SoundOut students deliberate on important issues in a Seattle high school.
SoundOut students deliberate on important issues in a Seattle high school.


Introduction: Inquiry-based lesson plan for 4-16 students and adult participants

Goal: When this session is complete, participants should be able to…

  • Acknowledge issues and concerns
  • Anticipate and plan for problems before they occur

Time: 40 minutes

Materials: Flip chart paper and markers; index cards and pens/pencils

Space: Enough to accommodate whole group

Considerations: Even after discussing power and respect, laying ground rules, building teams, defining terms, and talking about structural barriers between students and adults, issues often remain. Concerns may be raised by people in the school who have not been a part of the process of fostering Student-Adult Partnerships. Participants themselves may have concerns. Therefore, it is critical to get the issues out on the table and address them. Without clear and open communication, the group runs the risk of having the issues surface later to sabotage their work.



  1. Distribute two or three index cards (scratch paper may also be used) to each person. Place the rest within reach.
  2. Ask the group to think of their worries and fears about the partnerships they are building, Tell them to imagine worst-case scenarios—or even just annoying-case scenarios. Examples include over-burdening staff, adults not following through on their promises slower board meetings. Adults taking over, students misrepresenting the agency in public, etc. Have people write each concern on an index card. Using anonymous index cards allows people to admit to worries that they might otherwise not express.
  3. Collect cards. Read them aloud and create a master list on the flip chart. If there are a lot of issues, create priorities by having people come up and place check marks by the three they are most concerned about.
  4. If the number of issues and /or the number of participants is small enough, with no more than 10 people, you can work in the large group. Otherwise, break the large group into smaller groups of 4-8 people.
  5. Each small group should come up with…
  • At least three ways to prevent this concern from occurring
  • At least three ways to deal with it if it happens
  1. Ask each small group to share their discussion with the large group.To close, ask if there is a concern that wasn’t addressed that someone feels is critical. If time allows, address it then. Otherwise, make sure it will be discussed at some point in the near future.



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SoundOut is an international technical support project focused on student voice, student engagement and Meaningful Student Involvement. We offer workshops, tools and technical assistance to K-12 schools including teachers, administrators and students themselves. For more information visit our About Us page.

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