The 2016 SoundOut Summer Camp is happening August 1-12 at Cleveland High School in Seattle, Washington. Over the last five years, SoundOut has partnered with Seattle Public Schools to teach more than 100 students how to change the world! This year, we’re teaching students how to TAKE CONTROL of their education and how to MAKE SCHOOLS BETTER.
The SoundOut Summer Camp is for Cleveland students who want to improve their learning and their school. Everyday includes workshops, activities, games, videos and reading.
By participating (full attendance) in this program, students will receive 0.5 elective credit, and will be able to earn up to 20 service learning hours for participating in continuing activities throughout the school year.
Between August 3 and August 14, 2015, SoundOut is taking up residence at Cleveland High School in Seattle, Washington.
Over those two weeks, twenty high school students will join SoundOut staff to learn how to change the world, starting with the education system they spend at least thirteen years participating in. As a predominantly African American and Asian American school in a low-income neighborhood, there are plenty of opportunities to create change!
With six hours of programming everyday, students will experience hands-on, practical learning opportunities. FUN is at the middle of everything, and we’ll also be infusing critical thinking, reflection and sustainability lessons throughout the entirety of the camp.
As part of the ongoing SoundOut Student Voice Team at Cleveland, the students will make plans for action with our partners at Service Learning Seattle throughout the 2015-16 school year and have unique opportunities to contribute to school improvement planning, teaching professional development and more.
Wanna see how its going? Stay tuned over the next few weeks as I live blog from Cleveland!
This video features a SoundOut project in a school in Washington State called the Secondary Academy for Success, or SAS. At SAS, we provided professional development for teachers. We also facilitated skill-building and knowledge-sharing workshops for students, as well as an informational night for parents and the community.
Afterwards, students co-led a school-wide student forum where we all collected info about school improvement. Students eventually partnered with teachers to co-create designs for a new school building, as well as provide ongoing input in the overall school improvement planning process. Watch the video, read the report and share your comments below!
Located in Olympia, Washington,CommonAction Consulting is the home of SoundOut, and is led by Adam Fletcher.
Over the last decade, CommonAction Consulting has worked for more than 200 schools across the United States and Canada. Working with K-12 buildings, districts, state and provincial education agencies, SoundOut has helped educators create sustainable, effective approaches to engaging students as partners throughout the education system.
In addition to SoundOut, CommonAction is also home to initiatives focused on youth engagement in communities (The Freechild Project) and personal engagement.
Seattle Young Peoples Project, or SYPP, operates several student-led projects in Seattle, Washington, that focus on social justice and youth empowerment.
One program called Youth Undoing Institutional Racism is currently working on several social justice in school issues, including getting military recruiters out of schools and rehiring union busdrivers who were laid off.
In the past they have successfully challenged racist school mascots and got Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” approved by the school district for use in high school history classes.
Other projects have addressed homophobia in schools, racist school mascots and teacher hiring practices.
In 1970, a group of students and their parents lobbied the Seattle School District to open an alternative high school that operated differently from the rest of the district. They particularly asked for a school without curriculum that centered on student interests, where teachers and students would share decision-making and activities could diverge from expectations without impeding regulations from the school board. After a multi-year fight, The Nova Project opened. Since then, the school has stayed small and focused.
Today, the mission of Nova is “to be a democratically governed learning community of broadly educated, diverse, creative and independent thinkers who work collaboratively and demonstrate a high degree of individual and social responsibility.” Students and adults continue to share decision-making, and Nova students have an equal voice with adults in the school in a number of areas, including curriculum, teacher hiring, the school budget, and more. Each student determines their own learning schedule, and is required to take a role in governing the school. Students at Nova learn through project-based approaches to teaching. Seminar-style courses, multi-level classes and independent study are hallmarks of the school, which targets under-resourced, under-achieving students as well as self-driven learners.
The school does not grade students, instead relying on a system of self-assessment. Students meet monthly with learning coordinators who track their progress. Students focus learning time on non-core topics primarily related to social justice. There is a weekly commitment to social activism that is supported in a variety of ways by adults throughout the school community. There are also extracurricular activities focused on a number of topics, including groups focused on student identities, “other wellness”, transitions, “unorthodox chess”, and a POC (People of Color) group. Students at Nova are regularly credited throughout Seattle for their contributions to the community and their rates of acceptance to higher education.
NOVA opened as a public alternative school in Seattle, Washington, in 1970.
Their unique curriculum offers students the opportunity to learn through democratic school governance. Committees govern the school through consensus-based decision-making. Membership is voluntary and includes both staff and students, each of whom have an equal vote. Teachers serve on one or more committees, and model leadership skills.
Student participation in committees gives them a stake in their education, and encourages responsibility in their personal lives.
In 1972, the Washington state department of education reported that they encouraged local school boards to consider roles for students on school boards.
Today, students can join district and state school boards but cannot vote on either.
Methods to select district representatives vary across the state.
According to a 2005 article, “The Washington State School Directors Association estimates that just 20 students serve among the state’s 296 school boards. The seven-member Seattle School Board has no student representative.”
A national nonprofit organization based in Olympia, Washington called Generation YES promotes the role of technology in education by engaging students as expert trainers to teachers in elementary, middle and senior high schools.
Students learn complex computer skills, as well as how to design lesson plans and deliver training. Educators, in turn, learn about students’ capacities for technology and teaching. Launched in the 1990s, Generation YES was one of the original programs engaging students as professional development experts in schools. (Fletcher, 2005b)