The aims of Meaningful Student Involvement cover a lot of ground. The first aim is to deepen learning for all students in every school, everywhere, all of the time.
Aim 1: Deepen Learning through Meaningful Student Involvement
Effective learning is deepened learning. Deepened learning is life transforming, paving the road for a lifelong commitment to expanding personal knowledge and skills that allow people to change their lives and make a difference in the world. Every person is capable of making a difference in the world in a positive, powerful way. The first aim of Meaningful Student Involvement is to foster deepened learning for all students in every school, everywhere, all of the time. In order to do this, students will become partners in every facet of education. Simultaneous to deepening their learning, Meaningful Student Involvement will strengthen learner commitment to learning, community and democracy.
Meaningful involvement builds the access that learners have to the tools that build their literacy. They gain access to the materials they need to transform education as well as the people who make schools function, operate and change every single day. This may mean high school students partnering with a district program director to conduct research to benefit a grant application that will establish an outreach program for area elementary students. It could include English language learners from Latin America working with a curriculum committee to select the best literature for Spanish language classes for non-native speakers. Eighth grade students may develop and facilitate an outreach program with their school counselors to introduce and integrate incoming fifth grade students into their middle schools. Graduating seniors might write deeply reflective and evaluative reflections summarizing their learning journey as part of their graduation requirements and develop substantive, meaningful documents to share their recommended best practices, tips and tools with teachers in specifically designated student-led professional development days. Kindergarten students might participate in design activities for a new school building that replaces their current one. The access that is implicit throughout these activities might include high usage of technology; interactive sessions with adults from a variety of backgrounds in the education system and throughout the community; and the ability to identify what they need to learn for themselves.
Learning through Engagement
Student engagement soars through Meaningful Student Involvement by building sustained connections throughout the learning experience. Every activity they are involved in focuses on applied learning that positions them as problem solvers who directly contribute to making a positive, powerful and effective difference throughout education. They design learning activities, determine learning objectives, and facilitate their own learning experiences and those for other students, too. Co-learning with adults, in Meaningful Student Involvement students experience substantial opportunities for self-assessment, too, as they constantly explore their own intentions, abilities, successes and challenges throughout the process of change.
Authentic Student Voice
The process of Meaningful Student Involvement also emphasizes student expression. Deliberately establishing Student/Adult Partnerships requires high levels of communication, and in order to do that students have many opportunities to build their verbal, written, artistic and other forms of appropriate expression. All these types of intentionally infused into the process in order to reach the multiple engagement styles of students, which mirror multiple intelligences. Written expression, storytelling, multimedia presentations, building and making, and creative/artistic outlets are all key to making a difference in schools and substantiating student learning through meaningful involvement.
Questions to Ask
- When can students not learn from student involvement?
- Why are students limited to receiving classroom credit only for activities when adults approve of the learning they experience?
- Which learners are not experiencing Meaningful Student Involvement right now? Why not?
- Learning from Meaningful Student Involvement
- Student Voice Revolution: Meaningful Student Involvement Handbook
- SoundOut Student Voice Bibliography