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Correct Vocal Placement

I am interested to hear the phrases and terminology that some of you use to teach correct vocal placement in the high school choir. I've recently been told that telling students to "raise the soft palatte" will actually make them do the opposite and sing with a more closed sound. True?  I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. I have trouble keeping my Soprano I's from flatting in the upper register. Is this related to my confusion on placement, or possibly something else?
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