Student Voices

Last night I received an email from a good friend of mine and the DEN, Deneen Frazier Bowen.  Deneen is national keynote speaker and actress.  If you attended the DEN pre-conference last year at T+L in Dallas…she was the one on roller skates!  She is putting together another incredible presentation for this year’s NECC and has asked for some help.  I have included her request below.

I am interested in any assistance you can provide to help me in developing a new idea I have for continuing to bring student voices into educational decisionmaking. The result of this work will be the debut of a new show/performance this June at NECC 2007 in Atlanta.

I’m currently exploring an approach called “documentary theater” which involves interviewing many voices around a common topic or event, selecting excerpts from each interview and then performing those excerpts in concert with one another. This provides a view that is both authentic and complex and, I hope, will give educators ideas about how to incorporate students into decisionmaking around learning. Ultimately, I want every viewer of this new show to be compelled to evaluate what systemic mechanisms exist, if any, in their own institutions to leverage the power of student ideas, concerns and dreams.

My current need is to identify K-12 schools and districts where students are an integral part of system decision-making. In particular, I am interested in discovering where students are in conversation with educators about learning and curriculum, not just the cultural aspect of the school (e.g., student council). I want to interview students (all ages) who are already at the table so, by representing their voices as an actor, I can encourage other educators to make places at their tables of discussion (curriculum planning/development, strategic planning, etc.).

Any leads you can provide within the next few weeks will be very appreciated. Perhaps you have an example from your own district or school partner! If possible, please send me leads to any districts & schools by Feb. 28th so I can begin to make connections and set up interviews. By the way, it does not matter whether you know an actual student/educator or can just recommend a district or project you’ve heard/read about.

Deneen’s email is


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  1. Sylvia Vigo-Smith said:

    Wow, this project sounds extremely exciting. In Osceola County, FL every school has a School Advisory Committee (SAC) that is usually comprised of administrators, parents, teachers and business partners. This organization makes decisions in all areas of concern regarding the school, academics to grounds up keep to technology. In one school that I worked in students were also a part of the process and their opinions were heard. Specifically in my classroom, I ask students in the beginning of the year what they expect to learn and what they would like to learn and try to base my curriculum for the year taking into consideration their suggestions. I don’t always get through them all but I do my best.

  2. Robin Ellis said:

    I attended a Web 2.0 workshop which was lead by Will Richardson last weekend in Philadelphia at the Science and Leadership Academy. I would suggest you contact Chris Lehman, the principal at SLA,
    I believe the program they have in place aligns with what you are looking for.

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