Charlotte-Meck Youth Involvement in Election 2013!

Over the summer I collaborated with several students and Generation Nation, a non-partisan civic education organization to put together a youth candidate guide for the 2013 election.  We created questionaires for the candidates to answer.  The questions emphasize issues that impact youth including public education, neighborhood safety, and plans to increase youth involvement in policy decisions.  The guide is meant to be shared as an educational resource for students who are looking to learn about the local elections in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community.

This is the link to the youth candidate guide.

Here are some other opportunities for youth to participate in the Kids Voting 2013 Mock Election.  If you are 18 or over, be sure to vote early or on election day, which is November 5th!

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Brooklyn Free School- Lessons about Student Voice in our Schools

In my time at Governor’s school I was introduced to a segment from This American Life focusing on the Brooklyn Free School.

In the school students are the primary decision makers and policies within the school are voted on democratically by the students.  I found this example intriguing, mainly because I have contemplated what a school influenced so heavily by student voice might look like.  The Brooklyn Free School is just one example in a small and intimate classroom environment.

I began to question whether this type of initiative and freedom to promote students as the primary decision makers could be implemented on a larger scale at schools across the nation.  I would have to think that there would be limitations: mainly the feasibility of having all school meetings on such a large scale.  But I still question whether there are elements of student voice that could easily be replicated successfully in schools of varying size, structure, and student makeup.

Students need to be the ones determining what it is they want to get out of their education in order to strive for whatever their desired outcome may be.  This desired outcome can take many forms whether it be skills or knowledge they want to master, or experiences they would like to take part in.  Students voicing the desired outcome are essential to creating the type of environment educators and policymakers strive to create, one where students are truly engaged in their studies and motivated to ask the critical questions and move forward in their line of thinking.

As many students will be heading back to school in the next few weeks, educators are working on ways to establish a positive school culture, ways to allow for student voice must be a part of that conversation.

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Observer Explorers Post

Over the past few months I have attended a program called the Charlotte Observer Explorers Post.

The program is a way for high school students who are  interested in journalism to learn more about some of the career options in the field.

Through the program students also have the opportunity to write articles and get feedback from experts in the field.  As an aspiring writer, I  benefitted from this program and I would recommend it to other students who share my interest.

Here’s the link to the final articles written by my class.  The article I wrote focuses on high school students’ search for summer employment. While writing the article, I learned a lot about the CMS academic internship program so I will also link to that information if anyone is interested.

2012-2013 Explorers Post Articles

CMS Academic Internships



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Task Force Survey!

Update: Over the past few weeks, the task force I am serving on has been looking at some strategies to successfully integrate educational technology and blended learning into the classroom.

The group has discussed ways to cultivate partnerships with members of the community, including businesses and charitable organizations in an effort to improve access and introduce students to some of the vocational applications of the technologies they are exposed to in the classroom.

In addition to efforts to reach out to these organizations, each of the 22 strategic task forces has submitted questions to the CMS Task Force Survey to ask for community input.

The survey can be accessed here:


The task forces will consider the survey responses as feedback before making final recommendations to Dr. Morrison in June.

Check the specific groups you are interested in, or answer them all, your input is encouraged!

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Tech. Task Force Update!

The Task Force meetings are in full swing!

So far my group has discussed Gaggle, a web-based service CMS has purchased for students that gives each student 7 gigabytes of storage to upload files as well as student email. It also includes features that allow students to chat with students in their classes.

The representatives from CMS reported many students are already using Gaggle, the district is working to get all schools on board.  I haven’t used it for school yet, but I made my account at the meeting.  I want to hear some feedback from students who have used it!  If you haven’t used it, do you think a resource like this would be helpful in your class?

Let me know!

Also, I wanted to share this link, it’s important that all of the task forces have student input, if there is a concern you would like to see addressed, this is a chance to give feedback!

In addition, Dr. Morrison will be hosting Task Force Town Halls to discuss what the Task Forces have worked on so far, and get community input.

The dates for the Town Halls are:

February 27th 6-8:30 p.m  at E.E. Waddell Language Academy

March 4th 6-8:30 p.m at North Mecklenburg High School

March 11th 6-8:30 p.m at Butler High School

More Task Force updates to come!

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Technology and Blended Learning Task Force Introduction

I am currently serving as a student member of the CMS Technology and Blended Learning task force.  After each meeting I will be writing updates about each of the discussions and my experience on the task force.  Most importantly, I want to explore how the policies being discussed, if implemented would affect students.

I will share any new concepts or ideas that have been brought into the discussion, as there are some interesting approaches that if implemented,  would alter styles of teaching, the way we as students learn, and the environment where learning takes place.

The first meeting on Monday January 28th was an introductory meeting.  The meeting started with discussion about the impact access to technology has on each of the 8 goals Dr. Morrison outlined earlier this school year.  That being said, technology is of great importance as the district evaluates the effectiveness of a number of initiatives.

Members of the task force were asked to write some initial ideas about classroom technology as a starting point for the conversation that will take place as the group meets throughout the coming months.  Changes in the classroom structure, improvements in CMS broadband infrastructure, and how the district ought to obtain grants for more classroom technology were some of the ideas that came up.

One initiative that was briefly brought up was the idea of a “flipped classroom.”   I found this concept interesting.  In a flipped classroom homework is lecture style and in class assignments are higher-level thinking.  Students are able to learn the basic information at home, so that once they arrive at school, they are able to work on activities that apply the concepts they have already learned.  Concepts like this one are some of the ways that the traditional classroom structure could change for many students.

Here’s an explanation of the flipped classroom I found that sums it up.

The group will evaluate many similar ideas throughout the year.  It is important to note that everything that is a part of this discussion is not final until the group makes its final recommendation to Dr. Morrison at the end of the year.

I am working to help provide student voice in the task force discussions.  If you are a student and have any feedback you can provide about the topic of educational technology, I would love to hear it. Please comment on the posts with any questions, feedback, or ideas.

More updates to come!

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Monday, November 26th, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison spoke about his plans for the district at the CMS Superintendent’s 100th Day Event at the Belk Theater.  I had the opportunity to attend and report on the event along with several student reporters from schools across Mecklenburg county.

A student orchestra performed before Morrison took the stage.  The event made an effort to showcase the arts that CMS students take part in.

Early on in his address Dr. Morrison discussed his efforts to listen to feedback from the community. He referenced his visits to all of the CMS schools as well as meetings held with community leaders, parents, staff, and organizations looking to partner with CMS.  Morrison stressed the importance of “cultivating innovative partnerships.”  He said the community conversation has guided what he laid out as the next steps for CMS.

Morrison outlined eight main goals for the district, in a powerpoint presentation entitled “The Way Forward.”

In summary, the goals included increasing student achievement through professional development for teachers, offering options for students, partnerships in the community, and utilization of educational technology.

One program that was presented  was an initiative to create personalized plans for students through electronic portfolios, as a way of allowing students to have a structure that parents and teachers can use to better meet the needs of the student.

Morrison also announced creation of 22 community task forces with the goal of receiving feedback from students, parents, and staff members.

All eight goals can be found on the CMS website.

 After listening to Morrison’s speech and attending the press conference that followed, I believe that it was important for Morrison to specify his plans for the district moving forward.

One of the main points that I could relate to as a student was when Dr. Morrison talked about what are known as the irreplaceables.  The irreplaceables refer to highly effective teachers who have a major positive impact on a student’s education.  Dr. Morrison briefly acknowledged the fact that studies have shown that CMS and other districts like it have failed to retain many of these top teachers.  As a student, I can understand the effect that truly great teachers can have and the district must work to strengthen school environments and accommodate many of these top teachers.

I look forward to increase in student involvement in the decision making process as well as more options for students such as greater focus on magnet and career and technical education programs.  In the coming years, I hope to see an increase in acknowledgement of highly effective teachers, along with retention of the teachers who are benefiting students the most.

The goals outlined in Morrison’s address Monday will set the stage for the action the district will take.  Overall, the eight goals Morrison outlined in his address are a strong start,  ultimately the implementation of the proposed programs and strategies and how they affect students will be the true indicator of success.

View the powerpoint with more detailed descriptions of the eight goals here:

Dr. Morrison addresses audience Monday outlining 8 main goals for the district.

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