Sacred Heart Greenwich Middle School Parent Blog

Duz Txting Hurt Yr Kidz Gramr? Absolutely, a New Study Says

By Sarah D. Sparks on July 27, 2012 9:31 AM
“Wud u lk 2 meet me 4 brgr 2nite?”

If you’ve ever looked at a teenager’s text message and thought it looked more like a kindergartener’s scrawl, you might not be far off.

Middle school students who frequently use “tech-speak”—omitting letters to shorten words and using homophone symbols, such as @ for “at” or 2nite for “tonight”—performed worse on a test of basic grammar, according to a new study in New Media & Society.

Drew P. Cingel, a doctoral candidate in media, technology, and society at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., conducted the experiment when he was an undergraduate with the Media Effects Research Laboratory at Penn State University in University Park, Pa. under director S. Shyam Sundar. The researchers surveyed 228 6th, 7th, and 8th graders in central Pennsylvania on their…

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Game-Based Learning

‘Game-based’ learning

By Jaime Sarrio

Check out the classroom of the future, Bill Gates’ style: Students are grouped according to skill set. One cluster huddles around a computer terminal, playing an educational game or working on a simulator. Another works with a human teacher getting direct instruction, while another gets a digital lesson delivered from their teacher’s avatar.

This kind of “game-based” learning is one of the priorities of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a nonprofit founded by the Microsoft creator.

Last year, the foundation announced it would invest $20 million in a variety of teacher tools, including this and other technologies geared toward changing the way teachers teach and kids learn.

Gates sat down with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week while he was in town speaking at an education conference.

The billionaire philanthropist said there are lessons to be learned from the enthusiasm kids have when playing video games, including that winning can be a motivator and that students should be able to move to the next level when ready.

“We’re not saying the whole curriculum turns into this big game. We’re saying it’s an adjunct to a serious curriculum,” he said.

The introduction of the new Common Core initiative, a set of consistent standards that’s been adopted by Georgia and 44 other states, provides an opportunity to spur the creation of these games. Enter the Gates Foundation.

Two years ago, the nonprofit brought together 20 of the country’s best assessment designers with 20 of the world’s best game designers to discuss creating games that engage kids more deeply, said Vicki Phillips, director of the college ready strategy for the Gates Foundation.

Now the foundation is working with the Center for Game Science at the University of Washington on a free, online game called Refraction. As students play, their progress is visible to the teacher on his or her computer, allowing the educator to see instantly what concepts students understand.

The idea is that in coming years, there could be a digital mall full of low-cost or free online games teachers could download to use with the entire class or individual students.

“Part of what we’re trying to do is make more robust the array of things teachers have access to at their fingertips that are aligned to standards, that are high quality, that engage kids though technology and let [teachers] be the orchestra leader,” Phillips said.

It’s early in the development phase, and the foundation is still trying to figure out how to do this game-based technology well, Gates said.

The foundation will play a role in researching and developing this new technology, work that isn’t likely to be done at the federal or state level.

“It’s definitely going to make a contribution,” Gates said. “Motivation is such a huge part in what ends up differentiating student outcomes. Everyone has the ability to do fantastic work at a high school level. It’s just without the right teacher and the right motivation you don’t always get there.”

The Gates Foundation has given Georgia at least $500,000 to help teachers meet the standards of the Common Core and is continuing its other work, mainly around the construction of a new teacher evaluation system.

The foundation funded technical support for Georgia as it was drafting its Race to the Top application, a key component of which is better measuring of teacher performance.

And it has given $10 million to Atlanta Public Schools to fund the system’s “Effective Teacher in Every Classroom” program, which centers on using academic growth to see how much value a teacher is adding to the classroom.

Gates said states are now doing the “hard work” of implementing new evaluation systems, and in some cases not providing enough resources to ensure they are properly introduced. That includes retaining important elements such as student feedback and peer evaluators.

“We’re trying to encourage the states to put the resources in, even if it is a few percent of the payroll,” he said. “If you’re going to do it, it deserves to be done well.”


Original article

Sacred Heart Greenwich Middle School Parent Blog

To better understand the landscape for families and mobile phones, AT&T commissioned GfK for a national study with 1,000 parents and 500 children ages 8–17.

The study found that:

Kids start receiving mobile phones in grade school

  • Kids receive their first mobile phone, on average, at age 12.1.
  • Of the kids who have a mobile phone, 34% have a smartphone.

Mobile issues are very real for kids

  • More than half (53%) of kids report that they have ridden with someone who was texting and driving.
  • More than 1 in 5 kids (22%) say they’ve been bullied via a text message from another kid.
  • Almost half (46%) of kids ages 11–17 say they have a friend who has received a message or picture that their parents would not have liked because it was too sexual.

Kids are willing to accept rules

  • 90% of kids think it’s OK for parents to set…

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A Letter To Experienced Teachers

Read below for a letter from Peter Gow, an independent school administrator.


Posted: 18 Jul 2012 03:22 PM PDT

Last year about this time I posted “A Letter to New Teachers.” I’m planning to update that soon, but I didn’t want to neglect those of us who have been at it for a while. So here goes:

Dear Experienced Teacher:

We know it’s important to pay attention to and support the men and women joining our faculties for the first time, and we always have lots of good advice for them.

But sometimes we know that the experienced teachers in our midst are overlooked or taken for granted. We casually accept one another’s quiet, competent work and maybe even quiet struggles. It’s easy for school communities to grow almost too comfortable with colleagues whose daily behaviors are familiar and whose work (we assume) goes smoothly and attracts little notice.

Of course it’s not always that way for any of us, veteran or new, and it’s worth reminding ourselves that there are always things we can do to make our work more effective and our lives more satisfying. We have stayed with this profession, sometimes through thick and thin, because we believe in kids and love things about our work—and because we believe in the old promise and old premise that teachers can make the world a better place.

With summer waning and the coming year gradually transforming from an mental abstraction into a concrete set of tasks, challenges, and opportunities, I have been trying to riffle through the pages of my own career and remind myself of things I can do—that we all can do—to make the year go well. Here’s my short list:

  • § Be a “furtherer.” The late, great David Mallery used this term to describe teachers and administrators  who enthusiastically fall into the role of mentors and cheerleaders for others, inspiring and sometimes pushing other teachers forward because they see the potential not only in their students but in their colleagues. Most of us have a furtherer or two or three to thank for the teaching lives we live.

          Also: Be sure to thank your own furtherers!

  • § Lean into discomfort—especially with challenging kids. Live the meaning of this phrase we have heard in workshops for years. It matters a whole lot when we find ourselves dealing with the kid who annoys us, challenges us, disappoints us, puzzles us, or even frightens us. The harder we work to find out what makes such kids tick, the more we try to discover the virtues masked by childish or adolescent behaviors intended to distance us, and the better our chances of helping these kids grow into the best versions of themselves.
  • § Be true to your school—and yourself. I hope that you are content with your school, its culture, its values, and its prospects. I hope that its leaders and their vision excite you, and that the mission of your school aligns elegantly with your personal sense of purpose (and I hope that you have a personal sense of purpose). But there are likely to be areas of non-alignment, and perhaps even friction. This is when you have to find the moral and intellectual generosity to figure out how to bridge those gaps in the name of supporting not just “the school” but your colleagues and above all your students. You don’t have to love every practice and policy, but you have to understand them enough to live with them and, where required, to enforce them. 

Some institutional disagreement is necessary and healthy, and you should never back away from upholding a position you hold dearly. Be forthright, aboveboard, and work within whatever channels exist. If things reach a point where friction generates more heat than light in your life or your community, either 1) find a way to pursue your position more effectively, 2) consider that you might just be wrong or wrongheaded in the context of the school, or 3) understand that it might be time to consider a change of venue for your work. Falling into bitterness, underground politicking, backbiting, and passive-aggressive noncompliance won’t help your students—you know this—and it surely won’t help you. Be true to your school, and know thyself.

  • § Embrace change. It’s upon us from every direction, and chances are that some of your administrators will return from break charged up about some new idea; I hope so. There’s no excuse for a teacher in 2012 to be living totally sheltered from the winds of educational change. Rather than wait anxiously for a buffeting breeze, it would make a great deal more sense to take some time to do your own investigation, by reading books, periodicals, blogs, joining Nings and elists, building PLNS, even by starting a Twitter account and following some of the smart inspirational tweeters out there. Pat Bassett’s May blog had some great suggestions for reading—and connecting.

Sure, not every great new idea is going to pan out as a silver bullet for your students’ learning, but a working teacher who wants to be considered a true professional has no defensible reason for not knowing what big ideas of our time are or for ignoring them. If you hear yourself saying, “But we tried something like that back in 1995 and it didn’t work out,” think about whether it really was “something like that” and why it “didn’t work out.” You’re older and wiser now; maybe you can make it work this time. Don’t hide out behind your anxiety—look around and see what you might do with new, better tools and new, more informed perspectives. It’s for the kids.

  • § Lead up and down. The theme of the Summer 2012 Independent School magazine is “leading from the middle,” and the role of established teacher-leaders and “middle managers” and supervisors like class advisors, department leaders, and curriculum coordinators has never been more important. Use your excitement about new ideas to bring them both to those who serve with you or under your guidance but also to those who manage and lead you. Cultivate a strong, confident voice with which you can make your case for doing things differently, or perhaps even maintaining a truly effective practice. Age and experience give us wisdom, we are told, so seek to establish yourself as someone whose ideas and opinions matter.

For some teachers this doesn’t come easy; we got into this business to work with children and not because we necessarily felt confident or comfortable being a persuasive voice among adults. But times have changed, and gone are the old days when we could escape to our classrooms and create our professional worlds exclusively among kids. Teaching is no longer about each of us, ourselves, alone. 

We need to be faculties characterized by a rich flow and exchange of ideas and opinions—and by mutual respect. We need to be faculties in which castes and layers, based on seniority, who teaches what, who lives in what dorm, or who has whose ear, are gone, gone, gone. In 1968, when I was a senior in high school and Peter Prescott was working on A World of Our Own, faculty room stratification, posturing, and politics hadn’t much changed since Owen Johnson’s Lawrenceville Stories more than a century ago (and at least those were funny). But it’s decades later, and we have to recognize that each of us has something valuable to learn about our craft and our calling from each of our colleagues, no matter how young and how “inexperienced.”

You experienced pros (another David Mallery-ism)—that is, we experienced pros—have to appreciate ourselves fully for what we have to offer, and we have to make a point of offering it. We’re doing good work, and it can be a very good life; happily we share today’s “world of our own” every so much more widely and joyfully than we did 45 years ago. We honor our profession, our schools, and our students by our determination to do our best, and we give full meaning to our lives by our resolution to keep making the kinds of difference that we idealized when came into this profession in the first place. 

Savor the last weeks of summer, and have the best year ever—PG

Innovation Through App Creation

Facebook Wants To Hire This 17-Year-Old But She Hasn’t Decided If She Wants The Job

Owen Thomas|Jun. 25, 2012, 10:38 AM|52,469|39
Nive Jayasekar

Owen Thomas, Business Insider

Nive Jayasekar created a mobile app for Home Depot over a weekend and won $10,500—and got an offer to work at Facebook

She’s only 17.

The Social-Loco conference organized a hackathon event held June 16-17, sponsored by big brands like Home Depot.

Jayasekar entered, drawn by the prizes. She decided to develop a project organizer for the home-improvement chain as a Windows Phone app, because that was a special prize category.

She swept the event with her app, which made it easy for both novices and experienced gardeners to find materials for landscaping projects. (Those were originally separate prize categories; she developed a single app that addressed both audiences.)

But she barely made it to the conference to accept her prizes. After she found out she won, her mom had to drive her to San Francisco.

It was good timing: Because she was late, she got to present her winning app right before Emily White, Facebook’s director of mobile partnerships, was due to speak. They met backstage and White offered her a summer internship.

“Nive is amazing and I’m going to be working for her someday,” White said at the conference.

But here’s the thing, and it tells you everything you need to know about the war for talent in Silicon Valley right now: The recent graduate of Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, Calif., who’s headed to Carnegie Mellon University in the fall, wouldn’t say whether she’d taken Facebook up on the offer.

“The recruiting process is still going on,” she said.

Facebook couldn’t comment on where things stood.

Let’s review: A 17-year-old just got an internship offer from Facebook, on the spot after winning a programming contest. And she hasn’t decided whether she’s taking the job yet.

Meanwhile, she’s porting the app to Apple’s iOS devices and Android smartphones.

Don’t Miss: 9 Impressive College Students Every Company Should Try To Poach >

Here’s a screenshot of the Windows Phone app she developed:

Nive Jayasekar's Home Depot app

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