Guest Post: Empowering Student Voices through Digital Media Engagement in our Schools

By Sibyl O’Malley, Director of Communications and Community Engagement, California Alliance for Arts Education

 “There is a student named Art in your classroom, your school, your district, she can be the click of comprehension, the moment you master the concept, as long as we give her the chance. Today, she writes of the world she would like to see tomorrow, a world that is colorful and warm, the perfect weather for anyone to bloom.” —Excerpt from “A Student Named Art”, 2016 Student Voices Campaign First Place

Last year, hundreds of students took part in the Student Voices Campaign, an annual video advocacy campaign started by the California Alliance for Arts Education that offers a real-world opportunity for students to learn about and impact school policymaking. Through the Campaign, students across the state spurred exciting changes in their schools, including the expansion of arts programs, the hiring of new teachers, and the addition of gender neutral bathrooms.

In California, students are guaranteed a voice in planning and budgeting for their school district. The Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF, requires that districts consult with students, parents, teachers and community members each spring to create an official plan for the coming years. The Campaign invites students in grades 7-12 to create videos that respond to the prompt, “What’s your vision for your school?” and share them with their local school board.

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The 2017 Student Voices Campaign launched in November, and we’re excited to release for the first time this year the Student Voices Campaign Classroom Guide. The Guide allows teachers to use the Campaign as an interdisciplinary service-learning project in the classroom, with lessons that can be scaled from periods of a few weeks to several months over the course of a school year. The Guide is recommended for teachers grades 7-12 in any subject area. Download the Guide for free at StudentVoicesCampaign.org.

Program Elements and Resources

To support participation that is widespread as well as rigorous, the Alliance has produced:

  1. Classroom Guide: The Classroom Guide is structured as an interdisciplinary service-learning project, with elements of civic participation, creative expression, media production, and community engagement. The Guide uses National Arts and Media Arts Content Standards as well as Common Core Anchor Standards.
  2. Activate Student Voices Guide: This 10-page resource was created in collaboration with Arts for LA for arts organizations that wish to embed the Student Voices Campaign civic engagement processes in their existing programs for youth.
  3. Student Leadership Lab:The lab supports, documents and shares examples of effective leadership and creative advocacy among a cohort of students. Students use Campaign videos to undertake further advocacy in their community, in school board presentations, one-on-one meetings with school leaders, and student-led learning events.
  4. Arts Now Student Voices Summit:This student empowerment event, the culmination of the Campaign, will bring together students, teachers, and stakeholders from around the state to screen Student Voices videos, participate in student-led advocacy workshops, and explore the possibilities and practical steps of a career in the creative sector.

Partners

The California Alliance has expanded the program this year with support from the California Arts Council. Partner organizations for the 2017 Campaign include some of the state’s most influential arts and education leaders, including Adobe Project 1324, Alameda County Office of Education, Arts for LA, California Arts Council, California State Summer School for the Arts Foundation, Center Theatre Group, Get Lit – Words Ignite, Walter & Elise Haas Fund, Clarence E. Heller Foundation, Inner-City Arts, Performing Arts Workshop, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Venice Arts.

2016 First Place Video


2fb34b8Sibyl O’Malley is the Director of Communications and Community Engagement at the California Alliance for Arts Education. She can be reached at sibyl@artsed411.org.

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