Question – What do you do when students finish early?

Filed Under (Work) by Laura Smith on 23-02-2009

I teach Computer Lab in a K-8 private school.  Depending on the grade level, my classes run anywhere from 30 minutes (K – 1), to 40 minutes (2-5), to 50 minutes (6-8).  Especially for the older students, I allow them to play appropriate games if they have finished their work.  Part of the problem is that the students often work at vastly different paces, and I can’t have them finish it for homework because most of them don’t have the same programs at home that we do in school, so I need to allow class time for the majority of students to finish in class.  However, the more I read on the subject of computer lab management (which is not that much- it’s surprisingly hard to find!), the more I think I should stop doing this.  I realize that it’s an easy solution.  I already write all my own curriculum, with separate lessons for each grade level, integrated with their classroom studies, and to have to write more enrichment lessons for early finishers would pile on even more work.  Plus, the reward of game time is a pretty powerful motivator!  Even if I did go to enrichment activities for early finishers, it seems unfair to me to give them extra work after they already finished the regular assignment! 

So I need your input… What do you do?

Internet Safety

Filed Under (Work) by Laura Smith on 09-02-2009

I recently read a post by Will Richardson which referenced the 2008 National Cyber Security Alliance’s Baseline Study on Cyber Security, Ethics, and Safety.  I was shocked to find out that less than 25 percent of teachers feel comfortable talking to their students about these types of Internet Safety topics.  Why?  I’m thinking it’s something along the lines of not wanting to have “The Talk” with your kids.  So many parents fear that discussion as well, although again I wonder why.  I think parents and teachers are afraid to broach uncomfortable subjects with kids.  I tend to think that many parents these days try to protect their children from any discomfort, which I think is horribly wrong, but more on that another time.

So I read the full report to find out what teachers are saying about why they feel unprepared to discuss this topic, and basically their responses are either “It’s not my problem, ask the IT guy,” or “I don’t understand this myself, so how can I teach my students?” or “Stop giving me more things to teach my students, I’m already overwhelmed!!!”  (Ummm, those are paraphrased, by the way…)  First, I have to say that I totally understand where they are coming from.  Teaching is an extremely difficult profession, and teachers get nowhere near the respect (and pay!) they deserve!  So now you add Cyber Safety to the mountain of other subjects that teachers have to be trained in, so they can properly educate their students, in addition to all those ridiculous tests (oh, don’t get me started on tests…), and no wonder we are overwhelmed. 

But I think what the teachers who don’t feel comfortable with this topic don’t realize is that Internet Safety is not just something we have to teach our students, it’s something we ALL need to know about.  Just as someone else said, we don’t think twice about teaching our children to look before they cross the street!  The Internet is here to stay.  It is part of our world.  And if you are going to use a computer, then you should know what to look out for, so you can stay safe.  It’s not hard to find the information you need to get informed.  Ask a friend, look up Internet Safety on the Internet(!), invite your IT guy to come explain to the class how he keeps them safe every day (a new superhero!)  We can’t be afraid that we will scare our students, or rub their parents the wrong way by teaching them about the dangers that are out there in Cyberspace.  Wouldn’t we rather be safe than sorry?

Say Yes to Dirt!

Filed Under (Home) by Laura Smith on 04-02-2009

Finally, I have found an article that confirms what I have said all along regarding allergies and diseases: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/health/27brod.html?_r=1&em

We are TOO CLEAN!  All this antibiotic, antiseptic, antibacterial nonsense is doing us more harm than good!  Our bodies NEED to be exposed to viruses, germs, and bacteria so that we can build resistance to them.  But there are so many people out there telling us to wash, wash, wash; boil, avoid, sanitize!  I personally, think it has become a little crazy.

When I was pregnant with my first child, my former boss actually told me to avoid eating peanut butter while pregnant because the baby might become allergic.  Well, guess what I craved?  I couldn’t stomach lunchmeat, so I had a PB&J almost every day for lunch.  My doctor told me that was ridiculous- he said, “You drink water- is the baby going to be allergic to water?”  Yes, a simplistic argument, but he made his point.  Then, after she was born, everyone said, “Make people wash their hands before they touch her!  Don’t let other kids touch her!  Don’t take her out of the house until she’s 6 weeks old!”  RIDICULOUS!  I was encouraged, by all well meaning friends and relatives, to wash her clothes separately in special detergent, and boil her baby bottles, and boil water for her bottles, and boil any toys that fell on the floor, and wipe other toys with sanitizing wipes, and for gosh sake keep her away from other babies and kids.  Meh.  I basically ignored all that.  I used (gasp!) tap water to make her bottles, and let her crawl around on the ground, and took no special measures when it came to cleaning her toys or washing her clothes.  And the same goes for my second child as well.  And you know what?  May God bless them, they are two of the most healthy kids I know.  They both had some mild “allergy-type” issues when they were little- they both had reflux and were on Soy formula for a few months, but they grew out of it.

Now, what would I have done if they had major allergies?  I guess I would have different opinions, but as far as our experience goes, their exposure to everyday germs and possible allergens has made them healthier.  I think we need to rethink as a society our need for “extreme clean.”  I think a little dirt just might make us all a little healthier.

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