Every Resource I’ve Made for Schools

1+soundout+logo1Are you a student, a K-12 educator, education administrator, school advocate, concerned parent, a nonprofit partner, or somebody else in the community who is concerned about schools? Following is a list of resources I’ve created focused on schools. Let me know what you think in the comments section below!

 

My Resources On Student Voice

 

My Resources on Meaningful Student Involvement

 

My Resources on Student Engagement

 

My Resources on Education

 

My Resources on Democracy in Education

Guide to Students on School Boards by Adam Fletcher

The SoundOut Guide to Students on School Boards provides information, research, tips, and more about how to get students on boards of education. Written for SoundOut by a student activist and national advocate. Download your FREE copy of the Guide here!

34 Ways to Meaningfully Involve Students

Testing, curriculum, teaching styles, school evaluations… As the banner of student voice is unfurled around the world, we see more young people standing up in unprecedented numbers than ever before. They’re demanding what is rightfully theirs: Meaningful learning, deep school-community connections, and lifelong success on their terms. We’re just see a movement emerge like never before, and must keep pushing for it to grow.

Voice or Involvement?

In the context of schools, student voice is any expression of any student, anywhere, about anything related to education. For a long time, people got that wrong by defining it only as things adults wanted to hear from young people. This still happens, over and over.

Students are routinely wrangled into adult-driven, adult-centered education activities and were only asked about things that adults are concerned with. We heard student opinions about topics like teacher accountability, student leadership, student activities, and student services in the name of student voice for a long time.

However, a lot of my writing, research, and training has focused on listening to student voice that didn’t fit that description. It doesn’t fit because it’s sustained, authentic, learning-connected, and much more. By this definition alone, it is not student voice.

Instead, it is Meaningful Student Involvement. I have found the most vibrant action is happening outside that old spectrum of student voice. Re-examining student voice, expanding it, and showing how we’re seeing breadth and depth happening specifically from student/adult partnerships, Meaningful Student Involvement is a wide-open avenue for school transformation that benefits all students and thoroughly moves learning, teaching, and leadership.

All this shows how students need new roles throughout the education system. Instead of being passive recipients of adult-driven education systems, Meaningful Student Involvement needs to be infused throughout our schools. This can happen in a lot of ways, and here are a few.

34 Ways to Meaningfully Involve Students

  1. Connect student voice with learning. Make sure that all student voice activities have genuine objectives that are tied to classroom learning. Guide activities as experiential learning, and ensure students learn about what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and what they learn from it.
  2. Go to where students are, and stop insisting they come to where you’re at. This means engaging students as partners in hallways, courtyards, through social media, and other places students are already talking about changing schools.
  3. Teach students about education in the broadest ways, including culture, geography, economics, history, and more.
  4. Help students understand different ways of seeing education issues.
  5. Train adults in schools about the difference between Students as Recipients and Students as Partners, and why that’s an important distinction.
  6. Help students understand democracy and education, including what they is, how they are interdependent on each other, who is involved, where they fail and when they succeed.
  7. Develop opportunities for students to share their unfettered concerns about their education with adults.
  8. Create formal positions for students to occupy throughout their schools and the entirety of the education system.
  9. Create classes with students as full partners in identifying, planning, facilitating, evaluating, and critiquing throughout.
  10. Co-design realistic, practical school engagement plans with every student in your school.
  11. Assign all students a student mutual mentor to introduce them to the culture and traditions of your school.
  12. Help students plan, advocate, and enact yearlong program calendars for schools. 
  13. Engage students in designing and redesigning classes that serve them and their peers.
  14. Encourage nontraditional student leaders to co-facilitate regular programs with adults.
  15. Allow students to become active, full partners in school budgeting.
  16. Give students positions to become regular classroom assistants and facilitators. 
  17. Partner together students to form facilitation teams that lead classes.
  18. Acknowledge students teaching younger students in lower age groups with credit and other acknowledgment.
  19. Co-create professional development with students for adults about issues that matter to them.
  20. Assign students to create meaningful classroom evaluations of themselves.
  21. Partner with students to create evaluations of classes, curriculum, facilitation styles, school climate, and educational leadership.
  22. Train students how to evaluate educators. 
  23. Create opportunities for students to lead school committees, meetings, and more.
  24. Create positions for students to participate in district boards, school committees, and other education system-wide activities.
  25. Give students on district boards full-voting positions and equal numbers of positions with adults.
  26. Create enough positions for students to be equally represented in every school committee and meeting.
  27. Facilitate all education activities in ways that are engaging for all participants, including students.
  28. Help students create and enforce policies throughout the school.
  29. Partner with students in school personnel decisions.
  30. Work with students to organize public campaigns for school improvement.
  31. Create opportunities for students to join all existing school committees as equal members.
  32. Present school data and information so students understand why and how education can and should change.
  33. Position students to educate adults throughout the school community, including parents, leaders, policymakers and others, about challenges that matter to them. 
  34. Encourage students with formal and informal opportunities to present their concerns.

Research-Driven Action


The most effective practices are those that move beyond student voice and become Meaningful Student Involvement. No longer satisfied with tokenizing students, the roles of students are transforming roles throughout education. Schools are engaging students as partners in school change, implementing what I’ve coined as Meaningful Student Involvement over the last decade. In this capacity, students are becoming researchers, teachers, evaluators, researchers, decision-makers, and advocates throughout the education system.

The very best thing about all this? Its all backed up by research and practice from across the United States and around the world! For more than a decade I’ve been finding examples, collecting tools, and sharing best practices and findings from researchers, teachers, and students. I share it all free here on my blog and on the SoundOut website, free.

Check those out, and see my website for info about me!

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum by Adam Fletcher

SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum promo flyer

Order your copy of the SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum: Teaching Students to Change Schools today from Amazon.com!

This publication is also available for customization for your organization. Contact me to learn more.

 

 

Is Meaningfulness Arbitrary?

Today, I’m thinking about the design of some new materials. The graphic above was intended to illustrate some of the lows and highs in student involvement activities. Its for any activity that seeks to involve students beyond simply listening to student voice.

The challenge of this visual is to present all these positions in a way that IS NOT linear or sequential. As it looks right now, this chart implies a step-by-step progression, as if activities start with manipulation and end with equitable student/adult partnerships. They don’t. All these positions are often co-occurring, happening at the same time in a flurry of opportunities that are dependent on each student, each setting, and each part of an activity. Sometimes an activity can occupy several slots on the Measure.

Similarly, activities that seem completely powerful and deep to adults can seem utterly tokenistic and belittling to students themselves, and vice versa. Activities can feel punishing or opportunistic to students in the same grade from similar socio-economic backgrounds with common academic achievement and identical resource access.

This brings me to some larger questions. Is meaningfulness arbitrary? Does it all depend on the people, the places, and the activities? Or is it only through the culture, the climate, and the feeling of what’s being done?

Share your thoughts – is the meaningfulness of student involvement completely arbitrary?

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Selling Students Short

We are selling students short. Many of the very organizations, programs, and agencies that are engaging student voice are oftentimes blindsiding their targets.

I say we are selling students short because student voice is often inauthentic. Students are incapacitated from participating fully in conversations about schools.

What Makes Student Voice Inauthentic

  • Little Adults: Pulled from their schools, in order to share student voice, students are expected to talk how adults talk, dress how adults dress, and act like adults act.
  • Taught their Opinions: Drilled in the importance of a specific issue that adults have determined they need to hear student voice focused on, adults teach students adults’ perspectives only. After that, they ask students to stand up for that issue in the ways adults agree with.
  • Little or No Room for Dissent. With or without being conscious of it, students whose voices are heard by adults eagerly comply with adults. Those who don’t comply aren’t given room to disagree, and are frequently railroaded out of student voice activities.
  • No Credit for Participation. Adult educators are often paid for their time to participate in extra-curricular activities. Students receive little or no credit for participating, whether in the form of money or class credit. Students who can’t afford to skip classes or attend at night are excluded from activities.

Working with many situations over the years, I have found these traits and a few others to be relatively consistent, and I believe that ultimately, it is selling students short.

As I share regularly in teacher workshops, professional development seminars, and keynote speeches, Student Voice is any expression of any learner in any place about education. It is NOT only things adults approve of, and is so much more than what generally passes for student voice today.

Students deserve more than opportunities to share student voice. That is why I researched the field and worked with students and adults nationally and internationally to develop my Frameworks for Meaningful Student Involvement. When students become interested in changing schools, we should work our hardest to position them as active partners in transformation, and nothing less than that.

Learn how at www.soundout.org and contact me for more info.

NEW Student Voice Evaluation!

Download the 2013 Meaningful Student Involvement Deep Assessment from SoundOut. I am making it FREE on my website, so check out adamfletcher.net for the goods!

Meaningful Student Involvement Deep Assessment

Look for The Guide to Student Voice, available NOW exclusively on Amazon.com!


Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Student Voice Alert!

Dana Mitra of Penn State has been working to create a Student Voice, Participation and Partnership Special Interest Group at the American Educational Research Association annual meeting starting in 2014. It would be a regular, ongoing home where researchers and practitioners can share work on student voice, partnerships, and participation.

She need to collect 70 signatures on the petition to submit the paper work. PLEASE support the movement by signing your name to this survey, no matter if you’re an academic, a student, an advocate, a teacher, or a house mover. PLEASE do your part!

Thanks!

The Student Voice, Participation and Partnership SIG Survey is at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/98FRZRF
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

6 Ways To Share Student Voice Every Day

There are many ways that student voice can be actively engaged throughout schools. One of them is in classrooms. Much of my early work was centered on engaging students as partners in changing schools by positioning them in rich roles during their classroom learning experiences.

Now, though, I’m becoming more interested in how students themselves can make their voices heard throughout their typical learning experiences. Students should not always have to rely on adults to involve them meaningfully in schools; likewise, schools should prepare students to share their voices throughout their educational experiences.

6 Ways To Share Student Voice Every Day
Following are six ways students can share student voice on their own.

  1. Tell teachers about your needs in the classroom. This could mean talking about your learning style, asking clarifying questions about assignments, seeking help when needed, advocating for what you need to be successful, or standing up for your rights.
  2. Share your personal life with a safe adult. Find an adult in your school who can be an ally to you. This could be a teacher, counselor, or other person who you could share changes in family with, issues in school, or other personal issues. 
  3. Challenge schools to change. If you’re not satisfied with getting in deeper, work with your friends to challenge schools to change. Gather information about school, classes, clubs, and community issues, and identify issues agree need to change. Then work in your school to change your school.
  4. Stay on top of it, and sit out when you need to. Participate in class, hand in your homework, keep going to class, and pay attention to your grades. That is a form of communication. So is not talking in class, not doing your homework, skipping class, and letting your grades drop. 
  5. Share it with your parents. Make sure you, or when needed, your parents, respond to all messages from school. Give them opportunities to get involved and show them you care about your learning.
  6. Partner with your parents. Show your parents that you want to be involved and attend school meetings, events, and parent/teacher conferences.
There are many ways that students can make their voices heard on their own. This is just a short list. What are some ways you’d add? 

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

SoundOut Workshop Topics

For more than a decade, SoundOut has provided training workshops and professional development for K-12 schools, districts, state and provincial education agencies, and nonprofit organizations concerned with education. 

The following workshops are for teachers, building and district administrators, school support staff, community youth workers, AmeriCorps members, youth-serving nonprofit staff, parents, community members, and students in grades 2 through 12.  All sessions are customized to meet the needs of diverse learners, including differences in learning styles, physical abilities, grade levels and cultural backgrounds, and address specific applications and populations. They can be customized and specialized for a variety of settings and audiences, too!


Focusing on practical examples and current research, workshops explore examples, pragmatic considerations, critical reflections and essential tools on any given topic. Depending on the setting and needs of participants, workshops are interactive, action-focused co-learning spaces that build on the knowledge and experiences participants currently have.


Student Voice 101

This workshop is for participants who want student voice to be heard and want to make it stronger in their schools and communities. After identifying current avenues for student voice in their schools, participants examine broad activities throughout the school that could embrace student voice. Action planning and resource-sharing then enable students to be the change they want to see in the world.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Learn the basics of student voice
  • Examine activities engaging student voice
  • Identify barriers to student voice
  • National PTA Student-Driven Education Policy Advocacy Training, 2010. 
  • Plan practical student voice activities

Advanced Student Voice 

Experienced participants examine a variety of tools designed to foster their critical thinking and project development skills. Participants learn about student voice activities across the nation, and explore particular ways they can implement powerful new approaches to meaningful student involvement throughout education.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Learn critical thinking skills
  • Utilize research-based tools to examine current activities
  • Envision new approaches to engaging student voice
  • Plan practical student voice activities
Student Leadership in Communities 
Participants learn about what skills are essential in community leadership. Skills in communication, cultural awareness, community organizing, and action planning are explored in depth. 

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Examine the purpose, structure and/or outcomes of community either locally, regionally, nationally or internationally
  • Learn practical oral, written and/or verbal communication techniques
  • Explore cultural diversity and cross-cultural engagement
  • Review community organization methods and implementations
  • Create action plans focused on social change
Transforming Learning through Student/Adult Partnerships 
Participants in this workshop learn how to identify adult allies, create meaningful partnerships between youth and adults, and how to challenge discrimination against young people.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Learn about roles for adults as allies to young people
  • Examine student/adult partnerships in action
  • Learn and utilize new vocabulary that builds understanding
  • Articulate a vision for student/adult partnerships
  • Learn about discrimination against young people and analyze its presence in education

Student Equity

Miami middle school students attending a student/adult partnership training, 2011.
What do students think about equity, and how would they change schools to make learning more equitable? This workshop engages participants in learning about equity from other students’ perspectives, and then defining and examining their own. Students then envision “schools of equity” where they can learn, grow and evolve from their perspectives, and compare their findings to the changes currently underway in their schools.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Explore the role of equity throughout education, particularly in leadership
  • Examine equity in relationships between students, educators and other adults
  • Determine opportunities to foster equity throughout the learning environment
  • Analyze potential barriers to effectively equitable relationships

Powerful Learning Projects

Students can and should design powerful projects that clearly demonstrate their learning. Participants in this session identify issues they care about, create dynamic project plans and develop meaning measurements to determine what they learned and how successful they are in their projects.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Learn the basics of powerful learning projects
  • Examine their experiences, environment and ideas for social change
  • Identify how personal perspectives relate to larger social movements
  • Learn about the history of student activism for educational improvement and/or social change
  • Utilize a culturally-responsive action planning process to plan learning projects
  • Develop rubrics for self-usage in order to assess personal performance

Service Learning 101

In this session participants learn the basics of service learning, including essential elements and project planning. After briefly exploring examples from across the country, participants plan projects that meet academic requirements while meaningfully serving their local communities.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Learn the elements of service learning, including curricular connections, student voice, community partnerships, reflection and civic engagement
  • Determine practical applications for service learning in their setting
  • Create service learning plans
  • Develop assessment rubrics

Advanced Service Learning 

Using past experience participating in service learning activities, participants can develop new perspectives to successful projects. This session engages students using powerful tools and specific examples of effective, engaging and empowering service learning projects. Students then conduct critical analyses of their experiences and plan alternative or entirely new approaches to service learning. 

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Learn about social justice, student engagement and/or community connections
  • Reflect on personal experience in service learning activities
  • Examine research-based findings from across the field
  • Explore recent innovations from a variety of settings
  • Design pragmatic and innovation approaches for implementation

Fun, Games and School Change

This session uses cooperative learning activities to help students define group mission, building cohesiveness and plan action. Participants may also learn how to facilitate activities themselves through our unique “transparent training” method.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Participate in activities designed to increase team-building, communication, and problem-solving skills
  • Learn basic activities to implement in other settings
  • Reflect on past experiences in cooperative learning and school change

More than Listening: The Cycle of Student Engagement

In this session participants learn about the Cycle of Student Engagement, a research-driven tool that can serve as a practical guide for student voice. Participants can discover dynamic new applications of student voice in curriculum, classroom management, building leadership and community partnerships.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Identify the differences between current and potential student engagement activities
  • Utilize an action-research process in order to reflect on their experiences
  • Examine potential implementations and practical considerations
  • Apply the tool across broad stakeholder populations

Climbing the Ladder of Student Involvement

From the “How to Engage Disengaged Students” Training
Participants in this workshop learn about the variety of options for involving students throughout schools. Determine whether students. Using research-based tools including rubrics and examples, participants examine current practice in their school and identify new possibilities where students can become partners with adults throughout the education system.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Learn the basics of meaningful student involvement
  • Examine past experience utilizing a tool
  • Develop a rubric to illustrate a range of opportunities within current settings
  • Explore a variety of implementations reflecting personal assumptions

Student-Inclusive School Change 

Participants learn how students can become engaged as partners in school improvement activities. Research demonstrating student successes, examples showing learning efficacy, and anecdotes illustrating impacts are coupled with practical tools that can be utilized throughout schools.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Examine current roles for students in schools
  • Explore stories from around the world reflecting the broad possibilities for student-inclusiveness
  • Determine avenues for inclusiveness within current constraints
  • Envision possibilities beyond current expectations
  • Develop action plans for immediate, short-range and long-term implementation

Exploring Roles for Students in Formal School Improvement Activities

Participants in this workshop explore how to transform learning to meet student needs rather than insisting students meet school needs. Exploring research, practice and personal reflection focused on different ways students can become partners, this session focuses on roles for students from the local classroom to the state school board.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Envision school improvement from the perspectives of students, rather than from those of adults
  • Learn the basics of school improvement
  • Explore current school improvement activities and plans
  • Identify new roles for students within current activities and plans
  • Determine extended possibilities beyond the present

Words as Reflections of Reality 

Seattle Student Engagement Academy, 2012.
This workshop explores the growing body of research that has identified students as the foremost stakeholders in education reform. Participants explore students’ perceptions of school improvement activities from across the nation. Barriers to student voice, strategies for classroom and building-wide success, and general perceptions of schools will all be explored.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Explore students’ perspectives of school, including learning, climate, lifelong aspirations and cultural differences
  • Participate in activities designed to solicit and empower student voice
  • Learn techniques that engage students as equals
  • Identify barriers to student voice and methods to overcome them

Creating School/Community Partnerships

Participants in this workshop explore how partnerships between schools and community organizations can help students graduate and give agencies new volunteer energy that promotes civic engagement. Creating effective partnerships, engaging diverse students, recruiting partners, managing youth volunteers and catalyzing community members can be central topics throughout the session.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Identify the need for school/community partnerships within their experience
  • Explore the range of possibilities for partnerships, including implementation, activities and outcomes
  • Examine important considerations for partnerships
  • Create action plans that utilize partners in a variety of settings

Intergenerational Equity in Schools

Examining the balance of power in classrooms, throughout schools and across the education system, participants in this workshop identify new opportunities for creating student/adult partnerships in schools. Participants also learn about processes for creating intergenerational equity, as well as activities, tools and important considerations.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Learn the basics of intergenerational equity
  • Identify ways to overcome potential barriers
  • Explore avenues and opportunities for fostering intergenerational equity
  • Examine the relationship between intergenerational/social/gender and other forms of equity

Engaging Nontraditional Student Leaders 

SoundOut offers ground-breaking, unique content.
Participants examine the current role of nontraditional student leaders in schools and learn about new avenues for engagement. Using a skill-based focus, participants explore how to create activities, create practical expectations and evaluate performance.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Explore the elements of student leadership
  • Identify nontraditional student leadership within current learning environments
  • Examine examples of meaningfully engaged nontraditional student leadership in multiple settings
  • Learn activities and approaches that foster engagement
  • Develop or co-create nontraditional assessments, including portfolios, presentations and other formats

Decision-Making in Partnerships

Educational decision-making affects students, parents, and educators personally, in classrooms, building-wide, district and state levels everyday without actually engaging all partners in the process. Participants in this workshop examine those decisions and explore new avenues for engaging each other as partners throughout the process.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Identify the breadth of possibilities to engage partners in decision-making throughout education
  • Examine research that explores multiple roles for decision-making partners
  • Determine points of disengagement for partners as decision-makers
  • Learn new approaches and avenues that empower partners of all kinds to learn while leading 
To learn more about what we do in schools, visit SoundOut.org or call (360) 489-9680 today!
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!