Tech’s Brain-Flattening Effects: A Screen Shot

December 6th, 2018

Carol-Josel-appleAttention all tech users, especially parents and teachers:

In a recent Education Week piece, “Digital Technology Is Gambling with Children’s Minds,” author and Stanford University professor and researcher Elias Aboujaoude reports that, because of new technologies, “Writing, reading, focusing, and remembering have all been transformed, dictating new realities in the classroom and beyond.”

Among the findings:

  1. According to the Pew Research Center, even back in 2012, 14- to 17-year-olds were sending a median—the middle number in a set of sorted numbers—of 100 texts per day. Says Aboujaoude, “Much of the communications are in a language that bears little resemblance to the one they are being taught in school. This comes at a cost…”
  2. Reading, too, is affected. University College London research “suggests that online readers scan, flick, and power-browse their way through digital content, consequently looking for distractions in the form of other online material they could be reading.”
  3. Attention, too, is being compromised. Finds the CDC: The number of children and adolescents ever diagnosed with ADHD increased from 4.4 million in 2013 to 6.1 million in 2016. Meanwhile, the use of drugs such as Ritalin and Concerta rose by 27% from 2004 to 2014.
  4. And when it comes to memory, Aboujaoude writes, “Traditionally, education involved storing information into students’ heads. The search engine has made it so that learning is increasingly about mastering how to navigate databases. If, in this new paradigm, downloading has replaced retrieving information from a student’s internal library, what does it purport for digital natives’ memory neurons?”

His conclusion: “… Many potential consumers of this immense body of knowledge may be too distracted to truly benefit it. If they lose the taste for words, develop an allergy to grammar, compress their attention spans, and become impatient with the time and space it takes to develop an idea, all the ‘big data’ at their fingertips may prove of limited value, like a wasted resource for a generation that won’t know what to do with it. A frown emoji would seem appropriate here.”

Yes, indeed!! What say you?

Many thanks for your time and support, with hopes that you’ll keep up with me here through my blogs and write to me, too, at carol@schoolwisebooks.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Teaching Has Changed Since 1987

November 29th, 2018

THE EVER-CHANGING TEACHING LIFE

These facts come to us with thanks to Richard Ingersoll, professor of education and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. Having pored through federal teaching data from 1987 to 2016, he recently released his findings based on data from the National Teacher and Principal Survey. Among them:

FACT: 44% of new teachers leave the profession within five years.

FACT: From the 1987-88 school year to that of 2015-16, the student population grew by 24%. During that time, the teaching force, however, increased by 65%, primarily because of more special education, ESL, math, and science courses being offered, along with the need for more elementary enrichment specialists.

FACT:In 2007-08, the most common age of a public school teacher was 55; today, it’s between the mid-30s to mid-40s.

FACT: In 1987-88, the typical public school teacher had 15 years of experience; in 2015-16, the majority were in their first 3 years of teaching.

FACT: In 2015-16, women made up 76% of the teaching force.

FACT: The percentage of nonwhite public school teachers rose from 12.5% back in 1987-88 to 19.9% in 2015-16.
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With my thanks for your continuing support and comments… ~ Carol

Education News-Makers: Education Funding, ESSA, ACT, FB, and More

November 18th, 2018

6 EDUCATION NEWS BITES:

1.     Thanks to the fiscal 2019 federal budget, the U.S. Department of Education will enjoy a $58 1 million increase, thus bringing its 2019 total to about $71.5 billion. At the same time, Head Start, the federal preschool program under the Department of Health & Human Services received $240 million over last year’s allotment, for a total of $10.1 billion.

2.     As for the oft-praised, oft-criticized Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) signed into law by Obama to replace the No Child Left Behind law, state plans for students with disabilities are reportedly missing their mark:

  • 33 states do not separate out the performances of students with disabilities in their school rating systems.
  • Just 18 states have the same long-term academic goals for all students, regardless of ability.
  • Just 10 states describe in detail the interventions designed for students with disabilities.
  • Most states provide “very limited or no discussion” regarding English-language learners with disabilities.

3.     Over a two-year period, more than 175,000—8%–fewer students took the ACT college admissions exam in 2018. The decline is due in part, explains the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, because more students are applying to test-optional colleges which require neither the ACT or SAT exams.

4.     About Facebook’s advance into education via the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative: In Cheshire, Connecticut have traditionally been very pleased with the public education their children receive. Nonetheless, district administrators decided to adopt Zuckerberg’s Summit Learning Program via Chromebooks, aka personalized learning, whereby children’s data would no longer be private. The good news: Parents balked, and the superintendent ended the district’s involvement with the program.

5.     Then there’s Facebook’s new teen drama, SKAM Austin. Writes Benjamin Herold, “…. The show blends earnest storytelling, an innovative new format, and sometimes graphic and sexually explicit dialogue to authentically depict the role of social media in teenagers’ lives.” The example he offers includes teens in a library talking through an online quiz called “Are You Ready to Lose Your Virginity?” There’s also a character putting her first-time sexual encounter online, and on it goes. And yes, it’s all fiction, all made up, and, thus, says Herold, “further blurring the lines between fake and real…”

Gotta ask: Teaching tool or further fake/real line blurring and/or more cause for worry?

Chris Freind Asks: “Where Have All the Leaders Gone?”

November 1st, 2018

A SCHOOL-WISE NEWS FLASH

In his recent, “Where Have All the Leaders Gone?” columnist Chris Freind comments on the Chesapeake, VA city council’s mandate that “anyone over the age of 12 caught trick-or-treating faces fines and jail time.”

Apparently, a city code dictates that those 12 and older out there knocking on doors on Halloween are “guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not more than $100 or by confinement in jail for not more than six months or both.”

Oh, and any “legal revelers” still out there after 8 p.m. face similar penalties.

Is it any wonder, then, that Friend asks, “Has it dawned on anyone in Chesapeake (along with several neighboring towns that have passed similar ordinances) that their police have been demoted to glorified revenue collectors and babysitters?”

He then cites other incidents of misguided actions, such as “Mark Salvas, a Marine veteran who served in the Gulf War and was hired last month as executive director of the Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) Democratic Party. And just like that, he was forced out. Why? Because last year, he posted a photo of himself and his wife with the caption, ‘I stand for the anthem. I kneel for the Cross.’”

Another is the case of Ron Darling, former MLB pitcher and current announcer, who was “chastised on—where else?—social media because he mentioned that the wildness of Yankees’ pitcher Masahiro Tanaka was a ‘chink in the armor.’ Really? Ron Darling, who is partially of Chinese ethnicity, had to apologize for those words, clarifying that he wasn’t, in fact, an over racist?”

There’s lots more where that came from in the column, and, no, he’s not making it up. If only he were…

Click here to read the piece in its entirety and share your thoughts.

 

 

 

Chris Truax on 1st Amendment Rights & Mob Rule

October 23rd, 2018

On a three-lane highway, I’m happiest in the middle one, though on occasion I slide over to the left or right. In politics, too, I hug the center, sometimes siding with liberals, at others with conservatives, but always believing in the Golden Rule and a live-and-let-live philosophy. And so, I don’t understand what’s happened to the America I grew up with where people engaged with each other and agreed to disagree civilly, and sometimes even allowing themselves to be swayed to another’s point of view.

Now sides have been taken with swords drawn, and unlike the good old days, even folks like teachers and professors now voice their political views, as do reporters/journalists, too. It’s not necessarily fake news, but it sure as hell is often bent, as in the case of CNN’s Don Lemon recently. His words are quoted below, offered up by San Diego appellate lawyer Chris Truax, in his USA Today piece, “No Right to Protest Whenever, Wherever,” excerpted below.

It begins, “Don Lemon, host of CNN Tonight, had an on-air meltdown last week that culminated in this: ‘In the Constitution, you can protest whenever and wherever you want. It doesn’t tell you that you can’t do it in a restaurant, that you can’t do it on a football field. It doesn’t tell you that you can’t do it on a cable news show; you can do it wherever you want. To call people mobs because they are exercising their constitutional right is just beyond the pale.”

About that, says Truax, “The First Amendment doesn’t actually give you the right to free speech or the right to protest ‘whenever and wherever you want,’” adding later that, “You have no constitutional right to protest on private property… You have a right to speech free from governmental interference, but you do not have a right to free speech on someone else’s dime…”

He then writes about the “mob” who “ambushed” Senator Ted Cruz in a restaurant shouting, “This is a message to Ted Cruz, Brett Kavanaugh, and the rest of the racist, sexist, transphobic and homophobic right-wing scum. You are not safe. We will find you. We will expose you. We will take from you the peace you have taken from so many others.”

Truax concludes with, “There is much that is broken in our political system. Even so, we cannot restore civility and reason through intimidation and fear. Don Lemon was wrong. Calling out a mob, even if it happened to be exercising a constitutional right, is not beyond the pale. In fact, it’s the right thing—the only thing—to do.

Is he right, or are you with Mr. Lemon?
Read the whole article here.

 

School-Wise News Burst

October 16th, 2018

SCHOOL-WISE NEWS BURST:

Signs of the times…

·      Diana Tirado, an eighth grade teacher at West Gate K-8 School, Port St. Lucie, Florida, learned about the school’s “No Zero Policy” the hard way when she assigned an explorer notebook project. Although she gave students two weeks to complete it, several of them didn’t bother to turn it in. She, in turn, gave each one of them a zero. Of course, right?

Well, not so fast…

According to said policy—included in the student/parent handbook—Mrs. Tirado was required to give each one of those kids a 50%, the lowest possible grade allowed. For handing out zeroes instead, she was fired on September 14.

On her last day, she wrote this on the whiteboard in her classroom: “Bye, kids. Mrs. Tirado loves you and wishes you the best. I have been fired for refusing to give you a 50 percent grade on homework that was not turned in.” Read more.

·      According to “The Opportunity Myth,” we tell kids school matters when it comes to being prepared for college and careers–life. BUT, says the myth, “Far too many students graduate from high school still unprepared for the lives they want to lead.” That translates to remedial colleges courses or lacking needed skills to succeed in the work place. Bottom line: 71% of the time, kids are doing their homework but less than 20% of those assignments meet college-readiness standards. Read more.

Now comes a report by TNTP, an organization that concerns itself with education policies and equity issues. Reported by Linda Jacobson, senior editor for Education Dive: K-12, TNTP followed 250 teachers, watched about 1,000 classrooms, pored through thousands of assignments and work samples, and also surveyed some 4,000 students.

As TNTP CEO Daniel Weisberg put it, “Students actually are the best experts we have on the quality of the education we are providing.”

He reports that the study found that, while students are “working really hard,” many don’t get an opportunity to “succeed at the highest level.”

What should be happening? According to the study’s authors, four components are necessary for students to get the most out of their schooling:

1.      “Consistent opportunities to complete grade-appropriate assignments;

2.      “Strong instruction that puts the responsibilities for most of the thinking on the students;

3.      A feeling of being deeply engaged in the lesson;

4.      And teachers with high expectations.”

TNTP’s conclusion: On average, only 16% of the lessons observed in core subjects met those 4 criteria, “amounting to 29 hours per subject (out of a possible 180) over the course of the school year.”

·      As reported in an Education Week blog by Catherine Gewertz, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is planning to now test kids’ creativity. To do so, it’s invited ACT to come up with said test, having it ready for use by 2021.

What exactly do they have in mind when it comes to assessing creativity? Reportedly, the test will target 1) written expression; 2) visual expression; 3) social problems; and 4) scientific problems.

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SO WHAT’S YOUR TAKE?

  1. The “No Zero” policy: Approve? Disapprove?
  2. “The Opportunity Myth”: Agree? Disagree?
  3. PISA’s decision to test creativity: Good idea? Terrible idea?

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Why Teachers Are Taking to the Streets

October 15th, 2018

Teacher morale has declined dramatically over the past ten years or so, resulting now in educators protesting in the streets, along with widespread teacher shortages, and far fewer college students choosing careers in education.

We start with the good news first, though.

PDK’s most recent poll found that support for teachers is at its highest in 50 years, with 66% of respondents saying teachers are underpaid. Moreover, 73% of them—taxpayers all–said they’d support a work-stoppage if it came to that.

Then there the rest of the story.

There are lots of reasons for teachers to take to the streets, front and center being money. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nationwide, the average public school teacher’s salary stands at $58,000. In Oklahoma, it’s just $42,460, the lowest in the country.

That, according to a new Economic Policy Institute study, translates to teachers earning about about 23% less than other college-educated workers; in other words, approximately $350 less per week.

On top of all that, there’s the quality factor, or, should I say, the perception of it. A recent Gallup Poll found that, while 70% of parents with school-aged children are satisfied with the education their kids are getting, just 43% of Americans in general think that’s the case.

And that, of course, begs the question: How come the difference in views?

In part at least, look no further than politicians affecting how schools work and the media running with the teacher bashing ball…

Bush’s answer to our perceived schooling woes was his bi-partisan No Child Left Behind (NCLB) back in 2002. Along with all students being tested annually in grades 3 through 8, all were expected to be proficient in both math and reading within 12 years. Never happened; couldn’t happen.

That was followed by the lofty-sounding, equally unrealistic (ESSA) Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed into law by Obama in 2015, and still in force today. About that law, the U.S. Department of Education says: “ESSA includes provisions that will help to ensure success for students and schools.”

Among them:

·       It advances equity … for America’s disadvantaged and high-need students.

·       It requires—”for the first time”—all students be taught to high academic standards…

·       It ensures vital information is provided to all stakeholders via “annual statewide assessments that measure students’ progress toward those high standards.”

·       “It helps to support and grow local innovations… consistent with our Investing in Innovation and Promise Neighborhoods”

·       It expands the administration’s investment in high-quality preschool.

·       It requires accountability and action be taken towards positive outcomes in low-performing schools and their historically low graduation rates.

There’s more it, of course, but you get the idea. Meanwhile, the “reforms” keep coming, with tech folks now in on it, too. At the same time, costly charter schools keep gaining ground despite their overall dismal performance.

And now back on the scene comes Obama’s secretary of education for seven years, Arne Duncan, who has written a mostly self-serving book. Entitled How Schools Work: An Inside Account of Failure and Success from One of the Nation’s Longest Serving Secretaries of Education, it opens with the lines, “Education runs on lies. That’s probably not what you’d expect from a former secretary of education, but it’s the truth.”

This from a man who never spent even one day teaching kids in a classroom, yet whose impact on education reverberates to this day. His “fix” started with, but did not end with, his $4.35 billion Race to the Top (RTTT) whereby he bribed states to adopt the poorly-crafted Common Core State Standards and their related online, standardized testing. Scores on those were then tied to teachers’ evaluations, whether they taught the tested math or English/language arts subjects or not.

P.S. Publisher Simon & Schuster describes said book as “an expose of the status quo that helps maintain a broken system at the expense of our kids’ education.”

The no surprise upshot? Demoralized educators holding up picket signs, along with the PDK’s most discouraging finding: “Parents don’t want their children to become teachers.”

Who can blame them?

Indeed, between 2008 and 2016, the number of college students choosing and completing teacher prep programs dropped by 23%, according American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

Plus, 17% of new teachers leave the profession within five years.

The good news, though, for those still in the trenches, Education Week recently confirmed that 101 running for their state legislatures have now moved on to the general election. Says 8th grade teacher Jennifer Samuels, running for Arizona’s House as a Democrat, “If even just a handful of us win a seat [in November], … then teachers will have a voice at the Capitol—and we haven’t had one in so very long.”

And so it goes, with hopes that you’ll make your voice heard, too.

 

America’s Locked-Up Schools

March 12th, 2018

As USA Today‘s Greg Toppo recently noted, most of our public schools are locked up and require a keycard or for visitors to be buzzed in by someone in the main office–but only after they’ve identified themselves and stated their purpose. They may very well be videotaped at some point, too.

As he indicates, at the time of the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1997, just 19% of our public schools even used security cameras; by the 2013-14 school year, 75% did.

Moreover, from 1999 to 2015, 78% of students said their schools’ doors were locked, up from 38% in 1999, while an earlier survey of responding administrators put that number at 93%.

At the same time, according to the Center for Education Statistics, “the number of crimes against students has actually plummeted more than 80% since 1992,” with 3% of them reported feeling “afraid of attack or harm,” vs. 12% in 1995.

Click the link to read Toppo’s full report.

News Worth Noting

March 1st, 2018

This in-like-a-lion and out-like-a-lamb month of March starts off on the 2nd with Read Across America Day, followed happily by Daylight Saving Time on the 12th, St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th, and the Spring Equinox on the 20th.

Meanwhile, however:

  • America reels from the shooting of 17 students and teachers in Florida at the hands of Nikolaus Cruz. In response, the President is calling for the arming of teachers, while the National Youth Day of Action Against Gun Violence is set for April 20.
  • The Supreme Court will be deciding the fate of unions’ “fair share” dues collection from non-members who benefit from their bargaining efforts.
  • Every state is federally mandated to collect and track students’ personal information from birth or preschool onwards. Be advised: These Student Longitudinal Data Systems are easily shared with vendors, government agencies across states, and so on, all without parental knowledge or consent.
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird have been removed from Duluth, MN high schools to protect “the dignity of students” and prevent them from feeling uncomfortable with racial epithets. Duluth is not alone in thinking high schoolers can’t handle such language.
  • Philadelphia is considering establishing set-aside places where users can shoot up in public with no repercussions; drugs will be on hand to counteract overdoses.
  • U.S. life expectancy has slipped yet again thanks to drug and alcohol use. In 1960, we enjoyed the highest life expectancy in the world, we’re now 1.5 years lower than the 35 OECD countries.
  • Scientists have now successfully cloned monkeys, begging the question, “Can humans be far behind?”
  • A proposed California bill would make plastic straws illegal unless requested.

And so it goes; well or not? You decide…

Message This: Social Media Is Toxic for Kids

February 19th, 2018

Cyber Bullying ConceptAccording to Common Sense Media research, teens now spend an average of nine hours a day glued to their devices, with tweens not all that far behind at six. And that doesn’t account for tech’s use in our nation’s classrooms, nor all the computer-required assignments that follow our children home after school.

Billed as a learning tool, many teachers now incorporate the likes of Twitter and video games into their lessons, negatively impacting attentions spans and critical thinking, right there along with spelling and writing skills.

As for the teachers who refuse to jump on the ed tech bandwagon? They’re called “resisters” and are often criticized as being old school and way behind the times.

Fortunately, they are not alone.

Among the concerned is Steve Fischer, eBay’s chief technology officer, who sends his children to a Waldorf School instead of his local tech-heavy public one; so, too, do many Silicon Valley employees.

That’s because founder Rudolf Steiner designed the Waldorf curriculum to focus on the academic, artistic, and practical with an eye toward developing students’ imaginations and getting them ready for the real world–no screens required.

The result for everyone else’s kids, though, is a tech-driven world, both in and out of school.

Indeed, Common Sense Media CEO and founder Jim Stryer calls the amount of media tech in children’s lives “mind-boggling.” As he notes, it dominates their world, and they can’t seem to resist its lure.

One result: Multi-tasking. Now, 50% of teens say they “often” or “sometimes” use social media or watch TV while doing homework; 60% say they text and 75%+ listen to music at the same time.

Pushback is growing, though, with outfits like the Truth About Tech: How Tech Has Kids Hooked.” Sponsored by Common Sense Media, the Center for Humane Technology, and others, it held an event in D.C. earlier this year. Its mission is to expose the techniques used by tech companies to hook our kids and find a way to ensure their digital well-being, as well.

As the Center points out, “Technology is hijacking our minds and society.”

And it’s all been done intentionally.

In fact, Facebook’s founding president, Sean Parker, has admitted that he and other higher-ups came up with “a social validation feedback loop” that makes the social media platform addictive.

At one point, another early FB exec, Chalmath Palihapitiya, accused his company of creating “short-term dopamine-driven feedback loops that are destroying how society works.”

And though he tried to walk back that statement, it still has legs, so to speak.

Even Apple CEO Tim Cook gets it. Though childless himself, not only does he set firm limits on his nephew when it comes to social media, he doesn’t consider it a success if we’re all are using tech all the time.

As it is, 50% of teens feel they are addicted to their mobiles, with 60% of their parents agreeing.

Confided one teen, “I would rather not eat for a week than get my phone taken away. It’s really bad.”

Moreover, Jean Twenge, a San Diego State University psych professor and author of iGen, says that heavy–5+ hours a day–device users are:

  • 56% more likely to say they are unhappy;
  • 27% more likely to be depressed; and
  • 35% more likely to have one risk factor for suicide.

These numbers are substantiated by numerous experts and backed by brain-imaging studies, too.

Nevertheless, Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, author of Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids, notes that none of us wants “some buzz-killing truth-sayers telling us that the emperor has no clothes,” and that the devices we’re so attached to pose a problem, especially for kids’ developing brains.

Regardless of the disturbing evidence, though, Facebook is not stopping, not by a long shot.

Not satisfied with its current 2.13 billion users–supposedly all 13 and older–it’s now aiming lower with Messenger Kids, created with children as young as six in mind.

This video, calling, and messaging app lets kids connect with friends and family via tablet or smartphone, and it boasts that countless parents and children’s advocates had a hand in designing it.

However, many of those contributors received funding from Facebook…

Meanwhile, among Messenger Kids’ boasts: Parents must first approve of all contacts, and it gets kids and parents chatting with each other in “a safe, controlled environment.”

Safer than what, face-to-face conversations?

Countless child development experts and others disapprove.

Organized by the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, a number of them recently sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg urging him to take down Messenger Kids. Citing its potential for harm, they pointed out that young kids aren’t developmentally ready to handle social media, online relationships, or the misunderstandings and conflicts that can arise from them.

Nevertheless, Messenger Kids is still up and running, so…

Bottom line: Keep it personal, not virtual.

Finista: A Secretive Instagram Spinoff Garnering Teen Attention

January 26th, 2018

Fotosearch_Cheating_k19153317As reported by Fiza Pirani of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Finista, the latest social media platform gaining teen attention, is a combo of the words fake and Instagram. As she explains, “It is essentially a fake second Instagram account cultivated for a much smaller, private audience… As opposed to a real Instagram account (Rinsta), it features a much more unfiltered experience.”

And that should be a red flag for parents, for all of us.

More popular with girls than boys, it offers “a safe space from nosy family members, educators, or even future employers.” Like Facebook, many Instagram posts paint rosy versions of users’ lives; that, however, is not the case with Finista. There, posts reflect the real deal but are hidden from adults who can intercede and pull the plug–like parents.

Its allure is that it Read the rest of this entry »

9 Upsetting Education News Items

December 6th, 2017

Charters and private school vouchers continue taking center stage, along with the Common Core and all the ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) state proposals now in the hands of the U.S. Department of Education. At the same time, tech keeps increasing its domination over instruction and our children’s bingeing on social media is, in all-too-many cases, ending in depression and suicide.

And it just keeps going from there:

  1. Taxpayer-funded Brooklyn College says its students “get triggered” by police on campus and wants them to only use distant, poorly maintained bathrooms. Meanwhile, a petition is now calling for the removal of all police from the campus.
  2. The Penn State frat boys who gave a pledge at least 18 drinks in less than 90 minutes and then tried to delete the video evidence. In all, 26 now face charges in Tim Piazza’s death.
  3. At least 45 Harrisburg, Pennsylvania teachers resigned between July and October and more did so since October. The reason: student violence.
  4. Baltimore teachers protested a lack of discipline in some schools, thus putting them in harm’s way.
  5. On state tests, 33% of Baltimore’s high schools had NOT ONE student scoring proficient in math, and 6 had just 1% in that range.
  6. 19 of NYC Mayor DeBlasio’s $582 million Renewal Program’s 28 schools missed their target graduation rates, and saw 6 of them fall.
  7.  Called “digital self-harm,” about 6% of our 12- through 1-year-olds have bullied themselves online; these children are 12 times more likely to have been cyberbullied at some point.
  8.  The U.S. Department of Education is warning parents and teen to carefully consider the data they give to schools, as criminals are threatening to do violence and to do release sensitive school records.
  9. BrainCo has no invented a headset that measures a student’s brain’s activity an transmits the information instantly to the teacher.

And so it goes…

Picting: The New Literacy Amid Declining Writing & Reading Skills

November 16th, 2017

Carol-Josel-appleIn this era of selfies and emojis, it’s no surprise that, in a recent article, veteran elementary/middle school teacher Chrissy Romano-Arrabito says that picting–using images in place of text to convey thoughts and ideas–“is becoming the norm among today’s digital-first students.” And that, she posits, might just be a new literacy

With no mention of the ongoing decline in reading and writing skills, she continues with such facts as:

  1. Snapshot allows its more than 173 million daily users capture video and pictures that vanish in a few seconds.
  2. Social networking Instagram enjoys more than 400 million daily users all  with the ability to share both photos and videos.
  3. YouTube boasts over 5 billion videos.
  4. 75% of tweens & teens engage in social media like those above, Facebook and Twitter, too

Meanwhile, though 90% of classroom time remains text-based, 90% of non-school time is spent with image-based materials via such sites as those above.

The result: The National Center for Education Statistics finds that SAT mean scores in writing dropped from Read the rest of this entry »

The Latest Online Threat: Kids Cyberbullying Themselves

November 14th, 2017

With thanks to USA Today‘s N’dea Yancey-Bragg:

iStock bulliedAs if news about kids’ online activities couldn’t get any worse, it just has…

Indeed, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center, about 6% of our kids, 6 through 17, have actually bullied themselves digitally. Says the organization’s co-director, Sameer Hinduja, “It’s a new phenomenon, and this is definitely happening… We have a tendency to demonize the aggressor, but in some cases, maybe one out of 20, the aggressor and the target are the same.”

And sometimes with lethal effect. In the piece, Yancey-Bragg cites the case of 14-year-old Hannah Smith who ultimately hanged herself. 98% of the messages she received she’d sent herself.

Reportedly, “digital self-harm” is seen three times more often in non-heterosexual teens, with cyberbullying victims 12 times more likely to target themselves.

All this at a time when the CDC says that, in 2015, 36% of all teens felt “desperately sad or hopeless, or thinking about, planning, or attempting suicide, up from 32% in 2009.”

A major reason: the rise of social media.