Meaningful Student Involvement in Grades K-5

Meaningful Student Involvement in elementary schools is experiential, tangible, and focused. Action is generally based in the classroom, where students work in small groups and gradually build their skills. (Thiessen, 2007) Meaningful Student Involvement requires specific skill building that can lead to important learning connections for young people. Following are generalized examples of activities where students have been meaningfully involved in elementary schools, and what they have learned.

Elementary School Students

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Engaging students as partners in the elementary level can begin in kindergarten, gradually increasing in scope, purpose, intent, and outcomes throughout the fifth and sixth grades. Introducing students to education planning by installing them as members on school improvement committee is an excellent activity. Students can learn cooperative leadership and project planning skills. School improvement can introduce them to the depth of issues in education, and contribute to developing their communications, reading, and writing skills.

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Through meaningful involvement in teaching, elementary students learn to co-design, deliver, and evaluate lesson plans. Their knowledge of learning styles, teaching skills, and evaluation methods can increase. Skills in writing, communication, and the specific subject area they are teaching can increase too.

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There are several ways elementary students can participate in classroom evaluation. Student evaluation of themselves and their teachers teaches self-awareness and critical thinking skills, and reinforces their communication skills. Meaningful Student Involvement in evaluation through student-led parent teacher conferences is an increasingly popular way to engage students as partners in education. They learn to present their own learning through small group facilitation. This increases their communications skills, including writing, speaking, and reading.

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In elementary school, engaging students as partners in decision-making can take the form of student-led classroom governance. This happens as students learning about creating consensus, teambuilding, and applied citizenship. They learn relational skills and communication through application, and understand how they are part of something larger than themselves. When these students are meaningfully involved in education advocacy, such as supporting the school library, they can learn active listening, problem solving, and communication skills.

Examples

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Students in elementary schools can also experience Meaningful Student Involvement through school organizing. For instance, a student-led signature-collecting campaigns promoting their interests can help elementary students learn about creating petitions, as well as understanding the school system and democratic process. Their writing and relational skills increase while they have an applied experience in social studies.

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