Friday Round-up

Happy Weekend!

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Texting With Teachers Keeps Students in Class
This article describes Nutana Collegiate Institute in Canada. Here, where temperatures can go as low as 30 degrees below zero, the school experiences high absenteeism. In order to solve this problem the school took a non-conventional route. Starting last year, the school purchased cellphones and data plans from the regional telecom provider for all students in one tenth grade class for a pilot program. Students were able to text their teacher when they would be absent or if they needed help with homework. The teacher was able to text students the days Journal topic before class to help them prepare writing ideas ahead of time. Kids even began to text their teacher about things over the weekend, or when something they had learned in class was featured on the news. The school has seen great success with the program, with 10% higher attendance ratings in the pilot classes, and the students receive 30% more class credits then students in the non-pilot program. The students also enjoy the strong communication relationship they are able to have with their teachers.

SF school sparks online free-speech battle
A high school in the San Francisco Unified School district recently suspended 3 students that created a Tumblr titled “Scumbag Teachers.” Comments that were allegedly linked to the students included: “Teaches Pink Floyd for 3 Weeks; Makes Final Project Due In 3 Days’ and “Nags Student Govt About Being On Task; Lags On Everything.” The principal suspended the students on the grounds that their actions were a form of cyberbulling. After hearing of the suspensions, several civil rights groups voiced concerns that the students right to free speech was being violated. I found this particular situation interesting. I do believe that students have the right to free speech and they should be able to voice concerns and problems they are experiencing with their teachers in a public way, but a demeaning tumblr is not the proper way to voice these opinions. This article reminds us how important it is that we understand how students are using Social Media and we find a productive way to address problems when they come across.

Five Ways to Stop Bullying and Move into Action
Becki Cohn-Vargas, the director of Not In Our School and Not In Our Townwrote this piece to help us understand five ways we can address bullying in our schools and communities. These actions include learning how to recognize and respond to bullying, creating a dialogue for students and teachers, encouraging bystandards to stand up for themselves and others (“upstanders”), and educating the entire community about the actions taking place. Cohn-Vargas finished the article by reminding us how crucial it is that students feel emotionally comfortable and “identity safe” in school.

Restoring Societal Balance Through Education
In American currently the middle class is declining while the lower class increases, yet the upper class grows in wealth. This article discusses how important it is to provide free, equal education for all in order to create a stable economy. It also highlights some enlightening studies that have been conducted over the years in regards to how soci-economics effect schools. What surprised me most was a study conducted by sociologist Jean Anyon in 1980. She studied 5 different elementary schools, all with students from different socio-economic backgrounds. She found that students in schools with a lower socio-economic population were being conditioned to follow rules and respect authority, while students from the “elite” were being trained to question authority and create their own rules.

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