Archive for the ‘Social lives’ Category

New digital divide: Lower-income kids waste more time with their gadgets

When technology first began to infiltrate American childhoods, there were fears of a digital divide; children from lower-income families would not have access to the emerging new technologies because of the cost and thus fall behind their more affluent peers whose families could afford cell phones, computers and video game systems.

However, now that access to cell phones and other electronics is widespread, there are fears of a new divide: Poorer kids are wasting more time on their assorted electronic and computer gadgets than more affluent peers.

“Despite the educational potential of computers, the reality is that their use for education or meaningful content creation is minuscule compared to their use for pure entertainment,” said Vicky Rideout, author of a decade-long Kaiser study on online patterns, in a New York Times story on the issue. “Instead of closing the achievement gap, they’re widening the time-wasting gap.”

Closing the digital divide is not improving …

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Gainesville City Schools benefits from lessons from Hurricane Katrina

Gainesville superintendent Merrianne Dyer

Gainesville superintendent Merrianne Dyer

Merrianne Dyer, superintendent of Gainesville City Schools, has been telling me about a successful wrap-around program to help at-risk students.  Dr. Dyer felt that the program was worth sharing with other districts in Georgia. (I am hoping to get more educators on the blog talking about what works, per the many requests from readers.)

I asked her to tell us what Gainesville is doing. Here is her detailed account.

By Dr. Merrianne Dyer

Gainesville City Schools found our best school improvement initiative in the wake of a hurricane.

In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina left the Gulf Coast devastated. In the hard days that followed, schools were challenged to re-open buildings and focus traumatized children on learning. Rhonda Waltman, an assistant superintendent for student support in Mobile, AL, asked, “How can we get these children around the barriers that this disaster created and get them back to school?”

She found her answer …

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Are introverted children hurt by classroom focus on participation and group activities?

Education Week has a fascinating story on introverted students and whether today’s classrooms are hospitable to such quiet, reflective children.

One comment struck me in the piece: “The kids who are bouncing around the room and punching people in the face need to be addressed right away. In a classroom of limited resources, that’s where the resources go,” Mr. Coplan said, adding that the quiet students often get ignored.

It made me recall a former co-worker who had her baby in a child care center with video cameras so she could log on from work and watch her baby. What she saw was that her baby was quiet and contented and, as a result, ignored for most of the day. The child care staff picked up and coddled the babies who cried or fussed. My colleague realized that her very quiet baby was not commanding any attention in large child care center and ended up hiring a home sitter instead.

Her quiet baby girl grew up into a quiet child, and my colleague would tell me that her …

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Music video puts the beat down on school bullying

Several folks sent me emails about this wonderful anti-bullying video by Cypress Ranch High School in Texas, an entry in the No Bull Teen Video awards. The video is all the more remarkable because the song was written by a 15-year-old at the Houston high school.

Enjoy.

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Roommate in Rutgers spying/suicide case gets 30 days in jail. Is that fair?

Too little time or too much?

A judge today sentenced former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi to 30 days in jail and 300 hours of community service for using a video camera to spy on his gay roommate, Tyler Clementi, during a romantic encounter in the dorm. Clementi later jumped from a bridge to his death.

The sentence didn’t satisfy either side. Ravi’s attorneys argued that he shouldn’t spend any time in jail, while prosecutors pushed for a much longer sentence for the charges, including invasion of privacy, witness tampering, tampering of evidence and a hate crime based on bias intimidation.

Telling the crowded courtroom that Ravi had no prior record, Judge Glenn Berman said, “I do not believe he hated Tyler Clementi … but I do believe he acted out of colossal insensitivity.”

This tragic case mobilized people all over the country to address the frequent bullying of gay teens.

According to the LA Times:

Judge Glenn Berman addressed Ravi before announcing his …

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Judge shows more mercy toward accused East Paulding High vandal than school board

A judge has granted an injunction allowing Jake Zimmerman, one of the East Paulding students arrested for a senior prank that escalated to costly vandalism, to attend his graduation ceremony. The judge overruled the school board, which voted last month to bar the student from attending.

Class president, Zimmerman admitted painting a skull and crossbones on the road outside the school, saying it was an annual tradition for seniors. But he said he left the scene before fellow pranksters moved to the school and painted vehicles and buildings, causing $7,500 in damage.

The school system suspended him for the duration of his high school career, banishing him to an alternative school. Unlike most of the teens, he appealed the decision, but the school board denied his appeal last month. Then, a school board member made a motion to heap on more punishment: prohibiting Zimmerman from attending his graduation ceremony. The teen said Wednesday that the board voted 6-1 in favor of …

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IMO: Kids say the darndest things even in the yearbook

OMG. A north Fulton elementary school asked students to sign pledges that they wouldn’t use acronyms or draw pictures while signing their classmates’ yearbooks.

Citing this young generation’s affinity for the acronym, the AJC asked,  “No more LOL? Seriously?”

As a parent, I have no problem with the pledge that Birmingham Falls Elementary School asked fifth graders to sign before being given their yearbooks in an effort to foster civility.

The pledge may have been overkill, but I have been a yearbook editor and an adviser and can vouch that kids write questionable comments, both in written comments to their pals and in the permanent text.

As an editor, I had to watch carefully for double entendres in the captions and student legacies.  Students will be looking at these yearbooks 20 years from now with their kids.

I don’t think reminding kids to be polite and positive in their yearbook salutations is a bad thing. While parents contend that kids should be able to write what …

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Playoff vs. prom: Still think Gwinnett and Cobb could have worked this out. Now, they have.

UPDATE at noon: From Jay Dillon, Cobb spokesman: “I just got off the phone with Harrison Principal Donnie Griggers. He told me that the Roswell High School girls lacrosse coach has agreed to move back the start time of their playoff game against Harrison, allowing the girls championship soccer game between Mill Creek and Harrison to start at 1:00 p.m. The lacrosse game will now start at 3:00-3:30, or as soon as possible following the soccer game. Some of the Roswell lacrosse players have graduation parties to attend Saturday night as well, but they should be able to make it work out. A big thank you to Roswell lacrosse coach Sue Scheer for being accommodating so the soccer game could be moved and the Mill Creek students can attend their prom, and also to Mr. Griggers and Harrison soccer coach Steve Riccard for working so hard to find a resolution.

Hard to believe there wasn’t a solution to this problem: The girls soccer teams from Cobb’s Harrison High School and …

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Plotting an escape from the homework trap

I am always surprised when parents tell me their kids have three to four hours of homework a night given the lack of evidence that homework enhances student achievement

Here is a piece about homework from Kenneth Goldberg,  a clinical psychologist and author of “The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Students and Teachers.”

By Kenneth Goldberg

As the world engages in a global homework debate, there are many parents whose major concern is not public policy, but what will happen at home tonight. They are not Tiger Moms, but ordinary parents who simply want the best for their children. These parents start out with the full intention of supporting the teachers and their children’s schools. Yet, something goes wrong along the way as they and their children fall into a homework trap.

The problem starts in elementary school. The notes come home, and the parents get “the call.” They meet with the teacher and make plans to make sure everyone is on the same page. …

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FAMU hazing death of DeKalb grad: 13 people charged

In a family photo, Robert Champion demonstrates the flair that earned him the prestigious drum major role in the FAMU band.

In a family photo, Robert Champion demonstrates the flair that earned him the prestigious drum major role in the famous FAMU band.

The AJC is reporting that 13 people have been charged in the death of Robert Champion, a Florida A&M University drum major from DeKalb.

The beating death of the Southwest DeKalb High grad in November brought attention to the dangerous culture of hazing on campuses, but particularly in the famed Marching 100 of FAMU.

When Champion was killed, I spoke to Hank Nuwer, the author of four books on hazing. Among his books are “Wrongs of Passage: Fraternities, Sororities, Hazing, and Binge Drinking” and “Broken Pledges: the Deadly Rite of Hazing.”

A journalism professor at Franklin College in Indiana, Nuwer explained in a telephone interview why college students and band members endure hazing that turns vicious and sometimes deadly. “We cannot get enough of wanting to be wanted. Students think that joining this fraternity or this band constitutes …

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