My tenth graders are, for the most part, pretty excited about Youth Voices. They enjoy writing posts based on their genuine inquiry questions, writing reviews of things they enjoy, and seeking comments from others about the things that occupy their minds. They come to me regularly with potential topics and ideas, and I encourage them to keep a running list of questions they would like to consider for more information.
I am including commenting as a part of their regular classwork and homework grades, and students are enjoying reading one another's posts, receiving feedback on their writing from non-teachers, and seeiing what teenagers they do not already know are up to.
One thing that is working extremely well in my classroom is the format of the Guides for the different posting options. My weaker students rely very heavily on them, while my stronger students are able to deviate from the structure a little bit to explore their own writing voice and style.
I am interested in using YV as part of an extended research paper, but have never actually taught a research paper, and certainly never through YV. I would love feedback and suggestions from anyone who has experience or ideas.
I'm also working to streamline my gradebook (using PowerSchool) to fairly assess my students' writing. With them writing more than I can ever physically grade, I am having to strike a balance between quantity of writing and quality, and find a way to measure it with numbers and percentages. This semester is certainly a trial run for that, and I hope to hammer out a system that works for my classroom that can be used with next year's course.
I have received a lot of positive feedback from my administration, and their support has been extremely helpful. Having semi-regular computer and internet access has been critical to making this work in my classroom.