Meaningful Student Involvement Guide to Students as Partners in School Change

Meaningful Student Involvement Guide to Students as Partners in School Change by Adam Fletcher
The cover to Adam Fletcher’s Meaningful Student Involvement Guide to Students as Partners in School Change (2005).

This e-book describes the elements of meaningful student involvement in the context of school change efforts. It presents a five-step cycle of listening, validating, authorizing, mobilizing, and reflecting on student voice; a tool to measure the quality of activities involving student voice; and several examples of what students as researchers, planners, teachers, evaluators, decision-makers, and advocates look like in practice, at elementary, middle, and high schools. These tools include student-created district budgets, decision-making roles for students on committees for hiring teachers and principals, and student-led forums and conferences. Additionally, it presents barriers to implementing this type of reform and possible strategies to meet these challenges.

(28 pgs, 2005, FREE)

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SoundOut Student Voice Series

The SoundOut Student Voice Series introduces the theory of Meaningful Student Involvement by expert practitioner Adam Fletcher, founder of SoundOut. The books in this series define terms and share mental models; detail benefits; share how to plan action; detail what action looks like; identify learning opportunities; explore how to teach students about school; examine potential barriers and how to overcome them; address assessment; and detail the ultimate outcomes of Meaningful Student Involvement. Each of these books is derived from the SoundOut Student Voice Handbook.

 

Books in this Series


Book 1. Making Meaning With Students

Making Meaning With Students - SoundOut Student Voice Series #1 by Adam F.C. Fletcher

The first book is called “Making Meaning With Students” and introduces the theory of Meaningful Student Involvement. This book proposes that all students of all ages are full humans and introduces them as active partners in learning, teaching and leadership throughout education, instead of passive recipients. It then highlights a short history of educational circumstances that have treated students as partners, and proposes there is a crisis of purpose in schools today that is solvable through shared responsibility. The book closes by summarizing how schools can change. (74 pages, 2017)

 


Book 2. Student Voice and Student Engagement

Student Voice and Student Engagement - SoundOut Student Voice Series #2 by Adam F.C. Fletcher

Book two focuses on the related notions of student voice and student empowerment. Reviewing two distinct literature fields, it summarizes a wide swath of student voice literature related to curriculum, teaching, classroom management and school reform. It then introduces student engagement as a psychological, emotional and social factor in schools that intersects with student voice. Juxtaposing Meaningful Student Involvement against both of these, this book positions the theory as a distinct, yet related, phenomenon with implications throughout the entirety of the education system. (42 pages, 2017)

 


Book 3. Frameworks for Meaningful Student Involvement

Frameworks for Meaningful Student Involvement - SoundOut Student Voice Series #3 by Adam F.C. Fletcher

The third book examines Fletcher’s distinct “frameworks of Meaningful Student Involvement,” which are formed by a series of mental models. Forming the practical basis of Meaningful Student Involvement, these models can guide practitioners and researchers alike. There are seven featured here, including student/adult partnerships; the cycle of engagement; key characteristics; the ladder of student involvement; adult perspectives of students; spheres of meaning; and a learning process. Based in the author’s experience and studies, these models can be vital tools for planning, implementation and assessment of different practices. (92 pages, 2017)

 


Book 4. Benefits of Meaningful Student Involvement

Benefits of Meaningful Student Involvement - SoundOut Student Voice Series #4 by Adam F.C. Fletcher

 

In the next book, Fletcher examines the benefits of this theory. Beginning by explicitly delineating the aims of Meaningful Student Involvement, the book then summarizes the research-based outcomes, in addition to identifying a wide variety of research that supports the theory. The impacts on learning and child and youth development are expanded on, and the book closes by exploring how this research impacts practice and is incorporated into practice. (62 pages, 2017)

 


Book 5. Planning for Meaningful Student Involvement

Planning for Meaningful Student Involvement - SoundOut Student Voice Series #5 by Adam F.C. Fletcher

 

The fifth book explores planning for Meaningful Student Involvement. The book elaborates on different roles throughout the education system to consider, as well as different kinds of students that can become meaningfully involved. Fletcher then identifies the different people and locations throughout education that can engage students as partners, including individual schools, local districts, state and provincial agencies, and federal agencies. There is a long list of issues that can be addressed through Meaningful Student Involvement, and strategies that can be considered to transform the theory into action. The book then expands on different ways to prepare individuals to become meaningfully involved, including students and adults. Places are considered to, with sections on preparing schools and the education system at large. The final section in this book encourages the reader to consider the ethical implications of Meaningful Student Involvement. (74 pages, 2017)

 


Book 6. Meaningful Student Involvement in Action

Meaningful Student Involvement in Action - SoundOut Student Voice Series Book #6 by Adam Fletcher Sasse

 

Envisioning Meaningful Student Involvement in Action can be challenging for adults who are used to today’s education system. In book six, Fletcher expands on the idea, exploring different types of action in-depth. A comprehensive picture is painted as readers look at examples of students as school researchers, educational planners, classroom teachers, learning evaluators, systemic decision-makers and education advocates. This book also addresses engaging disengaged students and gives examples of schoolwide and large scale programs. He also shares the need for healthy, safe and supportive learning environments that engender Meaningful Student Involvement for all learners. (114 pages, 2017)

 


Book 7. Learning through Student Voice

Learning through Student Voice - SoundOut Student Voice Series #7 by Adam F.C. Fletcher

Book seven explores what is learned through Meaningful Student Involvement. It discusses grade-specific approaches to learning, sharing what happens in elementary, middle and high schools, as well as what adults can learn. This book identifies different roles for teachers specifically, and summarizes a number of learning strategies and classroom structures that can be used to catalyze learning with students as partners. Fletcher then examines how to acknowledge Meaningful Student Involvement, and shows how educators can build ownership in action. (62 pages, 2017)

 


Book 8. Teaching Students about School

Teaching Students About School - SoundOut Student Voice Series #8 by Adam F.C. Fletcher

 

Teaching students about school is a key to Meaningful Student Involvement. In book eight, Fletcher shares a variety of ideas about this activity, from identifying the purpose of learning to understanding our own understanding of education. The constructivist nature of the theory is made plain as the educators are shown how to validate students’ existing knowledge about schools and how they might expand their own and their students’ understanding about the education system. Fletcher then identifies how Meaningful Student Involvement can be taught through curriculum and instruction, school leadership, building design, student assessment, building climate and culture, student support services, education governance, school/community partnerships, and parent involvement. Stories of action highlight each item. (52 pages, 2017)

 


Book 9. Barriers to Student Voice

Barriers to Student Voice - SoundOut Student Voice Series #9 by Adam F.C. Fletcher

 

The ninth book of the book proposes barriers and practical considerations affecting Meaningful Student Involvement. Fletcher details how the structure of education can be both a barrier and a solution to action. Other barriers examined in-depth include school culture, students themselves, and adults throughout the education system. The book shares a case examination for overcoming obstacles, and then details ways discrimination against students affects the meaningfulness of learning, teaching and leadership. It proposes a “student involvement gap” in addition to exploring convenient and inconvenient student voice. (76 pages, 2017)

 


Book 10. Measuring Student Voice

SoundOut Student Voice Series #10 by Adam F.C. Fletcher

 

Book ten addresses assessing meaningful student involvement. It thoughtfully examines different issues to be measured throughout activities, as well as ways to measure the effect of action on people, activities, and outcomes. This book also discusses how to sustain Meaningful Student Involvement. (56 pages, 2017)

 


Book 11. The Public Student

The Public Student - SoundOut Student Voice Series #11 by Adam F.C. Fletcher

Proposing there is an essential role for learners in democratic society, the last book, book eleven, details what Fletcher calls, “The Public Student.” This student is “any learner whose position is explicitly vital to the future of education, community and democracy.” This book shows what their jobs are, why they are important and what they look like in practice.

 


Related Articles

 

Series on Meaningful Student Involvement

In 2007, SoundOut published a series on Meaningful Student Involvement in partnership with the HumanLinks Foundation and The Freechild Project. In 2014, we published a follow-up to the series.


The Guide to Meaningful Student Involvement (2014) by Adam Fletcher for SoundOut

The Guide to Meaningful Student Involvement

(60 pgs, 2014, FREE) Highlighting a practical framework, important considerations, and real-world examples, this Guide is all about engaging students throughout education. Recommended for anyone interested in student voice, student empowerment, student engagement, or building community in schools. Download.


Stories of Meaningful Student Involvement by Adam Fletcher.

Stories of Meaningful Student Involvement

(40 pgs, 2004, FREE) A collection of examples of meaningful student involvement in action in schools. These anecdotes illustrate various approaches to engaging student voice in school by exploring the applications of engaging students throughout education in dozens of diverse schools. Download.


The Meaningful Student Involvement Research Guide by Adam Fletcher.

Meaningful Student Involvement Research Guide

(36 pgs, 2004, FREE) This booklet can give advocates a “leg up” in their research needs by illustrating the breadth of research available about engaging student voice throughout education. This Guide highlights 14 research studies and includes a useful listing of research available. Download.


Meaningful Student Involvement Resource Guide by Adam Fletcher.

Meaningful Student Involvement Resource Guide

(35 pgs, 2003, FREE) This guide provides descriptions and annotations for dozens of publications, toolkits, organizations, and websites that support student voice throughout education. Download.


Meaningful Student Involvement Guide to Students as Partners in School Change by Adam Fletcher

Meaningful Student Involvement Guide to Students as Partners In School Change

(28 pgs, 2005, FREE) Highlighting a practical framework, important considerations, and real-world examples, this Guide is all about engaging students throughout education. Recommended for anyone interested in student voice, student empowerment, student engagement, or building community in schools. Download.


SoundOut Meaningful Student Involvement Idea Guide

Meaningful Student Involvement Idea Guide

(10 pgs, 2002-2015, FREE) Focusing on practical implementation of meaningful involvement, this brief guide is for students, teachers, principals and others who want something immediate and powerful to happen. Download.


Meaningful Student Involvement Guide to Inclusive School Change by Adam Fletcher for SoundOut.

Meaningful Student Involvement Guide to Inclusive School Change

(28 pgs, 2003, FREE) Working from the assumption that students are excluded from school reform, this guide provides basic information for rebalancing that injustice. Pulling together broad research to support this need, it also shares interesting examples of how its done. Download.

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The Guide to Student Voice Advertisement

Meaningful Student Involvement Planning Guide

(2010, 15 pgs, FREE) MSI Planning Guide coverFor too long student involvement, student voice and student engagement activities have been seen as ways to engage those who already engaged in schools: honors students, traditional student leaders and “star students”. Activities have not have been particularly significant or beneficial to even those students. Meaningful Student Involvement requires deliberation, intention and connection among students, between students and adults, and throughout the larger school and community. That requires planning.

Following is our planning guide designed to encourage students and adults work together to think purposefully, critically and powerfully about their intentions for involving students. Users are challenged to answer each question as clearly as possible; for those that you cannot answer immediately, identify the answers as soon as possible.

Note that this is not an activity planning guide; rather, it is a guide designed to ensure that the activity that you are embarking upon is meaningful. When you have completed the Planning Guide, you are invited to return it to SoundOut for an assessment and further technical assistance (contact us).

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Assessing Student Engagement

SoundOut SOCA ToolSoundOut defines student engagement as any sustained connection a student has with education. That can include people, places, activities, ideas, dispositions, outcomes, or otherwise. These connections can happen psychologically, emotionally, socially and otherwise.

The SoundOut Student Engagement Conditions Assessment Tool can help you determine whether the following conditions are intact in your school, classroom, or program. If they are intact, your Student Engagement effort will be successful. By identifying conditions that are not as strong as is required, your program can determine a clear pathway for continued growth.

Elements that affect student engagement include culture, student involvement, motivation, sustainability, student readiness, adult readiness, evaluation and barriers. Each of these are covered within the tool. This tool can be used by students and adults together, or students or adults alone. Let us know what you think!

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Student Voice Revolution: The Meaningful Student Involvement Handbook

Student Voice Revolution: The Meaningful Student Involvement Handbook by Adam Fletcher

The cover of Student Voice Revolution: The Meaningful Student Involvement Handbook by Adam F.C. Fletcher.

Our Manual is Student Voice Revolution by Adam F.C. Fletcher

Student Voice ​Revolution: The Meaningful Student Involvement Handbook is the master​y​-level book behind SoundOut.org. It is ​focused on student voice, student engagement, student/adult partnerships, and more. 

Containing tons of details, this book is focused on engaging all students in every school as partners in every facet of education for the purpose of strengthening their commitment to learning, community, and democracy. ​There are more than 75 examples from the author’s ​experience and research, as well as literature from throughout education. Never before published tools, new models and useful tips are included, along with more than 300 citations, dozens of recent and historic anecdotes, and ​more.

The book also highlights unique ​approaches, detailed assessments and critical examinations of everyday school activities make this publication ​un​like ​any other available today. Student Voice Revolution should be read by teachers, college students, other educators and school leaders and others focused on education transformation.

Student Voice Revolution is an optimistic, realistic and pragmatic clarion call for the future of public schools in democratic societies. Are YOU ready for this revolution?

About the Author

An internationally-recognized consultant and speaker focused on student voice​,​ author​ Adam Fletcher has worked with schools, education agencies, and other organizations across the United States and Canada. ​He is the author the SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum, The Practice of Youth Engagement and The Guide to Student Voice. His writing has also been published in education journals and magazines around the world.

Title Details

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Meaningful Student Involvement Research Guide

MSIResearch-coverThis booklet can give advocates a “leg up” in their research needs by illustrating the breadth of research available about engaging student voice throughout education. This Guide highlights fourteen research studies and includes a useful listing of research available.

(36 pgs, 2004, FREE)

Table of Contents

  1. Student Perspectives on School Improvement by John Beresford
  2. Authorizing Students’ Perspectives: Toward Trust, Dialogue, and Change in Education by Allison Cook-Sather
  3. Fires in the Bathroom: Advice for Teachers from High School Students by Kathleen Cushman
  4. The Question Of The Student In Educational Reform by DP Ericson & FS Ellett
  5. Special Forum Issue on Student Voice edited by Michael Fielding
  6. The Roles of Youth in Society: A Reconceptualization by Ruthanne Kurth-Schai
  7. Look Who’s Talking Now: Student Views of Restructuring Schools edited by John Kushman
  8. Putting Students at the Centre in Education Reform by Barry Levin
  9. Student Voice in School Reform: Reframing Student-Teacher Relationships and Opening the Floodgates: Giving Students a Voice in School Reform by Dana Mitra
  10. Learning from Student Voices edited by Penny Oldfather
  11. Student Leadership and Restructuring: A Case Study by Cynthia Reed
  12. Critical Voices in School Reform: Students Living Through Change edited by B. Rubin & E. Silva
  13. How to Improve Your School: Giving Pupils a Voice by J. Rudduck & J. Flutter
  14. In Our Own Words: Students’ Perspectives On School edited by Jeffery Shultz & Allison Cook-Sather
  15. What Works in Education Reform: Putting Young People at the Center by Joel Tolman, P. Ford, & Merta Irby
  16. Listening To Urban Kids: School Reform And The Teachers They Want by B. Wilson & HD Corbett

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Stories of Meaningful Student Involvement

This document presents a general overview of meaningful student involvement in the context of school change efforts, and detailed descriptions of its goals and applications.

Specifically, it includes several short vignettes of what students as researchers, planners, teachers, evaluators, decision-makers, and advocates look like in practice at various schools. Each vignette describes a tool to elicit student voice to address a particular school challenge.

Examples include students from Oakland, California, designing, administering, and analyzing surveys about teaching, counseling, and safety at three high schools; students from Anne Arundel County, Maryland, serving as voting members on the district board of education and all advisory, curriculum, and study committees; students from Portland, Oregon, developing and delivering a successful campaign to secure free public transportation to school for all students eligible for free or reduced-price school meals; students from Puyallup, Washington, co-creating with local educators the mission, guiding principles, and constitution of a new high school; and students from Bear Valley, California, conducting a year-long student-driven research process to explore student views of learning.

(40 pgs, 2004, FREE)

Download Stories of Meaningful Student Involvement.


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