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Technology in Education

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Technology in Education
Technology in Education

Technology in Education

Predicted Changes in Curriculum
In the next decade there are a number of changes expected in school curriculum. I believe the majority of these changes will be a reflection of huge growth in the area of technology. Today many school districts have some form of technology in the classrooms, but the use of this technology is expected to become less cumbersome and more widely affordable, thus available to students and staff alike. There has been great progress in bringing hardware, such as computers, monitors, keyboards, etc and various software programs into many schools, yet the lack of instruction on “how-to” use these systems seems to be behind the present trend. As such, it is my belief that the majority of changes in curriculum changes over the next decade will be influenced by teacher and staff comprehension of educational software. In order for this to take place; many districts need to seek out user-friendly software that makes curriculum preparation and design simple. In addition the design of this software should encourage comprehension and ability growth, thus driving the learning, instead of holding it back with complicated, and/or unsatisfactory software design.

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Whether or not we are ready to accept it, a large percentage of our students are not only ready to take on educational technology, but require the use of technology in order to reach their interests and keep them focused. The subject area and age group I can easily identify as being most influenced by the ease of access of technology is the language arts classrooms of both middle and high school aged students. I say this because I believe much of what is learned in the language arts classroom is also used in other subject areas, such as history and science. Consequently student comprehension of the use of technology in language arts will empower students to perform at the same levels in other curricular areas using technology. For example, I recently had my tenth grade English students type an essay using Microsoft Word. The assignment they followed was a Webquest that guided them through a bit of Internet research. At the same time, many of these students were researching and typing up a report, also using Microsoft Word and the Internet, for their Science project on genomes. By providing them the instruction and practice on the Internet and with Microsoft Word, my students found completing the Science project to be less challenging.

Influences

Students see technology as a means to completing tasks expeditiously. Many of these students have the technology at home and are accustomed to completing many tasks, such as researching topics and writing essays with the use of their home computer and access to the Internet. With this capability, who would want to go back to taking trips to the library, visiting the card catalog and manually writing down where these sources can be found? Who would prefer hunting through the stacks to find the sources over the ease of researching from the comfort of one’s home using an online library? The individuals who prefer to perform their research manually are likely to be individuals who decline the use of such technology due to lack of access and/or the feeling of uneasiness while using it.

I believe students, teachers and staff will influence the growing use of technology as a learning method. As each individual becomes more familiar with the capabilities technology brings to the learning environment, the more each will desire the use of it. An analogy I like to use is why ride a bike to one’s destination when one can drive a car and get to their destination much sooner? This car is not only quicker, but also provides protection from the weather elements that may make riding a bike less desirable. Computers make many tasks much quicker, and provide other benefits such as ease of access to learning materials on and off campus. The ease and capabilities technology offers classrooms will positively influence its use in our classrooms.

Development and Design
Many districts are currently involved in developing and designing these technological advances in the learning environment. However, there appears to be an unavoidable learning curve that affects these decisions. As such, it has become evident, through trial and error, that it requires more than the upper management to make the choices on the hardware and software that will be available to the school sites. Let’s take into example my district’s plan, The Hemet Unified School District District Technology Plan (2006). This plan has hit this learning curve head on. The plan was created in 2006 and is to span until the end of the school year, 2009. As I take a look into the well intentions of the plan, now in retrospect, it is quite evident that we are in need of finding software that makes working with the hardware not only easier, but more desirable. Very little of what we have available by means of educational software conforms to the needs of our classrooms. Due to this fact teachers are left with the option of researching programs available through the Internet. What a disappointment it is to find that much of the educational software that is free to the public is also disorganized and little help to the average classroom teacher. In addition, the programs that might be of interest to most teachers require annual fees, and thus place a burden on these individuals to pay the subscription price to test out the software capabilities. What we lack in our district is software that is readily available and useful for all. In other words, we have learned that having all this technology doesn’t allow us to perform at our anticipated levels without the proper software to support student and staff needs effectively. This was an issue not recognized at the time the plan was put together.

Identifying where we have fallen short of meeting our goals allows us to further plan and implement a much needed plan that focuses on discovering and utilizing software that students and teachers will find desirable and effective in meeting our goals. A long story short, we have the hardware to support our staff and students technological needs, but lack the software that best supports the desired learning experiences. The next decade should bring with it an increased use of technology with the provisions of viable software. As such, I suspect Hemet Unified School District will place its focus, over the next decade, on finding and testing software that most closely meets the needs of the classrooms while additionally providing content that best supports the state standards.

My Role

Very little has been done in the past per individual support and decision making as it pertains to technology. As such, my role is to make every attempt to become involved in the decision making process, and encourage my district to continue to reach out to staff for their opinions on the needs in software. The number one thing I can offer in this area is my voice. Secondly, it is in my best interest to continue to explore the technology options currently available at my site and strive to become better skilled with the use of these items. One such example of technology I have yet to become familiar with is the InterWrite Pad® I have stashed behind my white board. My goal is to become familiar with it very soon and begin using it in the classroom with the upcoming school year. Lastly, I expect to be involved in continuing education and staff development that supports my district’s desire to keep up with technological advances in education.

Personal Impact
When I look back to the year 1990, and my introduction to education by means of undergraduate studies at the University of Southern California, I can’t recall any talk about technology. Although there may have been some discussion about possible advances in this area, it was not impressive enough to remain on my mind. Thus, I recall learning how to deliver classroom instruction and meet the needs of the diverse communities of Southern California using methods such as SDAIE, Collaborative Groups, etc. It wasn’t until one decade later, while completing my fifth year for my preliminary credential, that technology, and the use of software in the classroom, received its own class. Another five plus years later and another “computers in education” class is added to the courses required to clear my credential in California. This is confirmation that education is becoming technology based, and thus it isn’t hard to predict that classrooms will continue to grow to accommodate the hardware and software needs of the changing curriculum. The impact this has on me now and in the future, is a personal and necessary drive to keep abreast of the advances in technology. My job and my future in education are strongly dependent on my ability to grow with the innovation of the times. Computers in education and the technology that goes along with it is the unrelenting innovation of the decade.

References
Hemet Unified School District (2006). Hemet unified school district district technology plan. Retrieved March 29, 2009, from http://www.hemetusd.k12.ca.us/business/technlgy/techinfo/0609mstr.pdf

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How Technology is Changing Our Kids’ Education: A First-Hand Look

Posted by Rachel Evans on
How Technology is Changing Our Kids’ Education: A First-Hand Look
How Technology is Changing Our Kids’ Education: A First-Hand Look

How Technology is Changing Our Kids’ Education: A First-Hand Look

When I was in elementary school, computers were largely used as a source of educational entertainment. Once a week, the elementary school classes would each spend about 20 minutes in the computer lab playing fun educational games. It was not until I was in high school that we started using basic word processing software to type reports and papers. If you are wondering how old I am, I graduated high school in the mid-1990s. As my children have entered public elementary school and now middle school, I am fascinated at how public schools have embraced technology and how easily the kids are using it.

In Elementary School Today

As early as first grade, my kids used PowerPoint to prepare basic presentations for parent-student conferences at the end of the year. They were shown how to use the program, and they created a computer slideshow that showed off their work for their past year. This was standard for all of the kids from first grade through fifth grade in my . They also used various programs to edit photos and videos for other presentations, and they often type papers now rather than handwrite them.

In Middle School

Perhaps the most significant difference that I have noticed as a parent begins with the middle school years. As early as sixth grade, kids in my child’s school are encouraged to bring their smart phones and other devices that have web capabilities with them to school. The school has a strict policy that prohibits texting, phone calls, taking photos of videos and more at school. The devices are permitted purely to provide kids with Internet access at their desks, and the school offers WiFi for the students. For students who do not have a smart phone or other device, they have invested in a few iPads for each of the classrooms. The intent is to provide kids with the ability to conduct research as needed throughout the day. The cost to the school is minimized because the kids are using their own devices.

Further, some of my child’s teachers have further used technology in an innovative way. For example, one of my child’s teachers gives the class homework each night of watching her pre-recorded lesson online and taking notes. Rather than spend time in class listening to her lesson, the students can watch it and absorb it on their own, repeating it as many times as necessary. In class, the kids work together in groups or online on exercises, assignments and more related to the previous night’s homework. The teacher is available to answer questions about the assignment the class is working on. This is directly opposite the “old” way of teaching a class, which involved spending time lecturing in class and doing the assignment at home. I believe this new method maximizes class time in a manner that is most beneficial to the kids.

These are the most prevalent uses of technology in my kids’ schools, but I am sure there will be many more exciting changes in store before my youngest graduates!

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Attachment Parenting Older Children: Alternative Education

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Attachment Parenting Older Children: Alternative Education
Attachment Parenting Older Children: Alternative Education

Attachment Parenting Older Children: Alternative Education

Practicing attachment parenting generally leads to a great deal of research. In addition to simply wanting to be well educated about my parenting choices, I’ve found myself researching parenting topics regularly for many reasons. Family and friends tend to come to me for advice and information because they know I’ll find the most accurate available. This led me to further research in college, focusing most of my electives in psychology and education. You’d be surprised how much a thorough knowledge of such topics helps in political advocacy, as well.

Whether you practice Attachment Parenting or not, your children’s education is probably very important to you. Most parents still think their choices revolve around money. The options seem to be public or private school. More and more parents are realizing that they have the right to take responsibility for their children’s education and consider homeschooling as well. What most people don’t realize is that the choices aren’t that cut and dry. If none of those options seem to fit your needs quite right, you don’t have to settle.

While money can play a part, the main concern is how active you want to be in your child’s upbringing and education. There is a spectrum that ranges from boarding schools and nannies to unschooling.

Boarding School

In the united states, most boarding schools are limited to 9th grade and up but there are a few for younger children if you’re really determined. Boarding schools are known for providing children with regimented educations and connections that help them in their future careers. They are also known to be outstandingly expensive and provide minimal opportunities for parents to guide and interact with their own children during.

Public School

Public schooling is a social welfare program every state in the United States is required to offer. Public school is available in some states as young as two or three years old, and through twenty-one. The educational and personal guidance offered children varies more widely in public schools than any other educational option. Children may be offered horribly neglectful and abusive school years or incredibly uplifting opportunities to improve themselves, and this can vary from one teacher to another within the same school. Parents have no say in what academics or morals their children are taught and there have been national cases where parents were tried for trying to keep their children from being taught morally objectionable messages. Public schools in many areas expect parents to pay out constantly, but as a welfare program they cannot actually require payment from low income families. In such cases, they are required to offer alternative programs. Public schools usually welcome parentally involvement and volunteering. While some even expect it, few require parental involvement. One of the main reasons public school is so popular is that it is a free way to pass off most of the responsibility for a child’s upbringing. As such, it can be nearly impossible to force or coerce parental involvement at times. This program is earnestly needed by many parents throughout the nation, but it is also filled with children whose families are perfectly capable of raising them without assistance.

Private School

Private schools are run by private organizations and individuals. As such, they are operated on different legal standards than public schools. They can be very expensive but often have scholarship programs for children with financial need or high academic performance. They generally offer more effective teaching methods and more talented teachers than public schools. They almost always have specialized curriculum. This can range from academic focus to religious foundations. Private schools can vary greatly in their desire for parental involvement. Some prefer parents to simply pay them enough to hire the best mentors as staff. Others require parents to volunteer in their children’s classes and throughout the school.

Dual Enrollment

Many public and some private schools allow children to enroll part time. In such cases, the school teaches one or more specific subjects and the parents are responsible for the rest of their children’s upbringing. In such cases, parents often have to prove they are teaching their children using methods the school approves of. This method is great for parents that want to take responsibility for their children’s education but doubt their abilities in some areas. Generally, dual enrollment students enroll mostly in electives and extra-curriculars like band or sports. This is a less expensive than enrolling in community or private programs and can be a huge help to homeschoolers on a budget. It is usually free, and at least much less expensive than full time enrollment. Plus, it allows much more parental involvement than a fully institutionalized education.

Co-op

A co-op is a group of parents that share the education of their children. They are sometimes organized as private schools legally, but usually just another way homeschoolers can organize parts of their children’s schooling. Generally, each parent takes one subject they are knowledgeable about. All the children will be dropped off at that person’s house, or another designated location, for classes. Classes often meet daily, with each parent taking one day per week. Children are not generally subject to the age segregation of other classroom situations, making both the teacher and student’s job much easier. Costs are nominal for small co-ops, but administrative fees can become costly with large ones. This is the most involved a parent can be in their child’s upbringing while still utilizing the classroom organization mainstream America thinks children need to learn.

Charter School

A charter school is another form of public school. With the exception of academic charters, they look little to nothing like the standard school model. Families typically fight for the opportunity to enroll their children in these schools when they are available. They can look like anything from a science lab to a farm to something from a sci-fi novel. They can also look just like homeschooling. Homeschool is a legal designation, not an educational method. Many charter schools will provide parents with their choice of curriculum and supplies. They provide teachers for advice and often even offer extra-curricular programs as well as academic classes. Children are welcome to participate in such programs, but not required to. They also allow the state partial control in children’s upbringing. Parents are required to meet with teachers or educational advisors regularly to prove their children’s progress. Sometimes this means proving what they’ve been learning but all too often it means proving they’ve been producing a set amount of busy work, regardless of what they’ve actually learned. Still, if a family naturally follows methods and patterns similar to the standard classroom model, this option can be a huge help.

Distance Education

Not only college students can attend school from home. There are a variety of distance based private schools, and even a few public ones. While living like homeschoolers, such children may be considered to be legally enrolled in a public or private school. Most private distance education programs actually offer no legal advantage to homeschooling though. Most people seem to think their children will be legally considered private school students if their school is accredited. This is simple not true. Accreditation is granted by private institutions, not the state or federal government. In fact, none of the major distance learning programs for K-12 students are accredited by an agency recognized by *any* state in the United States, or on the federal recommendation list. They are also known for being very expensive. Some are Internet based. While others ship their products to the family and have them report manually. That said, these programs can still be a wonderful tool. Handing authority over to someone else can ease tensions over school matters significantly. Children are still in the home, being raised by their parents. They are still learning the majority of their morality from reputable sources, and they can be monitored as their developmental level requires.

Boxed Curriculum

Similar to distance education programs are boxed curriculum. These products come with everything you need to teach your children, and instructions on how to do so. There are a wide variety available, as well. Some can be customized to children’s strengths and weaknesses, too. They are typically very expensive, though. Since parents aren’t reporting to anyone, they are able to adjust the lessons and progression to meet their children’s needs. These can also be mixed and matched to meet individual needs, both in level and products used for different subjects.

Parent Designed Curriculum

Many parents don’t have the money for boxed curriculum or don’t like the busy work they typically employ. Such parents design their own lessons. Designing lessons is very simple. There is a wealth of resources both for design and activities available to parents. Parents that design their own lessons typically don’t separate topics into school subjects as clearly. A child can learn Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science in the same lesson for example.

Unschooling

Unschooling is often also referred to as Child-Led learning and looks differently in each house. In some homes, children are expected to complete school tasks but are given the right to choose the methods and/or topics they learn about themselves. In some homes, children are not expected to complete school work at all. Instead they are taught by hands on real world methods, and usually allowed to choose their areas of interest. From the outside, these families often look as if they are simply neglecting their children’s education. Often, these children learn at very inconsistent rates. Sometimes they will fall well behind their peers in difficult subjects for years. At some point, these children eventually find an internal desire to learn what they don’t know. Either they just gain an interest, or they develop a goal that necessitates certain knowledge. Rest assured, what it takes the rest of society 12 years of life to learn can actually be learned in just a few months when they are more mature and motivated. Unschooling is much easier and less expensive than any other means of education. Successful unschooling necessitates a high level of parental involvement, since most learning is from conversations and activities. It is only for confident parents, though. It can be downright nerve racking to deal with doubters when you don’t have written proof of your child’s abilities. Worse yet, self doubt can gnaw at your confidence in your parenting skills in general when it starts in on your educational choices.

Educational Neglect

While I don’t really consider this an option, it should be brought up. The less an education method looks like what someone is used to, the more likely they are to think that education is being neglected. Educational neglect means withholding education from your children. Teaching them differently is not neglectful. Most of the education laws in the United States are meant to reduce educational neglect. There are laws on every type of schooling. Public schools have waste more and more classroom time to teach kids to pass tests just to keep their funding. Private schools have to monitor and report on family and health information they have no business even knowing. Homeschools have to constantly prove themselves, even being forced to submit to regular home inspections in some areas. The problem with all these laws is that the people that abide by them are the ones doing what they’re supposed to. The ones that are neglectful simply fly under the radar. We are crippling our ability to raise intelligent children in the hopes of helping those that aren’t affected by our efforts. Instead of reporting your local homeschoolers or voting in tighter restrictions on your local schools, think about what you are trying to achieve and whether your actions will have any effect on that problem.

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Is Technology in Education Causing Child Parent Stress?

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Is Technology in Education Causing Child  Parent Stress?
Is Technology in Education Causing Child Parent Stress?

Is Technology in Education Causing Child Parent Stress?

After only eight days of school, our two middle school children are bogged down with multiple projects, lengthy reading expectations and nightly homework in multiple subjects. After arriving home at 4PM, our children immediately hit the books and read, study, research and complete homework until 9:30PM or later. There is a disconnect occurring between parents and children who have so much homework to complete that home chores, interaction and family time are pushed to the back burner. Replacing social communication are deadlines, research projects, reading lists, quizzes and tests.

The Link Between Technology and Parent / Child Stress

Researching online is quicker and easier than walking, riding or driving to the local library and searching through books, magazines and microfiche. Children of today need only a personal computer and Internet connection to gain access to the largest library ever created, but does that mean teachers are becoming more dependent on the Internet as a resource and thus expecting children to do more outside of school than in previous years and generations?

Technology has a fantastic place in education and the school system, but when expectations outside of school hours become so overpowering that children are left with no down time and no time with family without worrying about deadlines and grades, there is a disconnect that will occur between parents and children.

How Our Family is Dealing With Increased Expectation and Technology

As a family, we are tired of spending five days a week working full-time only to be responsible for all chores in a household of six people. Chores are important to teach children responsibility and no advances in technology or outrageous educational expectations will replace that fact. We are working with our children on choosing project themes that require no Internet access or detailed research. Just because the Internet is available does not mean it is the best source of information.

We will soon begin walking to the library a couple of days a week so our older children can work with media hands on as opposed to virtually. Research days for projects will be limited to one to two days a week and no school work is allowed on Sundays – our family’s day of rest and relaxation together without expectation.

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Music Education for Children

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Music Education for Children
Music Education for Children

Music Education for Children

The music begins

When you bring home the… guitar, trumpet, piano, drums, fill in your choice, there is a look of awe and wonder in their eyes. They can’t wait to get their little paws on the thing. Even as you are explaining how to handle the instrument, they are blocking out your annoying parental tones and grabbing for it; ready to rock. They proudly boast to anyone who will listen, that they are taking music lessons. The lessons begin and they can’t wait to show you the first three notes they learned on the first day. To you, it is the sound of brilliance in the making. You want anyone who will listen to join in celebrating the best three notes of music ever played. Out comes the video phone and soon your little Mozart, your Louis Armstrong, your Taylor Swift is on facebook and youtube. (Justin Bieber was discovered on youtube, after all).

But then there’s homework
“I’ll practice everyday”, is what you were promised; as your little angel pleaded in the store. However, beyond practicing, your child must learn music theory. It starts to resemble school. None of their friends have to endure this abuse. Your little Mozart becomes distracted, and the resistance begins: “do I have to practice?”, “I’ll practice later“, “I’ve practiced enough.” Eventually there is the inevitable ear crunching, heart shredding: I HATE PRACTICING. I DON’T WANT TO PLAY THIS STUPID INSTRUMENT. I’M QUITTING! You cringe as you consider the monetary investment. You argue, demand and threaten until eventually Mozart marches to the instrument and defiantly slams out the assigned music 10 times faster than it’s meant to be played. You begin to weaken: does the world really need another piano player? Will the world end if Suzie is not strumming her way through it?

Do you give up or do you go on?

Consider this: I’ve never met an adult who could play an instrument who said, “I wish I didn’t know how to play…” the violin, sitar, bagpipes, harp, etc. There are two things I have heard: “I’m glad my parents made me stay with it” and “I wish my parents had made me stay with it”.

My stepson is the inspiration for this article. Like his father, he is a drummer. Because of dad, he started younger than most. He was banging on his first drum at one and was responsible for a daily drum practice at three. 15 minutes was all I required; at seven it became 30 minutes. I was the bad guy. I insisted, I pushed, at times I wavered, but endured. He’s 12 now and loves being a drummer; loves being the kid at school who did drum solos for talent shows. A year ago he made the mistake of showing potential on the piano…and so, once more, the cycle began. However, for the most part, we have made it to the other side. My stepson is now aware of his talent and sees himself as a musician. The practices come easier these days and more often than not, unsolicited.

The benefits
Playing a musical instrument develops self esteem, social skills, promotes brain development and can even keep your child from abusing drugs and alcohol. I see discipline, confidence and creativity in my stepson that has been enhanced by music. Please visit: www.childrensmusicworkshop.com/advocacy/benefits.html. (no apostrophe s) There you will find videos as well as the results of studies, showing how children succeed in school and in life because of music.
It’s a personal decision whether or not to force your child to stick with an instrument. I recommend enduring. The battle may be long; I stuck with it for years, but you’ll see great things develop in your child and they’ll even thank you for making them stay the course; one day…

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Southern Illinois Child Advocacy Center Promotes Education, Safety

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Southern Illinois Child Advocacy Center Promotes Education, Safety
Southern Illinois Child Advocacy Center Promotes Education, Safety

Southern Illinois Child Advocacy Center Promotes Education, Safety

Tragedy in Mount Vernon led to the creation of The Amy Center and tragedy keeps it in business, but Director Ladonna Richards finds comfort in the fact that the center is educating people and helping children.

The Amy Center is one of only six child advocacy centers in Southern Illinois and it was the first in the region. Named for then 10-year-old Amy Schulz who was raped, sodomized and murdered, The Amy Center serves seven counties around Mount Vernon and more than 200 children a year.

Schulz’ father Dennis and State Rep. Kurt Granberg (D-Centralia) began the center in 1990. Last year, the center served 238 children. Of that, 128 required forensic interviews, the interview to determine if they have been sexually abused.

Richards said this year, the center is on pace to surpass that mark, having already done more than 100 forensic interviews. “We only take referrals from the Department of Child and Family services and from law enforcement, so that cuts our numbers down some,” she said.

The expense of exams and interviews, as well as the likelihood of false accusations, is why the center chooses not to accept private referrals. “We let the investigators who are trained do the actual investigating and determine if there is enough information to warrant our involvement,” she said.

The center simply cannot cover any more area because children and their representatives are having to travel so long to the very emotional and difficult interviews. “We just can’t ask people to drive an hour and a half to put them through this,” she said. “Some of our counties are more than an hour away.”

That creates a problem because there is a strip of counties across central Illinois without any advocacy centers for the children. In those cases, law enforcement officials simply call the nearest center and beg for help. “We cover them when we can,” she said.

The Amy Center began with a single forensic investigator and now has three trained investigators on staff, both because of the client load and to give investigator’s a break between cases.

Richards said as one of the investigators, she finds the job difficult but rewarding. “When you see that look on a child’s face that says they trust you and know you are there to help them, it’s worth every second of the effort,” she said. Sometimes, that means children open up enough to reveal the details of the abuse. Other times, it means they open enough to show that there isn’t any abuse happening.

The center video tapes, through hidden cameras almost like nanny-cams, the interview sessions and provides a dvd copy of the interview to local authorities for use in the case. Center personnel also help prepare children when they will be forced to testify in court and attends court hearings with the children.

“The one thing we don’t do is counseling. We believe that someone needs to be very specialized to counsel children after they have been abused and we refer to outside agencies, as close to their home community as we can,” she said.

The center also provides community education regarding potential sexual abuse and helps teach children to identify abuse. “We teach good touch, bad touch, but also good touch, confusing touch,” she said.

The difference is that some forms of abuse begin as touches that don’t fit the classic definition of “bad touch”, but make the child confused or uncomfortable. Through school visits, the center helps children from preschool age to sixth grade identify and appropriately confront things that make them uncomfortable, she said.

“The problem is, we aren’t even getting into all the schools in our area and it’s still a two year rotation,” she said. The center also offers a pre-dating safety class for children in seventh and eighth grade, covering issues like date rape drugs and how drugs use and alcohol use can affect the decisions a person makes about their sexuality. At first, Richards said, the center stuck to public schools, but then found that children in the parochial schools needed the lessons as well.

“We’re also finding that by seventh and eighth grade, we’re sometimes too late. We find that a lot of children are already sexually active at that age,” she said.

The Amy Center is funded almost entirely through grants, with some support coming from local donations. Usually, the donations come in the form of items the center can use, Richards said.

“WE find a lot of people know that we give the children a toy after their interview, so we get a lot of stuffed animals,” she said. “I hate to sound ungrateful, but there are a lot of other things we could use more.”

Children visiting the center range in age from 3 to 15, she said, and the older children are mostly girls. “Sometimes, depending on who might see them, they’ll take a stuffed animal, but a lot of time we need something to give as a gift tot he older children.”

Richards suggested many of the victims come from underprivileged families and would appreciate something as simple as a bottle of lotion from Bath & Body Works at the mall. “Even a little $3 sample bottle would be something that was all theirs,” she said.

People wishing to donate items for The Amy Center may want to consider items from the following list, Richards said.
“We can always use office supplies or gift cards to Wal-Mart, K-Mart or Staples,” she said.

Other items the center frequently needs are:
Stamps
Recordable dvds
gift bags (for wrapping Christmas presents)
school supplies/book bags
toiletries suitable for pre-teens and young teenagers
“Really, what we are lacking the most if small gift items that will appeals to 10 to 15 year olds, mostly girls,” Richards said.
To donate, contact the center at (618) 244-2100.

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Can the iPad Replace All Educational Technology?

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Can the iPad Replace All Educational Technology?
Can the iPad Replace All Educational Technology?

Can the iPad Replace All Educational Technology?

The Apple iPad has, in many ways, revolutionized consumer technology. People like the iPad because it allows for myriad content mediums to be enjoyed in a very portable package. Schools are quickly jumping on the tablet bandwagon and discussing whether something like the iPad could replace computer labs and laptops. Before making this type of move, schools must consider a number of factors.

Cost considerations

The iPad is more affordable than other Apple products, such as laptops and desktops. However, schools can still get some PC-based computers for less money than an iPad. Computers aren’t as trendy anymore, but as an educational device they are in many ways just as functional. In addition, the use of iPads may also require a certain amount of software, networking and support. With portable devices, schools also have to think about damage and theft, which can be a major problem at larger schools.

Consumption versus production

One major challenge with something like an iPad is that it is really designed as a consumption device rather than a production device. In other words, the iPad is better for reading and viewing than it is for writing and creating. Students can certainly produce a wide diversity of content just by manipulating data around the touch screen. However, due to the software limits of many apps, that content may be more rudimentary than documents produced on a computer. I have found success in producing content on an iPad, but I still prefer a standard computer or laptop for some projects. Future students may be more comfortable with a tablet, but I don’t see them being able to overcome certain software limitations.

Curricular infusion

One of the major challenges faced by schools is how to incorporate the iPad into the curriculum. At best the iPad can augment good teaching and get students excited about a particular subject. At worst, the tablet can be a distraction that does not provide the depth of content needed for the classroom. Teachers must find appropriate materials that allow for actual learning, as opposed to simply using a device because it is there. Textbooks on an iPad can be expensive, and not every subject will seamlessly integrate with this technology. I have seen some educational apps that look very exciting, while others are a bit cumbersome. Such is the nature of technology, even technology that comes in a shiny package.

Accessories

There is also the reality that purchasing an iPad is not just about acquiring the device. There are also accessories such as keyboards, cases, cables, apps and networking hardware. This can add to the cost and put a strain on technology budgets. Therefore, schools must realize that they are making a bigger commitment than just the device. If schools sign up with a company like Apple, they are deciding to do business with a unique type of company for potentially a long time.

Future trends

The iPad is very popular right now, but there is no guarantee that this will always be the case. Just a few years ago schools were scrambling to build computer labs, which were followed by carts full of laptops. The iPad is compact and versatile, but it also has some limits. Before schools rush to purchase a large number of iPads, they should honesty assess the pro and cons, and avoid getting lost in the hype of new technology. As a consumer and an educator, I do like the iPad a great deal. It is powerful, versatile, and easy to carry around to a variety of settings. However, it has limits, and I think schools have to be careful that they do not sacrifice productivity for popularity.

The author teaches at the college level and prior to entering the classroom he spent many years in higher education administration. On occasion he also enjoys the pure entertainment of substitute teaching at the high school and middle school levels.

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First Person: House Votes to Cut Education Benefits, Senate Ponders the Bill, Students Fear for Pell Grants

Posted by Rachel Evans on
First Person: House Votes to Cut Education Benefits, Senate Ponders the Bill, Students Fear for Pell Grants

First Person: House Votes to Cut Education Benefits, Senate Ponders the Bill, Students Fear for Pell Grants

First Person: House Votes to Cut Education Benefits, Senate Ponders the Bill, Students Fear for Pell Grants

The House of Representatives recently voted to cut the Pell Grant budget by $5.7 billion, approving a bill that makes over $61 billion in budget cuts to various areas. The Senate will vote on the issue soon. Each student’s Pell Grant amount will be reduced by an average of $754 per grant if the bill is passed. This will have a huge impact on many students and universities.

As a student, this bill scares me. I recently left active-duty military service and joined the Reserves. I have an Associate’s Degree from a local community college, and two more from the Community College of the Air Force. However, I want to finish my Bachelor’s Degree, even though my civilian career is going well. I began college classes at American Military University in the fall of 2009, and am about nine classes from degree completion. In addition, my husband retired from active-duty military service in December 2010 and began working toward his Bachelor’s Degree at AMU. He has an Associate’s Degree in the Ford ASSET program and is pursuing his degree in Human Resource Management.

I currently receive the Montgomery GI Bill, which helps pay my tuition. With being in school full-time and taking four classes per semester, three semesters per year, I rely on Pell Grants to help pay the rest of my tuition and fees and keep me afloat from semester to semester. My husband also receives tuition assistance and GI Bill benefits, but needs his Pell Grant to enable him to work a lower-paying, less-stressful federal government job while he attends school.

If our Pell Grants are cut, we will have to work more, take more student loans out, and sacrifice more to finish our degrees. The stress level is at an all-time high with two adults working full-time and attending school full-time, and two grade-school aged children in the house. If we lose even a portion of our Pell Grants, one or both of us will have to drop out of classes.

The economy in our country is in dire straits, and there is no easy solution. I am open to hear any suggestions that our lawmakers throw out, but cutting education spending is not the answer. If education funding is cut, fewer individuals will pursue higher education, and, as a result, will not be able to get better jobs. This leads to less taxes paid out, and more people needing government assistance. There has to be a better answer.

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A Change in Technology, a Change in Higher Education

Posted by Rachel Evans on
A Change in Technology, a Change in Higher Education
A Change in Technology, a Change in Higher Education

A Change in Technology, a Change in Higher Education

When I was a kid, we lived in a rural area; actually I still live in a rural area. My parents actually had a rotary phone and even a party line where you had to wait to use the phone if the neighbor was on the other end. Talk about the lack of privacy. So I can definitely see how technology has changed over the years.

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In fact, in the last decade, the impact technology has had on my life has been a positive experience that will last me a lifetime. I went from a dial up modem on my first computer to a Wi-Fi connection my newest computer which has given me a chance to learn and research at great speed.

The changing technology that has been developed over the last ten years has allowed me to return to college full-time; a task that I never thought I would be able to complete at this stage in my life. The great aspect of this change in technology is that I have been able to take full time classes on line through an accredited college.

In the beginning I was nervous about taking classes online, the new programs that I needed to use for the classes were intimidating. But through step by step instructions and helpful customers’ service representation, I was able to download the programs for my classes that enabled me to write papers in APA format, use a webcam for speeches and group projects as well as learn how to use video chat to communicate with my peers. I would have never thought this type of techniques could be used in such an efficient manner.

The numerous hours that I have spent on line researching for my class papers, discussion questions and whatever assignments my professors have managed to throw my way has been the best learning experience that I could ever have imagined. Researching online has been a much simpler task since the . I can find numerous peer-reviewed and scholarly articles right at my fingertips.

The change in technology has also changed education which has had an impact on my life. In fact the impact will be seen in eight weeks when I receive my MBA from Baker College. I would have never thought this would have been possible. The completion of my degree will be one of the larger goals that I can cross off my bucket list.

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The Military Should Not Cut Education Budget

Posted by Rachel Evans on
The Military Should Not Cut Education Budget
The Military Should Not Cut Education Budget

The Military Should Not Cut Education Budget

Thanks to sequestration, the military has cut its budget by cutting education programs for active duty personnel. These programs could be used in military personnel’s free time to pursue college, vocational training, or even high school equivalency. Now, these programs are gone in the Marine Corps and army with the air force looking to follow suit. This is a cut that can only hurt us as a nation. This needs to be undone.

Many people who cannot otherwise afford an education join the military in order to get one. If it is available to them while they are in the service, they can take advantage of this program while remaining active duty. If they can’t, they will quit and take advantage of the Montgomery GI Bill. This means that more people will quit after 4 years of service, and we will have fewer people qualified to lead. It means we have fewer combat veterans in each unit when they go into combat. Overall, it means less military readiness.

In addition, one of the benefits of military life is the ability to advance, and increase your pay grade. In order to go from enlisted to officer pay grades, you need a college degree. This means that the options to improve life are dramatically cut if we no longer provide means to get that education to our soldiers. This, again, will lead to more people leaving, and more people needing to be recruited. It will also lead to more difficulty in recruiting people if one of the major perks to service has been removed.

Finally, we are asking our soldiers to take the brunt of the punishment for our government’s inability to behave like adults and cooperate. We spend more on our military than the next 14 countries combined. Certainly we can find places to make cuts that do not ask the poor, and lower middle class soldiers to shoulder the majority of the consequences. We need to prioritize the well being of our men and women in uniform over developing new ways to destroy entire countries. If we made intelligent cuts to the military budget rather than slashing away at programs that actually help people, we would be much closer to a sustainable budget.