Facebook for Teachers?

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Craig recently posted his thoughts on the state of Missouri banning teachers and students from interacting on social media sites. I wrote about that today for WORLDMag.com.

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As Brittany Smith reported earlier this week, the state of Missouri has passed a law prohibiting teachers from using Facebook and other social media to privately contact their students. The intent behind the law is the prevention of inappropriate relationships between children and teachers. The law states, “Teachers cannot establish, maintain or use a work-related website unless it is available to school administrators and the child’s legal custodian, physical custodian or legal guardian. Teachers also cannot have a non work-related website that allows exclusive access with a current or former student.”

As you can well expect, there are people with good arguments on both sides of the issue. But the problem, as usual, is government legislation over personal responsibility. Three years ago, knowing he had experience in social media, the administration of my husband’s previous school asked him to share his thoughts on social media as an educational tool. In response, Craig drafted a document that was later adopted as part of the school’s social media policy. Here’s what he had to say:

  • Never initiate the friend, wall-to-wall, inbox, birthday, or other functions; always be a responder to students, but even then, refrain from excess posting on their pages.
  • Unless you have a pre-determined set of relationship criteria (i.e. males only, females only, etc.), do not discriminate among friend requests; accept all or accept none.
  • Always maintain a degree of formality despite the informal medium; keep titles (Mr., Mrs., Miss) and try to relate with as similar a classroom tone as possible.
  • Realize that conversations you may have in other networks may be privy to those in your network unless you set up different access levels. Use discretion, as you are exposing students to your college/post-college discussions and topics, which may or may not be helpful to your students.
  • Use good punctuation and grammar whenever possible; avoid slang and model excellence as an educator in your communication.
  • Do not post pictures of yourself that are questionable, sensual, or ridiculous; if other friends include you in such pictures on their profiles, ask to remove them or untag yourself from them.
  • Do not delete inbox or wall-to-wall conversations; always keep a record.

For more, read Craig’s “On Teachers, Students, and Social Media.”

What’s your take? Is Facebook a friend or foe in the world of education?

Ping Ponged

Dear Family,

The ping pong table in our back room has a primary purpose I'd like to tell you about. You see, there are little balls and paddles that are supposed to be used in conjunction with said table. You hit the balls back and forth, using the table as a spring board.

It's impossible to do this type of activity when the table is covered with books, craft projects, and yesterday's forgotten glass of chocolate milk. After all, those are just little plastic balls, for crying out loud. They don't possess natural ability to scale mountains or climb out of mole hills.

I am one stack away from actually seeing a complete green surface again. It would be nice to be able to use it for said purpose.

I might even be willing to play a round or two tonight if I don't have to clear it off first…

Sincerely,

Mom

2nd Day in the 2nd Grade

http://media.salemwebnetwork.com/godtube/resource/mediaplayer/5.6/player.swf

That goofy song will always be stuck in my head the first week of school every year. It’s the price of being Veggie Tales aware I suppose.

So the first official day:

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School days are going to be super long for the girls because Craig has to be there early and leave late. I went ahead and took them yesterday so they wouldn’t have to get there at 6:30, but I’m pretty sure they are going with him tomorrow and that means rolling out of here by 7.

Aside from our backpack situation (how many can you count in this photo?), we had a clothing emergency as well. While I thought I was prepared and had multiple things for each kid (and I have it all on that master spreadsheet to prove it) the one major thing I failed to do was to have Maddie try anything on. I had everyone else do that, but just thought everything I got her would for sure fit. I was for sure wrong. We found one thing we had that would work (it just takes one, right?) and avoided a catastrophe of middle-school proportions, but I could see the disappointment radiating off her face. As soon as I got home I placed yet another Lands’ End order for three more shirts for her. It takes them a long time to do the logos, so she’s stuck in the one shirt you see above for the next couple of weeks. I think she will survive, but barely.

Today was our first home day. I was mentally geared up for a full day of work and discovered that I did not overshoot the estimate. It did take us the entire day. One thing we have to nail down for the future is when I’m actually available to help any given kid at any given time. I thought I made it pretty clear this morning when I said I’d be starting with Millie and working my way up. I thought I explained they needed to work on what they could on their own until I got around to them. That explanation did not negate their need to all call out, “Mo-o-o-o-o-m-m-m-m-m!!!” over and over and over again. That little number has got to change.

But other than that, our first two days went pretty well.

Initial observations:

  • This house is pretty darn quiet when it’s just me, Boomer, and Peaches.
  • I don’t really mind the quiet at all.
  • I did have a moment in which I felt sorry for myself for being alone all day.
  • That moment passed.
  • I felt guilty for taking a 30-minute nap in my too-quiet house.
  • I need to make a master spreadsheet of all I’d actually like to accomplish during my 16-hours/week.
  • Doing school with my kids from 8-3 every day is pretty much one of the reasons we ended up sending two kids to school last year.
  • Doing school with my kids from 8-3 today was tolerable because I knew that tomorrow they would be in school again and I would be able to punch on my to-do list then.
  • The iPhone has to be one of our best educational investments EVER. Calculator, Bible, Timer, Memory Work Songs, Dictionary, and SO MUCH MORE. Awesome.

One last observation: I need to stop staying up this late because even though I’m not driving my kids to school in the morning, I still need to get up to help them get ready and out the door. If I don’t go to sleep soon I’ll have to take another 30-minute nap tomorrow and I’ll feel guilty about it right after feeling sorry for myself for being alone and just before not minding the quiet at all.

We’re two days in so far. And so far…so good.

Gulp!

I've spent the past 6 months with this upcoming school year somewhere in the back of my brain. Embedded right there beside it has been the thought, "This will be no big deal." No big deal because I've done this homeschool thing for a long time, so having them home only half of the week should be no big deal.

After recently sitting in on 2 parent orientations, organizing a bajillion uniform pieces on a Google doc spreadsheet, combing over four different book lists and supplies necessary lists over and over and over, and getting a fresh look of exactly what IS required of me on the days my kids are home, I'm finally realizing: This is going to be a very big deal.

It took 3 solid hours tonight to finalize exactly what needs to go to school with the girls tomorrow and make sure it's all in their backpacks. I think we have six or seven backpacks going tomorrow because the nice rolling backpacks I bought from Lands' End are woefully undersized. I never realized wheeled backpacks came in such small sizes. We've used them already for a trip, so I can't really justify sending them back, nor can I justify dropping another chuck of change on new backpacks, so most of them have their heaviest books loaded in the wheeled backpacks and their lighter books loaded in their on-the-back-packs. They are educational sherpas.

I think I've also finally realized how much hope I've placed on the two days/week I will have "alone." I made a mental list of just what all I'd like to get done on those days and that list includes but is not limited to: menu planning/coupon clipping/grocery shopping/house sparkling cleaning/writing deadlines met way ahead of time/insightful awesome blogging planned, written, and scheduled ahead/room painting/closet organizing/life perfection all followed by fresh cookies on the table when the crew gets home on those days.

Verbalizing just about half of that today made me realize what a joke all of that is. It isn't exactly a joke to think I can do some of it, but to expect that I will suddenly turn into the best homemaker who ever walked on the planet just because I will have about 16 hours/week all to myself is laughable.

At any rate, we're jumping in with both feet tomorrow morning at 6:30am. Here's hoping we'll see you on the other side.

Speaking of Tweens

Weren’t we just speaking of tweens?

I randomly came across this today:

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What is it? It’s the three-year discipleship curriculum for pre-teen and teen girls on the “foundational principles of biblical womanhood—and so much more.”

It’s written by Susan Hunt and I couldn’t be more excited to actually see it in person.

When we moved to Oklahoma City, it was with the two-fold purpose of serving Veritas Classical Academy and also helping launch a PCA church in downtown OKC. We’re excited about both things, but being involved in a church plant means being patient. Very very patient. Moving here to be part of a church plant also means we’re not already plugged in somewhere else so we’ve been floating around this summer and will continue to do that until City Pres launches worship services, probably around next spring.

I’m a little afraid our kids are getting lost in the shuffle. School starting this week is going to help, and the Bible classes they will be taking are going to be fantastic. But I wanted something a bit more intentional for them outside of school. I think this could very well be the thing I’m looking for, at least for my older two.

Of course, the stuff at Children Desiring God also looks awesome, as does the worldview stuff from Summit.

Anyone else out there done “Homeschool Sunday School?”

Tweens, Still

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The tween years. They continue to perplex us, amaze us, frustrate us, overwhelm us, and drive us to our knees. And just when we think we finally have one stage figured out, here comes another. Feels like holding on tight to a pole in a tornado and just hoping we can hang on long enough to get through it.

The other night there was an incident. We were away from home, but at a trusted location. I excused said tween from the family for a few minutes and left her near the van while I went back in for the rest of our things. Before I walked away, I handed her my phone and told her to take a picture or two while she refocused herself.

When I saw her again five minutes later she presented me with this.

It was a sweet moment and it passed, to be followed later by more turbulence. But to be followed later still by more sweet. Such is the stage we’re in and I’m glad for this little visual reminder of what has been and what will be again.

Grace doesn’t take away the pain, but it does provide hope as we weather the path together.

And weather it together we will.

What about Barbie?

Today I posted on the long-popular, sometimes-debated, oft-duplicated Barbie doll for WORLDMag.com. You can agree with me (like some did) or you can roll your eyes in my general direction (like others did). You can choose. Just be intentional with your choice. *wink*

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Shortly (or so it seemed) after we had one daughter, the next thing we knew we had four of them. Four girls means four times the opportunities to bring Barbie, the plastic dream queen, into our home with all her luggage . . . or should I say baggage?

Our oldest daughter received her first official Barbie doll when she was 5 years old. She hadn’t asked for it, nor did she seem particularly attached to it, at least not any more than she was to the other plastic paraphernalia she acquired that year. This made Barbie an easy sneak-out-the-back-door item.

Why did we do it? I wouldn’t say I had totally developed a complete rationale against all-things-Barbie, but I did have a sense that Barbie stood for a lot of cultural misrepresentations with which I didn’t necessarily want to bombard my girls. So out she went.

Soon we had another 5-year-old on the scene. This one actually requested a Barbie for her birthday. This was right around the time I found a new line of soft-bodied cloth dolls with proportional anatomy that were about the same height as Barbie. We bought two.

My second-oldest didn’t mind. Granted, these dolls were harder to dress than traditional Barbies but were still fun to play with and-get this-they looked like young girls, not magazine pin-ups.

Fast-forward five more years. We still have a toy bin filled with old-fashioned Barbie clothes and we still have the two soft body dolls. We also have one actual Barbie doll, another unasked-for gift. I think she is Princess Barbie, and she has managed to pay her rent and secure a spot in the bin.

We have some ground rules for Barbie: She has to remain clothed while living in our house. And Ken is not invited over . . . ever.

Last week, Terry Mattingly wrote an interesting article for GetReligion.org about “God, Barbies, and girlie girls.” He didn’t just stop with Barbie but follows her down the path of her natural progression. He wrote:

“Will you buy your daughter a Barbie doll? Other questions follow in the wake of this one, linked to clothes, self-esteem, cellphones, makeup, reality TV shows and the entire commercialized princess culture.”

These are great questions to ask. I’ve had conversations with more than one mom who, after battling over the bikini question with her teenage daughters for years, finally gave in. It wasn’t the battle they wanted to fight anymore.

I’m inclined to think that if the bikini question is a battle at 17, some key conversations on modesty and the heart were missed while the girls were 7.

Mattingly pointed out that the problem with Barbie is not uniquely religious. He quotes writer Naomi Schaefer Riley, who said:

“Mothers are divided on this whole issue and some can get very upset just talking about it. Yet others are not upset. You’ll see all kinds of women, religious and non-religious, who are taking their 6-year-old daughters to get manicures and to get their hair done, trying to look pretty just like the girls on TV and in all the magazines.

“Then there are women who are the total opposite of all that. They may be evangelical Christians or they may be feminists, but they see this as an attack on what they believe.”

Riley went on to say that though this commercialized, highly sexualized culture has a dominating presence in our society, the real question for us now is whether or not we as parents are willing to dare challenge it.

Philippians 4:8 provides us with a nice grid for running the ways of our culture through:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

I’m not saying Barbie can’t fit through that grid, but our daughters need to see discernment modeled for them. Even over toys. Even at the age of 5.

 

Explore Oklahoma

I’d love to do more exploring of where we live now. As it is, and this sounds like a complaint, but it’s been too dang hot to do much other than just be in the house. And as our latest electric bill can attest, we’ve been in our house an awful lot lately. Ouchie.

My parents came over last week for a couple of days. On their last day we went to Pops Soda Shop. It was fun in an over-priced, touristy Route 66 kind of way.

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Actually, their wall-o-color coded soda bottles was totally awesome and it spurred a fairly detailed, purely speculative conversation between us on what happens when a tornado comes through the area. I don’t think I’d want to be in Pops when that happens.

They have this giant soda bottle out front that apparently is lit up at night, but we saw it at the peak of its 107 degree glory:

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My girls obliged by standing in front of it, but they were happy to get out of the direct sun again immediately after.

Our summers in the past have been marked by chronic pool overdose. I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve been swimming this summer. That makes me sort of sad. The pool in our neighborhood is one step above pathetic. It stayed open for 5 weeks between 1-6 on Monday-Friday only. There isn’t an ounce of shade or a single chair, so you can imagine how hot the concrete is around it. Sometimes they only had one lifeguard show up so they would close half the pool. They didn’t require adults to be present, so it was overloaded with unsupervised kids. Good times, good times.

I’m tempted to find a clearance sale on a decent above ground pool option for next summer. If you hear of any good deals be sure to let me know. I have just the shaded spot for it.

Anyway, all that to say this: I’m sure Oklahoma has a lot of awesome things for us to discover and we will, just as soon as the heat lifts a bit and being outside isn’t the survival chore it is right now.

Maybe sometime in November.