Archives for category: Students

Education Week published an insightful article about the dangers to student privacy during this time when students are relying on tech products to connect to teachers. Read it in full if you have a subscription.

https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/03/26/massive-shift-to-remote-learning-prompts-big.html

Massive Shift to Remote Learning Prompts Big Data Privacy Concerns

By Mark Lieberman

Schools are confronting a wide range of potential problems around student data privacy as they scramble to put technology tools for virtual instruction in place during extended school building shutdowns.

Teachers have already begun connecting with students using a variety of digital tools, some of which are new to them and their schools and weren’t designed for classroom use—everything from videoconferencing apps like Zoom to digital devices like Chromebooks and learning platforms like Babbel and BrainPop.

An unprecedented number of online interactions between teachers and students from their respective homes introduce new privacy questions that lack easy answers. And at least one state’s governor, aiming to speed up implementation of new remote learning tools, has temporarily waived legal requirements for agreements between school districts and technology companies that typically include student data privacy provisions.

The challenges for schools in staying abreast of privacy concerns have become acute as companies have begun offering temporary free subscriptions to their expensive tech products, said Antonio Romayor Jr., chief technology officer for El Centro Elementary School District in California.

Some teachers in his district have begun bypassing the typical vetting procedures for new tech products by adding the free products directly to their single sign-on platforms for students and teachers to use, he said.

Some of those free products could eventually cost schools and parents money, which means anyone using them should be extra careful about offering credit-card information when signing up, Romayor said. Programs that aren’t vetted in advance also might run afoul of privacy policy. “It’s a constant struggle,” he said.

While the new technological landscape for schools feels unprecedented in many ways, schools still have an obligation to inform parents of how their students’ data is being used, even if the teaching is occurring outside school buildings. Federal laws—such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)—should help guide school leaders in deciding what new technologies to use.

“The rules, the regulations apply whether the student is actually in the classroom physically or is at home being taught through a distance learning framework,” said Linnette Attai, president of the for-profit education company PlayWell and a close observer of student privacy issues.

Student privacy experts are recommending that school districts take a deliberate, rather than frenetic, approach to adopting new technologies, and guard against overinvesting in new tools before being fully aware of how they work and how they could jeopardize students’ data privacy.

Cheri Kiesecker, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Data Privacy, wants parents and schools to minimize as much as possible the amount of student data that’s being collected and sold by tech companies. She felt the same before the COVID-19 outbreak.

In fact, Kiesecker points to a 2018 warning from the FBI noting that the consequences of ed-tech companies collecting too much data on students “could result in social engineering, bullying, tracking, identity theft, or other means for targeting children.” Most U.S. states earned a “C” or lower grade from a 2019 survey of student data privacy protections by Kiesecker’s organization and the Network for Public Education.

As schools rush to put remote learning programs in places, Kiesecker argues that those student data privacy problems could get significantly worse. And that could have long-term consequences for many students. “Data is actually your identity and a form of social currency,” she said.

In communities across the country, teachers are organizing “teacher parades,” where they drive slowly through the neighborhoods where their students live, honking and waving as their students jump up and down with excitement.

Where did it start? This one was in Springfield, but I have heard that the first one was in Lawrence, Kansas.

Do you know?

Veteran teacher Nancy Bailey offers some common sense advice about how to help students become better readers and writers. Her advice is meant for students with or without disabilities.

Here are first two suggestions:

I welcome teachers and parents to add whatever they’d like to share, what works for you, or special resource pages or links.

Handwriting

Teachers don’t always focus on handwriting because of other skills they are made to address. The focus on technology has sometimes pushed handwriting out of the picture. So, helping students, especially students with reading or writing (dysgraphia) disabilities, become better at handwriting at home, might be a beneficial exercise at this time.

Teachers struggle to understand what students mean when they turn in sloppy papers. Even if students misspell words, it’s much easier to see the breakdown of their errors and help them correct their papers, when letters are neatly printed or written in cursive.

***Don’t push a child to write if they have difficulty holding a pencil or if they are too young.

Holding a pencil.

This may seem strange, but many students don’t know how to hold a pencil! My husband teaches college students and remarks about the many strange ways he has observed students holding pencils and pens in a cramped and uncomfortable manner.

The pencil should be held between the thumb and middle finger with the index finger riding the pencil. The pencil should be grasped above the sharpened point. Pencil grippers are helpful, or some tape or a rubber band wrapped around the pencil can help with gripping.

Younger children work better with larger pencils.

As a left-handed writer with horrible handwriting, I should remain silent. But I have noticed young adults who literally don’t know how to hold a pencil and whose handwriting is even worse than mine.

The Los Angeles Times published a disturbing article about the problems and obstacles that students and teachers are encountering as online learning becomes the new normal. For many children, instruction is inaccessible.

The gaps between the haves and have-nots are glaring.

“ Misti Kemmer, a fourth-grade teacher at Russell Elementary School in South Los Angeles, is working hard to keep her students learning now that schools are closed. She shares detailed lesson plans on Google Drive, sends messages to families every day and delivers YouTube lectures from her home.

She’s trying to look at all this stuff on a tiny cellphone after dinner hours,” Kemmer said. “How much is a 9- year-old going to get done?”

“There’s this whole distance-learning thing, but how much learning is actually going on?” she added.

“But only three or four of her 28 students accessed their schoolwork last week, she said. Some don’t have computers and others are without internet access. One student can only open assignments on her father’s phone when he gets home from work.

“Almost all K-12 schools in California were shuttered last week. But from top state education leaders to district officials, including L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner, the message has been clear: Even though campuses are closed, learning will continue.

“While we are in very unique circumstances at this time, we are still providing education to our students,” state Supt. of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said earlier this week. “School is not out, but we are finding a different way to deliver it.”

“But the reality is complicated.

“As teachers scramble to adjust to an entirely new world of education, they are coming up against significant barriers.

“There is uneven access to technology, difficulties communicating with students and parents, and uncertainty about expectations at a time when many families are suffering.
And even for educators who have long used online learning tools and whose students have easy access to them, it is challenging to rely solely on technology.

“Many teachers are grappling with this while also adapting to the tough realities of working from home.

“At Marianna Avenue Elementary School in East Los Angeles, teachers and administrators scrambled after the closure was announced March 13 to make sure every student in first through sixth grades took home a Chromebook laptop, said Estela Campos, a coordinator at the school. The school is fortunate to have enough computers for nearly every student, she said.

“But teachers are struggling to get their students online — some children had never used the computers at home and many families don’t have internet access. In some cases, children in higher grades are now having to take care of their younger siblings while their parents work and are unable to dedicate time to their own schoolwork, she said….

“Erin Fitzgerald-Haddad, a seventh-grade math teacher at the San Fernando Institute of Applied Media, a Los Angeles Unified school, has the know-how and resources to make a transition to distance learning smoother.
Fitzgerald-Haddad said teachers and students at her school were regularly using digital platforms like Schoology, an LAUSD learning management system, or Google Suites long before the closures last week.

“The school was able to send all students home with an iPad or Chromebook, though some opted out, and the school put together a YouTube channel where teachers have been posting daily videos. Faculty are also checking in with students and monitoring their work online, she said.

“Even with their expertise to quickly mobilize resources, though, Fitzgerald-Haddad has noticed differences in how students are adapting to distance learning.

“Maybe it’s different at the high school level, but [for] eighth grade and younger, I do not believe it’s reasonable to expect students to be learning on their own,” she said.

“While some students are advanced and will be able to pick up the material on their own, the Schoology platform allows her to see that some aren’t keeping up.

“The ones that really need the support, they’re the ones I’m having to make phone calls to,” she said….”

Mercedes Schneider posts a letter from Louisiana’steacher of the year, Chris Dier, to the class of 2020, which is unlikely to have a senior prom or graduation ceremony.

The teacher is a personal friend of Mercedes’.

This letter from a teacher to his students is very moving. It begins like this:

Dear High School Senior,

On Friday afternoon a few seniors came into my classroom after the last bell rang. They were concerned about prom and their senior trip. It broke my teacher heart to listen. As you’re reading this, you most likely have similar concerns.

This is supposed to be your year. The year for your senior prom, sporting events, cheer competitions, senior trips, clubs, and the rest of what senior year has to offer. You were supposed to be the captain of that team, the officer of that club, or that student who wanted to be with their friends one last year before venturing into the unknown. This was THE year that your entire schooling was building up to. But it was robbed from you because of this global pandemic.

Let’s be abundantly clear – you were robbed, and it’s unfair. If you’re upset, then you should embrace those feelings. Commiserate with one another. Some folks will downplay the situation because they won’t know what it feels like to have their senior year stripped at the last moment.

I, for one, will not downplay it as it happened to me. Hurricane Katrina devastated my community when I was a high school senior. I remember leaving my school on a Friday afternoon with my buddies only to never return to that school. I was supposed to be the captain of my soccer team, go to prom with my longtime crush, and finish the year with my lifelong friends. But it was all canceled. Instead, I stayed in a shelter and finished my high school in a different state. It was tough, and I had to find solace in places I never envisioned. It was hard, but we made it through. And I’m reliving that pain as I think of your disruption to your senior year.

Most do not need to experience Katrina to know that this is tough on you. Those of us who work in schools do so because we care above all else. That caring does not stop once you leave those school walls. In situations like these, we worry more about you. There is a lot of uncertainty, but rest assured, districts across the nation are working in creative ways, from potentially abbreviated school years to organizing social events when this subsides, to make this situation the best they possibly can for you. Some educators are working endlessly to transfer to virtual learning and accompany those without the internet. Administrators are working to get those meals together for those who need them. We are all in crisis mode but know that we are all doing everything we can to help during this tumultuous time. You are not forgotten. We are thinking about you. We are here for you. We care.

There’s nothing I, or anyone, can say to make up for that time you are losing in what is supposed to be one of the best years of your life.

Please read to the end.

This is one of the best articles I have ever read in Education Week. It is not an opinion piece. It is a news article by veteran journalist Stephen Sawchuk.

He begins:

This was the week that American schools across the country closed their doors.

It was the week that our public schools—often dismissed as mediocre, inequitable, or bureaucratic—showed just how much they mean to American society by their very absence.

The unprecedented shutdown public and private schools in dozens of states last week has illuminated one easily forgotten truism about schools: They are an absolute necessity for the functioning of civic culture, and even more fundamentally than that, daily life.

Schools are the centers of communities. They provide indispensible student-welfare services, like free meals, health care, and even dentistry. They care for children while parents work. And all those services do much to check the effects of America’s economically stratified systems of employment and health care on young students.

These insights came into focus last week as the nation’s governors, in the absence of a coherent message from federal officials, took charge and shuttered tens of thousands of American schools, affecting tens of millions of students, in an effort to curb the menacing spread of the new coronavirus,or COVID-19.

Education historians and researchers struggled to come up with a historical precedent to this brave new school-less world. The only certainty, they said, is that the long-term impacts for students will be severe, and most likely long lasting.

Student learning will suffer in general—and longstanding gaps in performance between advantaged and vulnerable students will widen, they predicted, a combination both of weakened instruction and the other social consequences of the pandemic.

With tax revenues in free fall, schools and other public services will suffer when they eventually re-open.

With annual testing wiped away, at least for this year, accountability hawks are weeping, but teachers and students can dream of schools that prioritize teaching, not testing.

Parents are finding out how difficult it is to teach, even when they are in charge of only one, two, or three children. They marvel that teachers can do what they do with classes of 25 or 30 children. And they long for a resumption of school. Students miss their friends, their teachers, their teams, the rhythm of daily life in school.

For a few brief weeks, maybe longer, Americans have been reminded of the importance of their community’s public schools and their professional teachers.

A veteran school nurse offers advice to parents to help them while they are schooling their children at home.

A huge google Doc with parent resources from RelentlessSchoolNurse, link at bottom of page:

The Relentless School Nurse: Dear Parents, A Message From Your School Nurse

The Relentless School Nurse: COVID-19 Survival Guide for Parents and Kids Who Are Home

Related FB group:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/445786889466638/?ref=share

Here is the bio of “The Relentless School Nurse.”

Published by Robin Cogan, MEd, RN, NCSN
Robin Cogan, MEd, RN, NCSN is a Nationally Certified School Nurse (NCSN), currently in her 19th year as a New Jersey school nurse in the Camden City School District. Robin is the Legislative Chair for the New Jersey State School Nurses Association. She is proud to be a Johnson & Johnson School Health Leadership Fellow and past Program Mentor. She has been recognized in her home state of New Jersey and nationally for her community-based initiative called “The Community Café: A Conversation That Matters.” Robin is the honored recipient of multiple awards for her work in school nursing and population health. These awards include, 2019 National Association of School Nurses President’s Award, 2018 NCSN School Nurse of the Year, 2017 Johnson & Johnson School Nurse of the Year, and the New Jersey Department of Health 2017 Population Health Hero Award. Robin serves as faculty in the School Nurse Certificate Program at Rutgers University-Camden School of Nursing, where she teaches the next generation of school nurses. She was presented the 2018 Rutgers University – Camden Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award for Part-time Faculty. Follow Robin on Twitter at @RobinCogan.

Nancy Bailey wisely explains the lesson of the current emergency and boils it down to this fact:

Online learning can never replace human teachers and support staff.

Parents who are staying home with their children have taken to Twitter to express their admiration for teachers. “How do teachers do this all day with 30 children,” they wonder.

Be sure to open her post and check out the links as well as the stuff I did not include here.

Bailey worries that the Ed-tech industry is zooming in to search for profits.

“While Covid-19 is of utmost concern, parents and educators, who’ve worried about the replacement of brick-and-mortar schools and teachers with anytime, anyplace, online instruction, wonder what this pandemic will mean to public education long term. Will this disaster be used to end public schools, replacing instruction with online competency-based learning?

”We’re reminded of disaster capitalism, a concept highlighted by Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, how Katrina was used in New Orleans to convert traditional public schools to charter schools. Within nineteen months, with most of the city’s poor residents still in exile, New Orleans’ public school system had been almost completely replaced by privately run charter schools. (p. 5-6). Who thought that could happen?

”The transitioning of technology into public schools, not simply as a supplemental tool for teachers to use at their discretion, but as a transformative means to remove teachers from the equation, has been highlighted with groups like Digital Promise and KnowledgeWorks. Both promote online learning and it’s difficult to find teachers in the mix.

”Combining this with the intentional defunding of public schools, shoddy treatment of teachers including the unwillingness to pay them appropriate salaries, inadequate resources and support staff, crumbling buildings, and the destruction of public schooling in America, should we not question what placing students online at this strange time will mean in the future to our schools?

The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of brick-and-mortar public schools, she writes.

“In “Coronavirus Has Shown Us the Vital Role Schools Play, But Will America Listen?” Glenda Cohen outlines how parents and the nation need public schools for survival. I have added some additional services and citations.

“Public schools are on the frontline fighting against childhood hunger. According to a CNBC report: Each day, the National School Lunch Program serves over 30 million children. The fact that many children will go hungry without their public school should give us pause.

“Students rely on school counseling. Students rely on school counselors for support.

“Parents need childcare so they can work. Working parents need schools to take care of their children so they can work. When schools close, parents are unable to do their jobs. This has a negative effect on the overall economy.

“Schools provide homeless children with stability. As Cohen points out, many homeless children rely on public schools. U.S. News and World Report claims 1.36 million students in the 2016-17 school year were homeless.

“Students with disabilities need accommodations and services. Most guidelines indicate that during the Covid-19 crisis, students with disabilities must have access to the same services as students without disabilities, but this leaves out accommodations that address the differences. Here are questions and answers from the Department of Education. How will students with autism, ADHD, and many other disabilities get the services they need?

“Shortcomings of Online Instruction

“Many children don’t have access to Broadband. Nearly 12 million children, many living in rural settings, lack access to an Internet connections. While ed-tech enthusiasts will claim it’s a matter of time before everyone has Broadband, looking for funding to do so indicates it will take time for this to occur.

“What happens with student privacy and information? Parents already worry about their child’s online personal identifiable information when they work online at school. How is a student’s online information protected when they work online at home during a public heath crisis? Here’s information about Covid-19 and FERPA.

“Socialization is missing. Speaking to someone on a screen is better than nothing, but it’s still isolating.

“Students work online alone. Many students need guidance and might not be able to focus on screens.
Children enjoy social gatherings that schools provide. The Covid-19 virus has left students agonizing over the field trips and school social events that they will miss, that cannot take place online.
How good is the instruction? There’s no research to show that working only online is better than teacher instruction.

“Parents have to supervise their children. Usually parents have to monitor their student’s work and make sure they stay on task.

“Teachers Are Loved and Respected.

“A college student whose classes were cancelled and switched to online stated they would miss their teacher who had provided extra help and whose class everyone enjoyed.

“Teachers have been the unsung heroes during this Covid-19 crisis. They have struggled the last few weeks to take care of their students, cleaning and disinfecting their classes due to an overwhelmed custodial staff, along with keeping students calm, comforting confused children and teens.

Now they struggle to go online to provide lessons from home. As blogger Nancy Flanagan notes in “Once Again Teachers are First Responders:”

“Keeping a functional learning community together is job #1. Meaning: every child, K-12, who is out of school involuntarily, knows for sure that the adults who have been his/her teachers, playground supervisors or joke-around buddies in the hallway, still care. Staying connected and checking in matter much more than reviewing fractions or watching a dissection video.

“Online learning can never adequately replace public schools and teachers. In such a desperate time, closing public schools due to this pandemic is showing Americans how reliant we are upon those schools to fulfill, not just an educational purpose, but the real social and emotional needs of children and families.

“We’re left with stark revelations about this country’s shortcomings, while at the same time we witness the heroism of teachers and staff who care for all children at this dark time. It is that caring and love that have always been the hallmark of what teaching and public schools have been all about. It is and will continue to be what saves public education and the teaching profession.

“This crisis will not throw students into a future of nothing but online learning. It will instead remind parents and students of how much their public schools and teachers mean to them.

“Or, as American television producer, television and film writer, and author @shondarhimes lamented on Twitter: been homeschooling a 6-year old and 8-year old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year. Or a week.

“We must have hope for the future, hope for our democracy, and the great and enduring role of teachers and brick-and-mortar schools, which are temporarily closed.”

John Thompson describes a professional development session he attended with other educators in Oklahoma that offered helpful advice about helping students overcome trauma. But he then discusses the real world of students who are exposed to murder and violence, and the good advice seems painfully inadequate. What is needed? More counselors, social workers, psychologists, more resources in schools that are not available now to support students who have had traumatic experiences.

Good advice is cheap. Resources to confront trauma are dear and unavailable.

(FORGIVE MY SENIOR MOMENT–BEING SO UPSET WITH THE DAY’S NEWS, I MISTAKENLY PLACED ST. PAUL IN THE WRONG STATE, WHEN I KNOW IT IS ONE OF THE TWIN CITIES OF MINNESOTA. I HAVE LEARNED TO OWN MY MISTAKES.)

The teachers of St. Paul, Minnesota, are on strike. Their number one demand is the expansion of mental health services and counseling for their students. The #Red4Ed movement continues, as teachers become first-line protectors of their students.

Teachers and support staff in Saint Paul, Minnesota, are on strike for the first time since 1946.

The union says students need more counseling and mental health support than the district and current staff can provide.

The strikers are demanding a mental health team at every school. The team would include social workers, psychologists, nurses, and behavior intervention specialists, in numbers proportional to the number of students in the school.

Despite marathon bargaining sessions over the weekend, the district made no real movement on the core issues. The union rejected the district’s last-minute offer to call off the strike and take the contract dispute to arbitration instead.

“There are so many kids with so many issues,” said middle school teacher Leah Van Dassor. “Kids are depressed because they have problems at home. They don’t have anyone to talk to.”

St. Paul Federation of Educators (SPFE) Vice President Erica Schatzlein sees a wide range of needs in her work as an elementary teacher with English language learners.

“A students that had a parent pass away, instead of acting out, becomes completely withdrawn,” she said. A newly homeless student “has a meltdown, and I have to evacuate the classroom.”

In addition to its mental health demands, the union is asking for more bilingual teacher’s aides and limits on class size for special education.

“It’s too bad that all these important social services fall on the shoulder of the schools, but they do,” said Van Dassor, who is also on the bargaining team. “We have to try to figure out a way to help.”