Seattle Youth Media Camp

Participants from the 2012 Seattle Youth Media Camp.

Last spring I started exploring the possibilities for Freechild to get involved with a youth-led program this summer. In April, I struck a partnership with Social Moguls, a program created and led by Sekai Senwosret, CommonAction’s vice-president. She connected me to What’s Good 206, a youth-led video program that created regular features for YouTube. I provided a training for the What’s Good 206 staff and crew, and we formed a partnership.

Shortly after making that connection, in May I negotiated a special expansion of the partnership CommonAction has with Seattle Public Schools. Working with their Service Learning Seattle coordinator, Lois Brewer, our three organizations birthed the concept of the 2012 Seattle Youth Media Camp. We decided to reinforce the mission of Cleveland High School, which is my favorite school in Seattle.

Focused on STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics), the school’s almost 700 students are almost all African American and Asian, with only a 4% white student population. Its the most obvious outcome of segregated public schools in Seattle. In spite of almost 100% of the school’s teachers meeting federal guidelines as “highly qualified”, the school consistently scores abysmally on standardized tests. The school is on Washington’s list of “persistently lowest-achieving schools.” The list goes on from there, with media smearing the school for not responding to injections of money or support from the district, state, and feds.

Because of all this, I decided Cleveland is an excellent location for our youth-led education approach. Working with college-age facilitators from Widescreen Eye Films, the Seattle Youth Media Camp is in week two of action. In our 10-day program at the school, we’re teaching students about critical media literacy, teambuilding, action planning, and film production. Service learning is weaved throughout the entirety of the program, along with self-identity, community connections, and more. The students are designing, writing, filming, editing, and presenting their own film to the community this Friday.

This represents a convergence of CommonAction’s main youth outreach programs, The Freechild Project and SoundOut. Presenting the changing roles of young people throughout society as an approach to programming in a school setting, the Seattle Youth Media Camp combines engaging youth in social change with practical classroom learning goals. We’re excited, honored, and hopeful about the future of this work, and I look forward to reporting more soon.

Adam’s Note: Much love and respect to all the folks involved with operating the 2012 Seattle Youth Media Camp, including Austin Williams, Alyssa Piraino, Sun Kim, Young Ho Kim, Sekai Senwosret, and Lois Brewer! Thanks for having me on board y’all!

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

Youth Engagement Training

CommonAction’s Adam Fletcher facilitating youth at a conference in spring 2012.

CommonAction is excited to announce that we’re available across the US and Canada for training on youth engagement starting Fall 2012!

Just over a decade ago I started training youth workers, organization leaders, teachers, government workers, and many other folks on youth engagement. This year I’m excited to have several colleagues on board with me as we travel to communities throughout North America promoting this powerful, positive, and effective basis for youth development, community improvement, education reform, and social change.

If your organization, conference, or community is looking for the most innovative, effective strategies to promote youth engagement, WE ARE THE SOURCE. Our internationally-recognized youth engagement material is one-of-a-kind, and our delivery style makes us exceptional among our peers. Using hands-on, interactive, and practical approaches we teach the latest information, research, and approaches to youth engagement in a variety of settings. And our specialty remains engaging traditionally disengaged youth, so you know you’re dealing with the best available.

Our Youth Engagement Resources

CommonAction staff are available to train on youth engagement and much more. To talk about the possibilities call Adam at (360)489-9680.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

Professional Development on Student Voice

Adam Fletcher facilitating a professional development session in 2011.

Find out what more than 100 K-12 schools, districts, and state education agencies across the US and Canada already know!

Teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, and school support staff who are looking for professional development on student voice have found their answer with CommonAction Consulting and our SoundOut program. Providing hands-on, interactive learning sessions for adults, CommonAction staff are considered experts around the world. 

Our sessions include: 

  • Introduction to Student Voice
  • More than Student Voice
  • Intro and Advanced Meaningful Student Involvement
  • Advanced Student Leadership Training
  • Successful Student Involvement in Decision-Making
  • Learning about Learning
  • Students as Partners in School Improvement
  • Engaging Nontraditional Student Leaders
  • Changing Classroom Climate

…and more.

ASCD, Australia’s Connect magazine, and Education Northwest are some of the sources that have included our president Adam Fletcher’s writing on student voice. He is also a contributing editor to an academic journal called The Review of Education, Pedagogy and Cultural Studies

About Adam Fletcher:

“Adam is one of the most knowledgable people in the world regarding student voice and youth rights. I have attended his thorough and excellent presentations and confer regularly on current work in the field. I highly recommend him as a presenter and a writer in our field.” – Dana Mitra, Associate Professor, Penn State University; Author, “Student Voice in School Reform: Building youth-adult partnerships that strengthen schools and empower youth”.

CommonAction staff is available to train on Student Voice and much more. To talk about the possibilities call Adam at (360)489-9680.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

Meaningful Involvement in Career and Technical Education

This summer, CommonAction is presenting two professional development sessions on Meaningful Student Involvement in Career and Technical Education. Scott LeDuc, a master teacher/trainer with CommonAction, and myself will spend two days with teachers from Bethel School District in Spanaway, Washington, covering this powerful integration of new roles for students as partners with lifelong learning and livelihood education.

Here are the descriptions from Bethel School District’s professional development catalogue. Participants may attend both sessions, but it is not necessary to attend both because they are not sequential.

Day One (Monday, August 20, 2012)
Engaging Students as Partners in CTE—This session will introduce participants to Adam Fletcher’s nationally-recognized “Frameworks for Meaningful Student Involvement.” Participants will explore the main elements, principles, key characteristics, and barriers to engaging students as partners in CTE. You will have the opportunity to use our popular “Types of Meaningful Student Involvement” and learn about our evaluation tools. 

Throughout the session, participants examine real classroom case studies where students are powerfully engaged through Meaningful Student Involvement to meet 21st century learning goals through CTE. Hands-on and interactive activities, practical exercises, and meaningful examples will allow you to draw on your own knowledge and experiences to enhance student engagement in your classroom.

Day Two (Tuesday, August 21, 2012)
Integrating Student Engagement into CTE—Participants in this session will explore the relationship of Meaningful Student Involvement to 21st century learning goals. Focusing on Adam Fletcher’s nationally-recognized “Frameworks for Meaningful Student Involvement” and 21st Century Skills, participants will identify how to practically incorporate these skills into existing classroom approaches. 

The session will be very interactive, emphasizing classroom applications and shared knowledge. With Meaningful Student Involvement as a recognized high-quality standard in schools across the US and Canada, participants will discover how to infuse practical standards into their classroom design and implementation. 

By the end of this session, participants will have gained new abilities focused on teaching 21st Century Skills, discovered new avenues to promote positive, powerful student behavior, and learned effective ways to integrate feedback from students into classroom activities. You will also have begun focused planning to apply this new knowledge.

We’re excited to move further into CTE, and look forward to sharing our expertise. Scott has been a CTE teacher for over a decade, and is passionately committed to moving the field forward. This builds on past CTE and STEM-related work we have done, including working in the fields of technology education, student leadership organizations, and others. CommonAction’s SoundOut program has always been about real world and real life skills, and we’re looking forward to n connecting schools to academics and training they need to bring students on board as partners in this field. 

Also coming this summer, our CTE camp for students focused on youth media! Stay tuned for more details…

CommonAction staff is available to provide professional development for your school or district on Meaningful Student Involvement in Career and Technical Education, Student Voice in CTE, and much more. To talk about the possibilities contact Adam by emailing or calling (360) 489-9680.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

Youth-Driven Programs Workshop

In 2011, I facilitated a seminar for the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development on Youth-Driven Programming. More than 30 people from across the region attended, including organizational leaders, program directors, AmeriCorps members, and others. Here’s the workshop outline.

How to Develop Youth-Driven Programming Outline

Section One: The Basics of Youth Driven Programming

  • Key Terms
  • How Do I Perceive Youth?
  • Cycle of Engagement

Section Two: Making Youth Driven Programming Meaningful

  • Goals of Youth Driven Programming
  • Ladder of Youth Involvement
  • Who and How?
  • Locations for Youth Driven Programming

Section Three: Supporting Youth Driven Programming

  • Scaffolding Youth Driven Programming
  • Barriers to Youth Driven Programming
  • Assessing Youth Driven Programming
  • Planning Youth Driven Programming

I had an excellent learning experience. I led participants through the Cycle of Engagement, and much more. Here’s a teaser of what I shared, and here are the handouts from the workshop with a lot more information.

CommonAction staff is available to train on Youth-Driven Programming and much more! 
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

Supporting Adults in Youth Work

There are a lot of reasons to support youth engagement, including it’s affects on young people and the larger communities they’re part of. Today I want to share an excellent opportunity to find out how youth engagement affects adults and to support them in the process.

Kyla Lackie of Seattle’s SOAR ( and I are co-facilitating a brand-new Youth Engagement Practitioners Cadre starting next month. We are working together with Seattle Public Schools’ Youth Engagement Zone to build a genuine learning community among Seattle’s professionals who work with youth to engage youth. In the process we’re going to cultivate the wisdom of the area, identifying what we know and what we want to learn. We’re going to collaborate on community-building activities and promote real co-learning among different organizations.

This is an exciting project for me, and I want to encourage anyone in my Seattle network to consider applying today. We’re offering good scholarships, and we’re appealing only to experienced folks to join in.

Let me know if you have any questions, or of you’d be interested in hosting me facilitating a cadre in your city. I’m leading Student Voice Cadre in Pasco, Washington, and a Cadre in Miami. Now is time to maturate our approaches, and deepen our senses of belonging. The Youth Engagement Practitioner Cadre is one way to do that! – PDF with basic info – Application

— This is Adam Fletcher’s blog originally posted at For more see http://www.bicyclingfish.comr

Written by Adam Fletcher for CommonAction Consulting. It was originally posted at Contact us for more information by emailing or calling +1 (360)489-9680.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

Excellent Facilitation: Embrace Challenges

Since excellent facilitation is a process, it is important to understand that there will be difficult times ahead. One of the keys to excellent facilitation is knowing that criticism will come – and that can be good. We cannot grow without criticism. In a society where criticism is often a one way street, we must be aware of the outcomes of our actions, embrace these challenges, and learn from them. Following are several strategies for fostering critical thinking with participants.
Seven Ways to Grow Groups

1.     Use think-pair-share. Have individual thinking time, discussion with a partner, and presentation back to the group.

2.     Ask follow-ups. Why? Do you agree? Can you elaborate? Can you give an example?

3.     Withhold judgment. Respond to answers without evaluating them and ask random group members to respond to them.

4.     Summarize. Asking a participant at random to summarize another’s point to encourage active listening.

5.     Think out loud. Have participants unpack their thinking by describing how they arrived at an answer.

6.     Play devil’s advocate. Asking participants to defend their reasoning against different points of view.

7.     Support participant questions. Asking participants to formulate their own questions.


These are the plainest steps I can write down right now for becoming an excellent facilitator. There is plenty of information about facilitation online, and some of it is good. This is meant for those who want to be Excellent. I hope you join us!

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

Excellent Facilitation: Embrace the Journey

Learning is a process, not an outcome. Encourage participants to view the group process as a journey that has no particular destination. However, even experience cannot teach us what we do not seek to learn. 

John Dewey once wrote that we should seek, “Not perfection as a final goal, but the ever-enduring process of perfecting, maturing, refining is the aim of living.” This is true of excellent facilitation. Participants should use group action as a starting point for a lifelong journey that includes learning, reflection, examination, and re-envisioning democracy in our communities. 

Facilitators help groups down that path, and encourage participants to embrace the journey.
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

Excellent Facilitation: Seek Consensus

Whenever a group is discussing a possible solution or coming to a decision on any matter, consensus is a tool excellent facilitators turn to. Following is a consensus-building technique I wrote up originally in 2001. 
Fist-To-Five Decision-Making

Start by restating a decision the group may make and ask everyone to show their level of support. Each person should responds by showing a fist or a number of fingers that corresponds to their opinion.
  • Fist is a no vote – a way to block consensus. It says, “I need to talk more on the proposal and require changes for it to pass.”

  • 1 Finger says, “I still need to discuss certain issues and suggest changes that should be made.”

  • 2 Fingers says, “I am more comfortable with the proposal but would like to discuss some minor issues.”

  • 3 Fingers says, “I’m not in total agreement but feel comfortable to let this decision or a proposal pass without further discussion.”

  • 4 Fingers says, “I think it’s a good idea/decision and will work for it.”

  • 5 Fingers says, “It’s a great idea and I will be one of the leaders in implementing it.”

If anyone holds up fewer than three fingers, they should be given the opportunity to state their objections and the team should address their concerns. Continue the Fist-to-Five process until participants achieve consensus, which is a minimum of three fingers or higher, or determine they must move on to the next issue.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!