June 20th, 2012
02:20 PM ET

'Share my lesson' aims to connect educators

by Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) On Tuesday, the American Federation of Teachers and TES Connect announced the launch of a free, resource sharing network for teachers.

Called “Share My Lesson,” the site aims to become the largest online community for teacher collaboration.

“Teachers are expected to do so much, often with very little support, and they are thirsty for the tools they need to improve instruction. The AFT decided to accept the challenge and make its biggest investment ever in a tool to improve the teaching profession,” AFT president Randi Weingarten said in a statement.

When asked about the $10 million price tag for the initiative, TSL Education CEO Louise Rogers told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, “The money we’re putting in is about driving both the technology and insuring that the content is absolutely what the teachers need every single day to make their lessons the best they can be.” TSL Education is the parent company of TES Connect.

“We’ve teamed up to try to make this an American product for American teachers so they can share with each other online resources…and to make sure that they can be prepared for the Common Core, this new academic standard for the 21st century,” Weingarten told Soledad O’Brien on Starting Point.

The “Share My Lesson” platform has been likened to a “digital filing cabinet” where teachers can share lesson plans, save the ones they like, and peer-review each other’s content.

“It’s about teachers teaching each other to be very, very good at what they do, and they get that by interacting with each other,” Rogers told CNN. “The teachers themselves are teaching and learning from each other.”

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My view: Why not let kids have Facebook pages?
Facebook might change its policy and allow preteens to have their own Facebook pages -- 7.5 million already do.
June 7th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

My view: Why not let kids have Facebook pages?

Laura Sessions SteppEditor's note: Laura Sessions Stepp is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, formerly with The Washington Post, who specializes in the coverage of young people. She has written two books: "Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both" and "Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children through Early Adolescence." She is a consultant to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Read another view from writer Heather Chapman, "My View: My kids won't be on Facebook any time soon."

By Laura Sessions Stepp, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Will elementary and middle school students soon be able to put up their own Facebook pages? It looks like it.

According to news accounts, Facebook is considering doing away with its rule that no one under age 13 may have a Facebook page. Cranky math instructors and tyrannical P.E. coaches must be at least a tad nervous at the thought of what the little darlings might post about them. But the change could be a good thing if it encourages a reasonable amount of parent involvement.

The things the rest of us do on Facebook - reveal what we had for lunch, post way too many photos of our kids and pets, comment on what Queen Elizabeth wore for her 60th anniversary jubilee - are considered too dangerous for 10-, 11-, or 12-year-olds to do, even if their "public" consists only of people they've invited to be their friends.

One result is that millions of pre-teens - 7.5 million, according to a Consumer Reports account last year - have established profiles on Facebook, some using fictitious names. Five million of them are younger than 10. What's most disturbing is that in many cases, parents have helped their kids circumvent the rules. What, pray tell, does that teach their children?

Poll: Should kids younger than 13 be allowed on Facebook?

The parameters of the policy under consideration at Facebook are undetermined but would work something like PG-13 movies. One idea is that the child's page would be linked through the parent's page - a sidecar, if you will. Savvy parents would give their children as much privacy as possible even if wincing sometimes at what they saw. But they'd also have the opportunity to step in if they noticed something that was hurtful, dangerous or inappropriate.

Despite what some adults might think or read, teens, at least by their own account, are pretty responsible when it comes to social networking.

Read Laura Sessions Stepp's full column

June 6th, 2012
05:00 AM ET

My View: My kids won't be on Facebook any time soon

Courtesy Heather ChapmanEditor's note: Heather Chapman is a mother of two and former newspaper and radio journalist who blogs at www.themothertongue.blog.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @mother_tongue.

By Heather Chapman, Special to CNN

(CNN) - In a move that has disaster written all over it, Facebook is exploring the idea of allowing children under the age of 13 to have accounts, The Wall Street Journal reported this week. It seems no coincidence that they're trying to drum up new users right after a disappointing IPO, and the fact that those users are children is a bonus. Youngsters are more likely to be early adopters of new social media sites, so familiarizing them with Facebook good and early is a master marketing coup.

Of course, many kids are already on Facebook - some 7.5 million tweens, according to a 2011 Consumer Reports survey  - so this move is also an attempt to placate worried parents with stepped-up safety features and parent-linked accounts.

I appreciate that, but I still don't want my kids on Facebook yet. My 8-year-old son has begged for an account so he can play Farmville and write messages to friends, but I've remained steadfast: No Facebook till he's 13 and trustworthy.

Facebook can be a great way to connect with friends and far-flung relatives, but for now, he'll just have to visit or pick up the phone. It'll be good for him to practice interpersonal skills like observing body language and taking turns in conversation. And I would way rather he play games at the playground instead of sitting in front of Bejeweled Blitz all day while his muscles wither away.

Speaking of playgrounds: Facebook is mine. I connect with adult friends on there, and sometimes we say things that aren't appropriate for kids. I don't want my son to see my name tagged in a picture that says “It's wine o' clock somewhere!” and I wonder how much of a barrier I could put between my account and his if they're linked.

I'm also concerned that cyberbullying will become a bigger problem than it already is. Bullying peaks in late elementary and early middle school, and I have no doubt that inventive tweens will find ways to get around parent controls to talk smack about each other online. Supposedly, the parent-linked accounts will prevent that, but I'm betting that the kids most likely to bully are going to be the very ones who lack appropriate supervision.


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Filed under: Technology • Voices
June 5th, 2012
01:02 PM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today:

Bennington Banner: Vermont drops waiver request for No Child
Vermont's Board of Education voted unanimously to stop pursuing a waiver from No Child Left Behind provisions. The U.S. Department of Education said that Vermont's proposed accountability system lacked detail and wouldn't ensure student success, while Vermont says it was trying to create a system that relied less on standardized testing and negative consequences against educators and schools.

Miami Herald: Students at Miami Dade College’s InterAmerican campus received funds to help undocumented high school students go to college.
Students from a Miami college won $5,000 to start a social media and community project that will outline higher education options for immigrant students, including undocumented ones.

StLToday: Imagine schools mark graduations, closings
In what could be the largest charter school shutdown in the country, Missouri's Board of Education voted to close Imagine's six St. Louis schools. Many of the roughly 3,800 students, who finished the school year last week, don't know what school they will attend come August.

Cleveland.com: Public colleges in Ohio asked to go totally smoke-frees
A member of the Ohio Board of Regents says that he will introduce a measure asking the state's public colleges to ban smoking tobacco on their campuses. State law already prohibits smoking in public buildings.  Currently students can smoke on college greens and other outdoor locations.

Sun Sentinel: Mandated Holocaust education depends on donors to survive
Florida was the first state to mandate Holocaust education in its public schools. A film crew documented the 1994 law's inception and current implementation and found that state budget cuts are forcing some districts to look to outside sources of funding to train teachers on the curriculum.

Poll: Should kids younger than 13 be allowed to use Facebook?
Facebook is considering ways to give kids younger than 13 access to the social-networking site, according to a news report.
June 4th, 2012
11:52 AM ET

Poll: Should kids younger than 13 be allowed to use Facebook?

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - Should young children be able to use Facebook?

And if so, under what conditions?

Those are the questions bloggers and Twitter users are batting around the Internet on Monday following a news report saying Facebook is looking into ways it could let kids under the age of 13 use the site with parental consent.

Currently, Facebook bans children younger than 13.

Data from Microsoft Research and Consumer Reports, however, show that many kids use the site anyway, often with their parents' knowledge. A 2011 Consumer Reports survey found 7.5 million people younger than 13 use the site; nearly a third of 11-year-olds and more than half of 12-year-olds use Facebook with their parents' knowledge, according to a 1,007-person survey supported by Microsoft Research.

My view: My kids won't be on Facebook any time soon

Proponents of lifting Facebook's under-13 ban say letting young kids on Facebook with the help of adults would allow them to use the social network more safely.

"Whether we like it or not, millions of children are using Facebook, and since there doesn't seem to be a universally effective way to get them off the service, the best and safest strategy would be to provide younger children with a safe, secure and private experience that allows them to interact with verified friends and family members without having to lie about their age," Larry Magid writes at Forbes.com.

Read the full story

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Filed under: Issues • Parents • Technology
May 31st, 2012
03:16 PM ET

Sal Khan: Revolutionizing web education

Khan Academy founder Sal Kahn previews his All Things Digital appearance and talks about the success of his site.

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Filed under: At Home • Practice • Resources • Technology • video
May 31st, 2012
12:10 PM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today:

Salon.com: Cheating runs rampant
Daniel Denvir says than emphasis on high stakes testing at the federal and state levels has led to rampant cheating among U.S. school districts. His article also says that subjects outside of reading and math have been hurt as well, including science, physical education and the arts.

Education Week: NCATE Accredits First 'Nontraditional' Program
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education has accredited iTeachU.S., which can now recommend teachers for licensure in the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Tennessee. The online provider is the first non-higher-education-based teacher preparation program accredited by NCATE.

Washington Post:College dropouts have debt but no degree
The percentage of college dropouts who have students loans has risen over the past decade. Public policy has pushed more students towards college, and some education experts say that more needs to be done to help students reach graduation.

ED.gov: Student Voices of Military-Connected Children Inspire Guidance from Secretary Duncan
After meeting with children of members of the U.S. military, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote a letter asking school districts to consider the needs of military children. The students told Secretary Duncan of the hardships they face when transitioning to new schools and difficulties in connecting deployed family members with school activities.

MySanAntonio.com: Vaccine adds to cost of college
Vaccination against meningitis is now mandatory for most students at Texas colleges. At around $140 per shot, the vaccine against the rare but potentially fatal infection could cost as much as one or two textbooks.

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Filed under: Curriculum • Economy • Policy • Practice • Technology • Testing • Today's Reading List
Texas school district to track kids with chips
A Texas school district will distribute ID cards enabled with radio frequency identification (RFID) chips to its students.
May 30th, 2012
04:02 PM ET

Texas school district to track kids with chips

Does tracking school children with computer chips make them more safe - or more vulnerable?

A San Antonio school district has sided with the former, though not without some debate. The end result is that Northside Independent School District will begin the 2012 school year by distributing ID cards enabled with radio frequency identification (RFID) chips throughout three schools and to 6,290 of its students.

The main idea here is to be able to determine where any given student is at any time during the school day. That's the main idea. The other part of this is that it could help the school district net hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of additional dollars. But more on that in a moment.

The chips will be able to detect when a student boards a school bus and where in the school they are located, though it won't work outside of school grounds.

"Parents expect that we always know where their children are, and this technology will help us do that," said district spokesman Pascual Gonzalez. "This way we can see if a student is at the nurse's office or elsewhere on campus." The San Antonio Express-News reports that Gonzalez also said the only people who can access the tracking data will be school administrators.

The ACLU, though, has previously voiced strong objections to chipping students, pointing out that these "insecure" card readers have been copied "with a handheld device the size of a standard cell phone that was built using spare parts costing $20." Equipped with one, they argue, it would be simple for someone to track a student. The group says an even larger concern is that chips could also be copied, allowing would-be kidnappers to take a child off campus while the duplicate chip continues to tell RFID readers that the child is safely at school."

Read the full story on HLNtv.com

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Filed under: Policy • Technology
May 24th, 2012
04:10 PM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today:

Arizona Daily Star: Students who didn't pass AIMS can't walk in Tucson Unified graduations
Roughly 100 Tucson seniors will not be allowed to walk in graduation ceremonies after they failed part of a state-mandated test. Some parents argue that the students didn't receive enough preparation for the test or the time to remedy the situation.

The Atlantic: Do Cell Phones Belong in the Classroom?
In many American high schools, teachers and students are at odds over cell phone use. While some teachers consider the devices distractions, others say educators should learn to incorporate cell phones into their lesson plans. Robert Earl argues that whatever philosophy is applied, students have to learn to love learning.

Edutopia.org: The Homework Trap
Clinical psychologist Dr. Kenneth Goldberg has a list of suggestions about how parents should approach the issue of homework with their kids.

Connected Principals: Lessons Learned
A veteran teacher shares 13 lessons learned during a 13-year career in the classroom.

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May 23rd, 2012
06:21 PM ET

Girl grew from online punishment, mom says

When ReShonda Tate Billingsley let her daughter open an Instagram account, the Houston novelist made clear to her what would be appropriate to post to the picture-sharing site.

So the mother wasn’t impressed when she saw a couple of weeks ago that the 12-year-old took a picture of herself with unopened alcohol bottle from her father’s bar and posted it with the caption, “Wish I could drink this vodka.”

Billingsley decided the online faux pas should also be punished online.

She not only temporarily banned her daughter from Instagram, the mom took a picture of her daughter holding a sign announcing her punishment (but not showing most of her face). She posted it to her daughter’s Instagram account to chastise her and to the mother’s own public Facebook page, hoping to persuade other parents to monitor their kids’ online activity.

“Since I want to post photos of me holding liquor, I am obviously not ready for social media and will be taking a hiatus until I learn what I should and should not post. Bye-bye,” the sign read.

Within hours, more than 10,000 people shared Billingsley’s Facebook post, and hundreds of others shared it on Twitter. She says she didn’t expect so much attention, but she thinks it’s made the lesson more effective.

“She saw how this picture has gone viral, but … now she sees that if it had been the picture of vodka that went viral, it could have ruined her life,” Billingsley said Tuesday. “It’s vodka today, but it could be underwear five years from now if this isn’t nipped in the bud (and she doesn’t learn) the consequences of posting on social media.”

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