Award Winning

Last week I was notified by the South Carolina Association For Educational Technology (SCAET) that my experimental class, Web Media Productions, won a Technology Innovative Program Award in the Middle School Category. I will have the honor of accepting this award for H.E. McCracken Middle School at the awards luncheon at SC EdTech on November 7th.

Although I applied for the award, I am still surprised when I got the notification we won because the impact was on the total student body was small. However, the lesson was not just for students. One course goal was to prove two things to teachers . First, web applications can be used in any subject. Students created projects using a variety of applications in Math, Reading, English, and Social Studies. These projects were shared with students' respective teachers. The second goal was for teachers to see these projects could be achieved in a timely manner without the use of a computer lab. Students worked on computers in other teachers' rooms. I wanted to prove technology-based projects could be done with some planning, recoginzing resources, and teamwork.

At first I thought my ideas did not take. Adminstration opted to create a much bigger web media class. However, a few teachers approached me about using web applications such as blogging and podcasting. Computer lab time will again be at a premium this year but hopefully teachers will be creative in using "out-of-the-box" ideas in doing technology-based projects. Maybe this award is deserved after all. Yeah Me!

Do your homework or your grounded Mom!

Every once in a while I threaten to write my Congressman suggesting the need for a Parent Accountability Act that would help give NCLB more teeth in helping schools meet Federal objectives. Basically, this law would help schools force parents to become more involved in their child's education, and hopefully produce better students. Of course that would never sit well with voters so it must remain a fantasy.

However, a New Jersey English teacher has come up with an interesting way to motivate parents into getting more involved with their child's education: he assigns parents mandatory homework. According to The New York Times, Damion Frye, an English teacher at Montclair High School, assigns parents the same reading list he gives his students and asks parents to write responses on a blog he setup. Students whose parents don't do their homework could have points taken off their grade. The idea is for parents to share in what is going on in class.

Some parents like the dialog it has created with their children and participate enthusiastically. Other parents don't like the idea of having homework but do it anyway or have creative excuses for not getting it done. Of course there are some parents who refuse to do the homework at all (I wonder what their child's grades, especially homework, are like). Only one child in three years has been docked points for parents not doing an assignment. This is because the parent did not communicate at all with Mr. Frye but it did not affect the student's overall grade.

Is Mr. Frye on the right track? How much would you like to see parents become involved in class?