5 Resources to Empower Youth Voice and Choice

Students are the most important stakeholder in high school. Here are 5 resources to amplify their voices.

By Team XQ

We only have one day left to cover this month’s theme, Youth Voice and Choice, an XQ School Design Principle. But we hope you continue to use these resources to amplify student voices in your community in the future.

And if you want to keep this conversation going, check out the Rethink Together Forum. Now, give me 🖐, and let’s get to it…

MANIFEST: Make Your School Mission Come to Life

Students at Head-Royce School use capstone projects as an opportunity to explore social justice using the research skills they learned over the last semester.

Why it matters: This is only one of the ways Head-Royce lives up to its student-centered mission of fostering a lifelong love of learning and global citizenship. Head-Royce shared five key elements used to develop this school culture and mindset:

  • Empower voice and choice by asking important guiding questions
  • Help students make connections between their learning and the real world
  • Provide feedback in stages throughout a project
  • Give students an opportunity to create solutions
  • Create a sense of community by giving students an audience

Extra credit: See what students said about working on these projects.

REFLECT: Student Stories That Are Making History

The New York Times series, “Teenagers in The Times,” highlights teens across the country and their authentic stories. And a new edition is published every first Thursday of each month.

Why it matters: These stories act as an archive or history book detailing what it’s like to be a teenager right now. Plus, NYT makes it easy to incorporate every issue into your lesson plan. Here’s how:

  • Ask students to write a letter to one of the teens featured
  • Examine hot-button topics covered in the issue you’re reading with your class
  • Challenge students to identify how these stories relate to their community

Extra credit: Use the lesson plan or activity sheet at the top of every issue in your classroom.

ANALYZE: Remote Learning Insights We All to Know

YouthTruth is conducting a national survey that measures academic and social-emotional learning to gain insights about the student experience while school buildings are closed.

Why it matters: Remote learning is new for most of us. And its effects, especially as it relates to the coronavirus pandemic, are happening in real-time. Surveys like these give us insight into how we can #RethinkHighSchool so that every student succeeds whether school buildings are open or closed. Here’s more info about this free survey:

  • Takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete
  • Available in both English and Spanish
  • Survey entries close on Friday, June 19
  • Aggregated data will be released this summer

Extra credit: Ask students to participate and find out how to get a personalized report.

INSPIRE: Developing Our Country’s Future Leaders

Changemakers and influencers like Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg didn’t get where they are today by sitting idly at a desk; they saw problems in their communities and looked for ways to solve them.

Why it matters: Six high school seniors were featured in PEOPLE for going above and beyond to help others. Use their stories to inspire the next generation of leaders in your classroom:

  • Kylee launched a nonprofit that feeds nearly 600 students
  • Brandon created a basketball nonprofit that supports the American Heart Association
  • Hannah volunteers to help preschoolers at her local community center
  • Priscilla volunteers with students with special needs
  • Shreyaa and her sister co-founded a nonprofit that spreads kindness
  • Matthew helps provide meals and clothes to homeless LGBTQ youth

Extra credit: Meet the students behind these inspiring stories.

CREATE: Incorporate Podcasts Into Your Lesson Plan

What’s one way you can help students amplify their voice while also documenting these momentous times? By empowering them to create a podcast.

Why it matters: Student-produced podcasts are a great project-based learning tool that helps students build real-world skills like public speaking, asking thought-provoking questions, project management, and more. Podcasts also help students:

  • Express themselves creatively
  • Process complex issues they’re facing
  • Work collaboratively (and remotely) to create a sense of community

Extra credit: Explore podcasting resources and tools you can use in your classroom.