Friday, August 14, 2009

Quick hits

Two quickies before jetting off for a three-day weekend. I know I have been neglecting a few issues here (particularly To Kill a Mockingbird), but time has been tight lately between work and my other blog.

Technology in schools? What a concept.
Nathan Taylor in Orillia had this in today. If memory serves, it's not quite like at Bluewater, if member serves, where the elementary federation complained its members are being asked to learn too much about modern technology like the interweb.
Students can access the Internet -- sometimes -- at their schools, but once they're in, surfing options are few.
"Basically, everything is blocked," said Carol McAulay, the board's superintendent of business and information technology services.
In fact, Internet access isn't allowed during schools days unless it's done under the strict watch of staff.
According to the broader school community, something has to change.
The Catholic board I cover recently did this as well-- installing a firewall that blocked everything, which for a reporter using web-based e-mail to file a story was mildly annoying. At the same time, I get it-- every student would be whiling away life on Facebook, etc. in class if they could. It's just too easy of a temptation

H1N1 prep
Owen Sound had this story about prep for H1N1 in schools this fall-- one of the first stories I've seen dealing with how the provincial and national/international planning impacts locally. Most of the coverage I've seen to date elsewhere centres on the decisions schools will stay open if students develop the flu.
Parents will also be asked to report via an automated phone system if their children’s absence from school is due to flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough or sore throat, gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, or if they are ill for other reasons.
Up until this school year, parents were only asked to note if their child was going to be absent.
“The schools are by far the best barometer we have. When we’re looking for flu season to start it’s the school absenteeism that happens first and that happens before we see emergency room visits increase or we start to see nursing home outbreaks,” said Dr. Hazel Lynn, medical officer of health with the Grey Bruce Health Unit.
They've had 15 reported cases. We've had far fewer in our district, so it will be interesting to see what the strategy is here.


Anonymous said...

Good posts ER - have a great weekend.

We rec'd our Sears Christmas Wishbook yesterday and it doesn't even feel like summer's begun.

Oh, and Zellers has Halloween Candy out already.

Add all of that to the Back To School Shopping blitz and it's enough to drive a parent nuts!

RetDir said...

Enjoy your weekend - the nub of the Simcoe story is that they are actually going to expand access to the internet, which makes a lot more sense. The internet is like any other tool in school - used properly it has a wealth of resources that students should be able to access in order to expand their learning - and some teachers use Facebook very effectively. I saw a demonstration once of a project being done by Grade 4/5 students on school design - they were using a Facebook page to demonstrate their ideas and to get ideas from around the world on what a good school building should include. The strength of Facebook is its community building - humans (and student are humans!) by nature want connections, and it provides them - all you have to do is harness it properly.
And here is a snapshot of an alternative perspective on the use of technology in classrooms:
And of course TED ( is an outstanding example of a great educational resource.
And if Facebook is more interesting than what is going on in class, perhaps what is going on class needs serious re-examination...

Anonymous said...

"if Facebook is more interesting than what is going on in class, perhaps what is going on in class needs serious examination..."

It's deja-vu all over again. I reading this same bumpersticker when Sesame Street first aired because it was providing youngsters with a more and quicker pace engagement into education than teachers could.

Perhaps the entertainment value of education needs a quick study also
as the line between the effective teaching and keeping kids entertained inter-relate more and more.

Some of my best and most respected teachers in school were also the most entertaining...whether they knew it or not.

RetDir said...

I wasn't thinking of entertainment, but engagement - good teachers engage their kids, poor ones disengage them. Engagement happens through careful design of good learning experiences, and might include entertainment as part of the package. Perhaps the difference is merely a pedantic one, but I think not.

Anonymous said...

the term "engagement" is becoming way too over-used IMO.

It's being used so much as to mean nothing at all.

That said I think that engagement and entertainment need to be offered together for effective learnning.

I too remember when teachers felt they couldn't keep pace with the tempo of children's TV shows, and the cry that kids were bored because they were raised on a pablum of Sesame Street, colour, and characters that appealed to them more so than the teacher.

Filling the classroom full of colour, creatures and all sorts of stimulating things came next.

Making learning fun needs to encompass some entertainment to keep a child's interest. That goes as much for parents as it does for teachers.