers brought up concerns about how quiet students may perceive the use of the app.   

Says Przybyla-Baum, “What is really great is that it lets the students take control of making sure that every voice in the classroom has a chance to be heard. Instead of quiet students feeling pressure to participate it really allows the entire class to see how they are participating with one another. Students pull back or participate as appropriate often inviting other students in, drawing them in.”    

Mapping conversations is not a new thing at Stoneleigh-Burnham, says Assistant Head of School Shawn Durrett.  “We used to map classroom conversations for each others’ classes on paper and then tape them on the wall to analyze them.”   

Information on the Equity Maps website speaks directly to what their company believes to be the importance of using their tool. They believe that what gets measured and seen can be improved, that learning lasts in classrooms where students feel their voices are heard, and that reflecting on how we participate supports better listening, efficacy, empathy, and collaboration.

Given the School’s commitment to every student’s voice being heard, being able to reflect upon how each student is participating can be an important part of achieving the Stoneleigh-Burnham mission.  It is even better if the students enjoy a bit of laughter along the way.