Previously on StudentSpeak, we watched teens use digital media to respond to neighborhood violence. In this webisode, we meet student leaders from the Mikva Challenge program who are also working on improving their own communities – by developing a platform to present to Chicago Public School leaders on incorporating technology in the classroom.

“Technology is changing the way that we live,” said Lisa, a 17-year-old from Chicago’s Harper High School and a member of Mikva’s Education Council. “We need to get prepared for the future. We need to know how to work these new things. We need to know how to communicate.”

The Mikva program challenges Chicago high school students to become civic leaders by getting involved in creating change in their own communities.

Lisa and a group of other teen leaders from around the city spent the summer interviewing Chicago teachers, administrators and students to get suggestions about how digital media can be better used in Chicago schools to improve teaching and learning.

One of their first stops was YOUmedia, a 21st-century learning lab at the Harold Washington Library. [Read more on plans to expand YOUmedia in Chicago and nationally.]

“We’re looking to change policy around technology and education,” said Jessica Gingold, Mikva’s Education Council program coordinator. “And YOUmedia students are really the practitioners. They’re the ones who are experts and have experience in what using technology has done for their lives.”

At YOUmedia, the Mikva students received training in the latest digital media technology. They also saw examples of student work, and got lots of ideas about how YOUmedia teens would like to see technology better integrated into their own high school classrooms – some examples include: community service credit for a video project on neighborhood redevelopment; more teacher training; and using Skype to attend classes not offered at one’s own home school.

The Mikva teens produced a white paper with their top recommendations for how to better incorporate 21st-century technology into high school classrooms. [Watch this video Mikva students made about their work:]

Stay tuned for the next StudentSpeak webisode, when students present their findings to Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman.

StudentSpeak, a video series produced by Spotlight, goes behind the scenes to show how teens use digital media in their daily lives. View previous webisodes here:

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