Category Archives: school

Confiscate or celebrate?

One of the hottest topics among parents this school year: cell phones at school.

But the debate isn’t about phones for teens. The current battlefield is middle and elementary schools.

Some schools ban smartphones. Others allow middle graders to use them during lunch, especially in schools where phones have been incorporated into class instruction.

But whether smartphones are used as a teaching tool or banned as a curse, the debate continues. Stay tuned.


The heart of the year

Teachers call this the “heart of the school year.”

That’s not because Valentine’s Day is approaching, but because new content is being presented to students every day.

Fall is typically the time to review and catch up from content lost during the “summer slump.” The learning curve drops during the final weeks of the school year, after standardized testing. That’s the reason January-February-March are such important months.

For the first time, though, serious questions are being asked about how much screen time students have during the school day in these critical months.

The ed-tech grip has been exceptionally strong all year in schools. How much will result in better academic achievement?

Parent teacher conferences

Parent-teacher conferences have been the standard way to communicate between home and school.

But although apps and new platforms make it easier to connect, I’m concerned that some parents might think the online class newsletters and updates can replace face time with a teacher.

Parent teacher conferences allow more than mere monitoring student progress. Physically being in a child’s classroom, sitting at her desk and talking with other parents while waiting in the hallway add a depth and dimension to understanding a child’s life at school.

Collaboration is in

If your child’s school follows the traditional calendar, it’s almost time for the fall one-on-one meeting.

But don’t be surprised if other parents show up at your scheduled time. Group parent-teacher conferences are trending.

You and other parents will leave the classroom with games and activities designed to reinforce classroom learning. Your child will still bring home the usual report card.

The group conference format is designed to increase collaboration with the classroom teacher and other parents. A bonus benefit is that group meetings reduce the time demand on teachers.

As an educator, I strongly support parent-teacher communication – after all, I even made home visits to my students! – but I’m not convinced group conferences will increase student learning.

Lunch box chips

School started weeks ago in some areas, so trends are already emerging in lunch boxes.

What’s popular?

Chips. But potato chips have gone way beyond crinkle cut and thinly sliced salty crunches.

Even kids are packing bean chips, jicama chips, bean chips and rice chips.

Moms are looking for kid friendly flavors in snackable formats.

Back-to-school sales

I’m waiting to see if the “less is more” trend hits back-to-school sales.

Even with weekly sales, the cost of school supplies has increased so much, sheer economics might compel parents to embrace a minimalist approach to buying for fall.

Lead transparency?

Lead contamination in school drinking water continues to cause headaches for administrators this summer.

Although an increasing number of districts have done lead testing and starting remediation, some parents still aren’t been notified about progress in dealing with the problem.

In some schools, lack of routine testing means lead in water often isn’t discovered, or only discovered by chance.

Where’s the transparency?