Center for Youth Voice in Practice and Policy @ WKCD

“One thing I always told myself was that I don’t have to be the tail.  I got to be the head. I know that education is power.””

                                                                                                                                                                                                          - Seattle, WA high school junior


Bringing Chicago Public Schools into the 21st Century
Students’ Ideas on Using 21st Century Technology to Improve the Rigor, Relevance and Relationships of High School
Imagine . . .
If after the earthquake in Haiti, CPS students spoke to geologists studying Haitian plate tectonics and collaborated on ways to rebuild Haiti.
If English Language Learners listened to their own mistakes after creating recordings of themselves, therefore increasing their fluency dramatically.
A struggling first year teacher goes to the CTX to download a master teacher’s physics lesson, integrating her expertise within his classroom.
If a Spanish class in Chicago has daily speaking sessions in English and Spanish with a classroom in Mexico City. 
If teachers were given the liberty to expand their resources, harnessing the power of YouTube to show different world perspectives in their classroom.
If CPS became more than a big school system, transforming into one online learning community where students can experience classroom instruction outside of their school building.
   from Bringing Chicago Public Schools into the 21st Century
Catalyst article21st_Century_Technology_files/Chicago%20Teens%20on%20School%20Technology.%20PDF.pdf
Final student report21st_Century_Technology_files/Mikva%20Challenge%20Report.PDF


In the preface to their report on re-imagining technology in Chicago schools, the Mikva Challenge Education Council writes:

We are a group of fifteen students from different public high schools throughout the city who meet regularly with Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman to give our recommendations on improving the city’s schools.

Together at the beginning of this summer, our council and CEO Huberman chose the summer research question: how 21st century technology can improve the rigor, relationships and relevance of high school.

Collecting data and gathering the much needed research for our report was not an easy task. We walked the streets of downtown Chicago to gather information from professionals such as lawyers and professors. We read numerous articles and publications on the subject of technology. We spoke with experts in different fields, held panel discussions, and conducted our own research which consisted of 380 student surveys.

After more than 120 hours of intense research, we found out how schools nationwide implement technology engaging their students in learning both inside and outside of the classroom. We also found examples of new devices and programs that could expand and improve the techniques teachers use in the classroom. The recommendations that we viewed as most essential were broken into six areas that we call “buckets.” The six buckets are: Teaching, Learning, Technology Policy, Resources, Communication, and School Culture.

The Education Council has chosen six recommendations we consider most important. We believe these six recommendations are crucial and organic to our movement of bringing CPS into the 21st Century.

  1. CPS should offer mandatory semester workshops for teachers on successfully utilizing technology in the classroom.

  2. If a course is not offered at a student's school, he or she should be allowed to take the course at a different school through video conferencing, while still being in his/her school.

  3. Teachers should have a personal password for the use of unblocking CPS “restricted‟ websites for educational purposes. The principal‟s discretion will determine which websites can be viewed.

  4. Cell phones should be allowed during passing periods, lunch and as a teacher-defined learning tool (e.g. as for research, surveying students and background knowledge).

  5. CPS should be equipping schools with iPod touches, Mac Books, Flip Cams, and Smart boards to enhance the classroom experience by building sponsorships with companies who can provide them.

  6. There should be a video that CPS shows city-wide, as well as student-led programs for students in schools about the dangers of sexting and cyber-bullying and their consequences.

Mikva Challenge is a nonpartisan 501(c)3 organization that prioritizes the development of civic leadership in underserved Chicago high school youth. Since 2000, Mikva Challenge has trained over 20,000 young people through elections, activism and policymaking programs. 

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