Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

In the classroom

Text Messages in Class Saving Lives

October 20, 2011

At first thought, the idea of cell phones in class seems like a bad idea. I mean how realistic is it that a teen would rather listen to why the War of 1812 started over playing a rousing game of Hanging with Friends (a game that takes an unconventional approach to hangman) with his friend on his trusty iPhone?

And in addition to making games accessible during instruction, cell phone use in class has been in the hot seat for lending a hand to cheating and fostering distractions.

However, there is one fact about phones in class that I challenge anyone to try to refute; they can prove extraordinarily useful in the event of emergencies.

So You Want to be a Teacher... Better Become Technologically Savvy

October 14, 2011

Recently, I have been advocating just how important it is for students to develop technological acumen and to become experts with e-mail, social networking and software applications all in the hopes that they fare OK in this still doomed economy. But what about teachers?

Will individuals who received their master’s in education find themselves not getting that second interview because they have limited experience with SMART Boards? Will they not even be called in for the first interview because their resume doesn’t say something like, “Piloted an iPad educational program while student teaching?”

Is WiFi Threatening Students Health?

October 4, 2011

First we were told to not to stand in front of microwaves while they were on for fear that the rays could cause fertility problems. Then we were informed that talking on your cell phone incessantly upped your chances for developing cancer. But now are we really being told not to send our kids to schools that have WiFi?

It would appear so.

All Aboard My Education Nostalgic Train

September 20, 2011

I have a confession to make:  I am one-half Russian, one-fourth German and one-half nerd.

When I think about all the students who get to buy new notebooks and pens (Velocity for sure), sit through hour-and-a-half lectures about how one finds the moral fortitude to challenge company policies,  or enjoy a 40-minute high school period about symbolism in “Emma,” I get nostalgic. While others might actually miss the high school prom, beer pong, and formals instead (and yes I miss that, too), call me crazy, but I actually miss the learning part more.

In the spirit of nostalgia (and as I sit here fantasizing about what I would be doing at 2:30 p.m.

Back to School: I Can Smell the Sharpened iPads

September 6, 2011

In addition to getting to know new students, teachers and school layouts (for all those incoming middle and high school students), the tens of thousands of students who are headed back to school this week will also be greeted by new education technology innovations. From SMART Boards and iPads to Kindles and online educational systems, back to school is bound to be more interesting than ever before.

This year for example, the Millville Public School District is amping up its use of computer software and handheld devices to monitor how students are taught. Specifically, the McREL Power Walkthrough technology, installed on a range of handheld devices, makes it possible for administrators and teachers to sit in a classroom and quickly create a database on how a class is run.

Should You Go Through the Third Degree When Trying to Visit a School? Absolutely

August 23, 2011

Here are some unnerving stats for you: 160,000 kids stay home every day because of bullying; 8.2 million students a year suffer from the hands of bullying; 739,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S. roam about; and school enrollment is expected to grow at nine to 10 percent between now and 2018.

So what is the common thread between all these figures? That finding the right school security technology is paramount to finding the most educated teachers and the most-up-to-date technology teaching supplements.

To Friend or Not to Friend your Teacher

August 4, 2011

It definitely makes you think twice when you hear that high school freshmen are “friends” with their teachers on Facebook, but I bet it also makes you think twice at the thought that this practice could become illegal?

This week, news spread like wildfire that Missouri signed into law that it is now illegal for teachers to be “friends” with students on any social networking sites that allow for private communications. That means Missourians can say good-bye to friending their teachers on Facebook to see what their husbands/wives look like or following their students on Twitter to see what they are actually doing in their spare time (since it’s clearly not homework assignments).

The law does provide a clause though that while teachers and students can’t be friends, they can interact publicly on walls of fan pages.  

Spark Notes: The Good and the Ugly

July 19, 2011

Last week, I referred to Spark Notes, one of the most popular study guides for students as they navigate through English classes, as a “cheater’s best friend.”

After all, before your big AP Lit paper is due, it is pretty easy to go to, type in themes for “Jane Eyre,” and come up with a rocking thesis that the novel is all about the quest to be loved.

But talking about how Spark Notes can be a catalyst for cheating got me thinking further about the online educational platform and whether I am being too hard on it.

Here’s my dilemma.

Has School Plagiarism Gotten a Whole Lot Easier?

July 14, 2011

Let me paint you a picture: Fifteen years ago, if high school freshmen were looking for a little “extra help” on their English papers about deconstructing social hierarchy in “The Great Gatsby,” in order to get that help (and by help, I mean cheat), they would have to dig up their older sister’s paper that she wrote four years earlier on the same topic and copy the passages they liked… by hand.

A process that was tiring, though it got the job done (if, of course, you had a different teacher than your sister).

But, fast forward 15 years later and cheating has gotten a whole lot easier and a whole lot faster.

I recently chatted with my fellow TMC co-worker Rich Steeves, who was a middle school teacher for nine years before venturing to TMC, about school plagiarism and how technology in the classroom has facilitated this frowned upon behavior.

Changing my Tune: iPads Making Positive Dent in Schools

July 12, 2011

My initial gut reaction when I hear the terms “iPads” and “school” together is: “What happened to good ol’ lectures on blackboards and scribbled notes in black composition books?” I mean, at a certain point isn’t too much technology in the schools, homes, workplace – insert anywhere – a bad thing?

But after seeing this video clip on ABC below, I have had a change of heart.

This video follows seven-year-old Zachary who was clinging to his life a year ago after he experienced a fluke bicycle accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury, a two-week coma, a four-month rehabilitation program and a learning disability he did not have before the accident.  Accordingly, he had to enroll at High Road Academy in Maryland, a school for children with learning disorders.