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!

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