Meaningful Student Involvement in Grades 6-8

Meaningful Student Involvement in middle schools is experiential and project-based, emphasizing teamwork and results for all students. These actions encourage students to take increasing levels of responsibility for improving their schools. They can also lay an essential foundation for successful high school and higher education experiences. (Zlotkowski, 2002)

The following activities detail where students have been meaningfully involved in middle schools, including specific skill building and learning connections. Additionally, activities in middle schools span a variety of core curriculum, extracurricular activities, assessments and other activities, transforming adults’ perspectives of student roles in schools. (Bryant, 2007)

Middle School Students

Meaningful Student Involvement for middle school students might begin with being engaged in education planning. For instance, full membership on school committees can facilitate student learning about school leadership, and teach them about issues in education. Their communication skills and applied citizenship skills can increase too. Engaging students as partners in education research can begin with teaching them research methods and show them the array of issues in education. They learn to assess data and design action projects, along the way learning skills in writing, data-focused math, communications, and specific issue areas that arise.

Meaningfully involving middle school students in teaching can mean student/adult co-teaching. Students can learn about classroom planning, facilitation, and self- and group evaluation skills. Their skills in writing and other forms of communication can be reinforced too. To engage students as partners in evaluation educators can use student-created school assessments in their classes. This can improve group decision-making and evaluation skills, as well as critical thinking, communications, and knowledge around specific subject areas.

Decision-making is an obvious area for a lot of meaningful involvement for middle school students. Whole school student forums led by students can teach facilitation and event planning skills. While they learn to identify issues in education for a variety of students, student partners can also improve their communication skills and their appreciation for diversity in action. Middle school students can learn about advocacy through school-focused service learning, which combines classroom learning goals with meaningful community service focused on education.

Students can learn project planning skills and how to identify issues in education, as well as skills in critical reflection, communications, and group leadership. When middle school students lead community organizing they can do almost anything, including designing their own school improvement agenda. Doing this can teach them about issues in education, group processes, and collaboration. They can also learn concrete skills in communication and applied citizenship.

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