What is poetry all about?

Here’s a classic take on poetry from the late Robin Williams:

Smart Online Practices @ Home Over Spring Break

Jump to about 3:30 for some practical suggestions around safe online practices at home over spring break. Very interesting discussion.

The Future of the Media

This story makes me sad, but these are unavoidable economic realities. I love newspapers, but I don’t subscribe and haven’t purchased one in years. How do you feel about the demise of printed media in this country? Add your voice in the comments below.

Photography Field Trip

The following is an auto-generated presentation by Google Photos. They’re not all pics I would have selected, but they give a sense of some of the sights we shot today.

Is ‘Funner’ a real word?

Is ‘funner’ a real word? When one of my students insisted that it is – because it appears in the dictionary – I pointed out the all-important ‘Informal’ designation. Just because a word has entered colloquial discourse doesn’t mean it can be used freely in formal writing.

funner-define-funner-at-dictionary-com-clipular

Source: Dictionary.com

Smartphones do it ALL.

Take a look at this 1991 advertisement for Radio Shack. How many of these devices does your smartphone render obsolete? (And check out the size of the computer hard drive!)

2014-01-16-radioshackad

Beware of Fake News! #DigCit

Device Locks up Student Phones

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Digital Citizenship @ Home: Best Practices

We live in exciting times. Technology continues to advance rapidly, changing our lives in countless ways. In education, we see the tremendous potential of technology to expand student access to information, help students understand concepts, and empower them to represent their learning creatively. Yet we remain aware that technology must be utilized thoughtfully and strategically in order to maximize profit and minimize potential harm.

Carver Christian High School looks at technology first and foremost through the lens of our Christian worldview. We believe that technology can be used as a powerful tool to fulfill the mandates Christ left his followers: to communicate truth, build relationships, and restore what is broken in our world. Just as Christ calls us to be in the world but not of it, we choose to critically utilize technology rather than completely retreat from it. This critical engagement requires a comprehensive understanding of digital citizenship: the rights and responsibilities we all balance as we live, work, and play online.

How can teachers and parents help our students make this transition into responsible digital citizenship? I’ve been thinking a lot about this question this year, as I wear the two hats of junior high teacher and junior high parent for the first time. In the course of many enjoyable discussions I’ve had with parents on this topic, I’ve been reminded that the same conversations and decisions are being made in virtually every household in our school community.

I mentioned that I am wearing the hat of Grade 7 parent for the first time this year. The experience of simultaneously teaching the skills of digital citizenship to Grade 7-9 students and then setting guidelines for technology use in my own home has given me some unique insights and perspectives. I remain as convinced as ever that the teaching of digital citizenship (and the management of technology) must be a responsibility shared between school and home.

So how can we best manage technology in our homes? Just about every parent in our society must wrestle with this challenge on some level. In the spirit of partnership between school and home, I’d like to attempt to personally answer this question by sharing some of the practices that my wife and I are putting into place with our own boys. By doing so, I’m making myself vulnerable: some observers may decide we’ve gone too far, while others may feel we haven’t gone far enough. Just the same, I want to continue this all-important conversation around the management of technology and the gradual transition of digital responsibility that every parent must carefully and prayerfully navigate.

Here they are: my recommended practices for technology management in the home.

*Note: Remember that my current context is two boys, aged 10 and 12. Depending on the age of your child, you’ll want to incrementally adjust these guidelines in age-appropriate ways. But the spirit of each best practice remains the same.

  1. Require that homework be done at the dining room table, or a similar location in the home with maximum visibility. While your child works on their devices, try to occupy yourself in the same physical space so that you have a good idea of what is occupying their attention (without constantly hovering over their shoulder). Once normalized, this will reinforce the mental discipline of staying on task.
  2. No devices in bedrooms at any time. This simple rule solves a host of potential problems, including sleep deprivation. With your child, agree on when and where their devices will be deposited before bed time.
  3. Fight for screen-free dinners that involve the whole family eating together at the table. This is the most valuable and meaningful connection time of the day. In busy families it can be a real challenge to eat together, but fight for it. We believe it’s critical to the health of your family.
  4. Put a high priority on eyeball time. Make sure to plan at least one non-screen family activity per week – ideally, one per day. These are activities that your family can do together that don’t involve technology. Board games and walks in the neighbourhood are simple examples of this that work well for our family.
  5. Schedule a monthly or weekly device review with your child. Make sure the spirit is one of interest and partnership instead of investigation: more curious friend, less intelligence officer. Which games are they playing? Who do they like to chat with? Which sites are their favourites? Which photos are they posting? The goal here is not to root out objectionable content, but to be informed and involved. Let your child know this is coming, and set the stage (I recommend Tim Hortons) in order to make this a relationship-building and positive family ritual.
  6. Use age-appropriate parent controls on devices. For junior students especially, make sure you are fully in charge of which apps are being installed and utilized. For my Grade 7 son, we use the powerful parent controls on his iPod to disallow access to social media platforms, whitelist websites, limit app installations, etc. These boundaries will likely evolve as he grows older and shows more maturity, but we will do so thoughtfully and intentionally.

Did any of these practices resonate with you? Do you have your own family practices to recommend, or questions about anything I’ve shared above? Please continue this conversation by engaging further at tcavey@carverchristian.org or @MisterCavey on Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you.

Tim Cavey

Tech Lead, Carver Christian High School

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