Educators Turn To Students For Reform Ideas

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How do you transform education in the state? Some say, you first start by asking students.

A contest run by the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents  (CAPSS) asked students to submit videos with their recommendations on improving education. They received dozens of submissions and recently the organization selected the finalists.

When you ask teens to make a video on how to educate students for tomorrow’s world, everyone will offer their own opinions.

Some say you need more parental motivation, others say let technology grow in the classroom.

Michaela Phonkhoumphon and Jennifer Marrufo are seniors at Platt High School in Meriden. The two young ladies are the winners of this year’s video contest for student voices in education reform. They beat out dozens of other entries from across the state. Their video focused on technology and the various ways it’s changing the landscape or learning.

“There are a lot of different benefits that we can get from using technology,” said Marrufo.

“Instead of having a physical folder of papers you can lose you’ll have a digital folder of all your notes and everything,” said Phonkhoumphon.

And no one knows that better than students in Mr. Flynn’s AP History Class.

In his class there are no textbooks propped open, instead iPads are propped up. All sophomores and AP students get one but come next year all students will forgo their textbook for a tablet. It’s worked well for Platt High School. Teachers say students are more engaged despite possible distractions online but overall learning comes much easier.

This is the second year the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) has done this contest. They say it’s a way to bridge the gap and put the voices of students behind education reform.

“If we want to know how we should teach young people, we should ask them,” said Joe Cirasuolo with CAPSS. He helped oversee the contest. He’s using the insight from teens on improving education to reform education in the state of Connecticut.

“We figured if we work had and smart it’s about a 10 year process.”

A 10 year process to build up more public will for personalized learning systems based on the insight from teens.

“To the extent we can do that we can get policies changed, laws changed, we can get practice changed,” said Cirasuolo.

All that from videos submitted from your average teen walking the halls of junior high and high school.

As part of the contest the girls won money and CAPSS will create one video from all the finalists to show at education seminars.

To learn more about the contest click here.

To see the finalists and winner from this year’s contest, click here.

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  • John Jensen

    What do you do if you have to give a presentation important to you? Right. You practice it. And the higher the stakes, the more you practice it. This is why teachers say "Learn a subject by teaching it." Teaching it involves repeatedly explaining it in bursts long and short. There is no escape from this simple principle that schools seem loath to acknowledge, even though they see it operate every day. Skill development at anything is in direct proportion to practice–which, with knowledge, means writing it and explaining it over and over. If anyone at all is interesting in turning classrooms around in a few weeks using this principle, let me know at, and I will email you the proofs of my 3-book series published last year by Rowman and Littlefield, subtitled "Practice Makes Permanent." John Jensen