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Teacher- Student Texting: Growing Trend, Growing Concern

Texting is often the communication method of choice for teens when communicating with peers and adults alike. But what about texting between teachers and students? In a recent article on the topic, Laura Zieger of the Department of Education Technology at New Jersey City University suggests schools should exercise caution about letting educators text with students, but should not prohibit the practice. Meghan DeCarlo, a high-school teacher and track coach who texts with student athletes, suggests the texts be for information purposes and always sent to a group. Is there a policy at your school for texting between teachers and students? Should there be?

Home-School Communication – The Digital Route

According to a 2016 report, there’s been a steep drop in the number of parents who believe that more intimate forms of communication—face-to-face meetings with teachers, for example—are the most effective means to convey important information about students. The study in fact found a growing acceptance of digital methods. Enter simple communication apps like ClassDojo, Spotlight, Remind, and Seesaw that allow teachers to send mobile texts, video summaries, and other alerts to parents about important school activities or their child’s recent academic or behavioral progress.

Taken together, these new ways to communicate are giving parents a deeper look into their childrens' performance and experience in the classroom, while forging tighter relationships between schools and families. Educational apps have even played a vital role in updating parents about snow days and disasters, while advanced features translate report cards into languages from Arabic to Vietnamese. Is your school using one of these apps? What has been your experience?

Should Schools Sell Ad Space in Emails?

Response has been mixed to a Florida school district's plan to sell ad space in emails that go to students, parents and teachers. The school board approved the program, aimed at raising funds for student travel, but some teachers were not happy to learn that school emails would be used for solicitation purposes. How would you feel if your district instituted such a policy?

STOPit App Fights Cyberbullying

While schools shouldn't rely solely on an app to fight cyberbullying and create a positive, supportive culture among their students, the STOPit app is a new tool being used by some districts this fall. A simple design and setup make it easy to get help quickly, especially for cyberbullying issues. On the app, students can anonymously report any bullying, self-harm, or violence concerns. A school administrator on the receiving end can then respond to address the issue. As some administrators point out, kids are often more comfortable reporting issues using technology rather than face-to-face.

The Myth of Multitasking

Ask any kid while they are using their cell phone if they are listening to you, chances are they will reply in the affirmative even though they will have trouble recounting what has been said. That’s what Arnold Glass, a psychology professor at Rutgers University at New Brunswick thought, but his students told him that using various digital devices in his class had no negative effect on their performance, so he decided to test it out. His study shows that digital multitasking can adversely affect students' long-term retention of material, a study you might want to tell your kids about.

Wear this Device or Face a Fine

Here is one sure to get a conversation started with your kids. Students at a private school in France are being asked to wear Bluetooth-enabled tracking devices that will allow teachers to instantly take attendance and find students if they are not in class. Students who do not wear the device or forget it at home could be subject to a fine.

Useful Apps for the Classroom (and Home)

Are you interested in finding some good educational apps for your children?  The National Public Radio site recently offered an article titled iTeach: A Guide To The Most Useful Apps for Classroom that offers an array of highly reviewed apps for classroom and learning use. The list includes a variety of tools for the classroom, such as Kahoot! a quiz game creator app, and Seesaw, a digital journal creator, and highlights what experts think are the best apps for using at home, for home-school communication, or to suggest at your school.

Setting a Cell Phone Policy – Schools and Classrooms

With kids getting cell phones at younger and younger ages (10 is now the average), schools are struggling to catch up on establishing proactive policies about when and how the devices can be used. If your school is working on these policies, or if you are interested in how teachers are handling the situation in other schools, check out 3 Tips for Managing Phone Use in Class. While this article is written for teachers, parents may also find it useful in setting up a policy for home, using the questions posed for starting a dialogue about cell phone use.

15 Great Apps for Kids

Looking for some new learning apps that will engage your children? Take a look at this list from eSchool News that provides suggestions for kids in Kindergarten through grade 12. Some examples include SPRK Lightning Lab - an introduction to coding and robotics, and Comic Life, an app that creates comic strips from your images. Coach’s Eye is a great tool for young athletes that provides instant video feedback, allowing kids to capture and review their strengths, as well as see areas for improvement, while engaging in their favorite sports. They can then share their video with friends and teammates.

What’s My School’s Policy on That Social Media Site?

Do you know what the policies are at your child’s school for visiting sites like Blogger, Facebook, Google +, Skype and Twitter? In Indiana, the Department of Education has complied a map that includes every school district in the state with information about their technology plans and social media policies. It is a good resource for parents to learn about the policies that are in place and the kind of technology that is being offered to students, including guidelines on filters, access at home and the use of social media sites. Even if you don’t live in Indiana, it can be informative to get a glimpse of how other districts handle technology use and what they do when social media influenced issues arise.

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