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Using Text Messages to Improve Parent-Teacher Communication

December 02, 2015
Too often, parent-teacher communication begins by assuming the worst. One high school English teacher said that he tends to “shift into ‘defensive’ mode” when he gets an email from a parent. Parents, too, often figure that no news is good news. If they do hear from a teacher, the first thought is usually “Uh oh, what did my kid do this time?” It’s challenging for busy parents and teachers to communicate on a regular basis, and too often they only hear from each other when something has gone wrong. But stronger parent-teacher communication can make a real difference for students - and there’s...

Humble Media Genius, Keeping Kids Safe

November 24, 2015
If you saw my earlier Smarter Schools post you’ll maybe recall that I’m a writer and producer at WGBH in Boston. We have a new project for kids to help them navigate their always-connected world. You can find some background here or the actual project here, in the shape of an animated dog, Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius. My current focus has been around safety and privacy. As part of our production pipeline, this is the topic we have been trying to address in a new animation. We’ve also been exploring Search, Texting, Screen Time, Photography and even Distracted Driving. We turned to...

Moving Out of the Shallow End

November 20, 2015
Our school started a 1:1 iPad program last year, and one of our main goals has been to take things slow. We wanted our teachers to be comfortable in the “shallow end” of teaching with technology before they moved out into the deep. Ironically, in addition to being the tech director for our school, I have been a Swim Coach for 20+ years, so this is probably the easiest analogy I could ever come up with. The first step into the pool is to use technology as a simple substitute for things you already do in the classroom. Think about using a note-taking app instead of pencil and paper, for...

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