Family night and websites

Last week my daughter’s school graciously held what they affectionately call Family Night – you may have heard of something similar in your areas. It’s a night hosted by the school where the family of students is invited to explore, participate in some sort of assembly-type presentation (topics vary), and then visit various classrooms that have games and activities for the children. I’m sure you all get the premise here – let’s make an effort to get parents and students involved with learning outside of the regular classroom. GREAT! Except… well it’s never so great. We go to nearly every event like this – I am a firm believer in parent involvement in education and think the more we support our schools the better off our children will be. So on these occasion when I am handed an invitation from a very excited 7 year old I take the opportunity to strut my parent stuff. This invitation (as well as the sign board outside of the school that displays reminders on upcoming events) stated that family night would begin at 5 pm. So being a punctual person we showed up right at 5 pm. Apparently that was more of a suggestion than an actual start time. Now in an effort to make sure we were on time and there was nothing we need to bring, etc. I consulted the schools website. There again – Family night starts at 5 pm. So when we arrived there were some other punctual parents there wandering aimlessly around and wondering, much as I was, were we in the wrong place? Had the time changed and no one told us? The few teachers and volunteers that were there simply stared at us and offered little encouragement or explanation of what was going on. So we went out to the playground and played for a bit – periodically coming into the building to see if perhaps anyone else was going to show up. Eventually they did – 1 hour later. Nothing was even started until 6 pm. Now I don’t know about you but poor planning and tardiness are huge pet peeves I have. If you invite some one somewhere at an appointed time – please note none of the time information I received said 5-ish or around 5 or somewhere between 5pm and the next morning – then I believe you need to be there and ready to roll at said time. Now I wonder why parents don’t want to get involved with school activities? Hmmmm… There was a complete lack of direction, very poor planning, no enthusiasm from the staff and teachers participating. It was pretty much just a humdrum event with all the wonder of a deflated balloon and I was very sadly disappointed – again. You may be wondering why I have websites listed there in my title and by golly I’ll tell ya. Isn’t the goal of a company – in this case the school – having a website to relay information about the organization? Upcoming events? Important things you might want or need to know about the organization? Have you looked at your school’s websites? I do believe there will be an interesting post following to discuss the lack of use of social media to relay information to parents. Do any of you have (or are) teachers that tweet? Update your personal teacher websites on your school’s webpage? Stay tuned…

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Gardens for our schools

Hello faithful followers, new friends, and those of you just taking a peek. Today I would like to tell you all about the WONDERFUL IDEA I have and perhaps get some feedback from you on how we can make this happen…
A little background – I live in Northern New Mexico in a little community called Farmington. Okay maybe it’s not so little anymore – current population stats put us at about 50,000! There are 19 schools in the district and according to the Farmington Municipal Schools website (http://district.fms.k12.nm.us/) they currently service over 10,000 students. Now that is a lot of hungry kiddos to feed every day. Some of you may have read my previous tirade regarding school lunches (https://mama4education.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/school-lunch-would-you-eat-it) and so are familiar with my general outlook on school lunches – in case you didn’t read it rest assured I detest the school lunch. Oh and by the way I have still heard nothing from the district nutritionist or the company that supplies my daughter’s school lunches in regard to nutrition information – that right there tells me something’s not kosher with the food (get it kosher… buh-dum-bum). This has helped me come up with the WONDERFUL IDEA… Each school in the district can have its own garden. Imagine it – fresh seasonal veggies at our children’s fingertips which they helped grow and care for themselves! Talk about a win-win. The district saves money on food and our children learn something about sustainability, healthy eating choices, and the environment.
In this area every school has a HUGE amount of real estate – most of it dedicated to grass that gets watered year round. Why not utilize this existing wasted space to do something really great for our kids and for the environment. according to the Center for Disease Control (cdc.gov) childhood obesity has nearly doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. We have become a fast-food nation (25% of Americans eat fast food every day according to pamf.org) and many children are not getting nutrition from fruits and vegetables other juices and french fries. Gardening not only provides healthy food options, it also provides physical activity and instills in growers a sense of pride and accomplishment. These are things I certainly want my children to have!

So how do we go about getting this implemented? I suppose getting in touch with the district will be the first step – perhaps there is a reason unbeknownst to us average joes that so much land is wasted around the playground. I will let you know what I find out.
Please feel free to steal my idea and implement it in your communities and neighborhoods – let me know if any of you out there have success. Here’s to raising healthy, happy, industrious kids!

facebook in the classroom

Good afternoon readers – today we will be discussin the use of facebook and other social media in the classroom.  Do you think that it would be effective for teachers to utilize social media as part of the learning experience for students in the K-12 grades?  Personally I think K-5 really needs to stay away from the over-use of technology so that children do get that fundamental foundation in skills such as reading and writing.  But what about our older kids – I don’t see many these days over the age of 12 who do not have access to or their own internet capable device whether is be a smart phone, tablet, or computer.  Can a teacher utilize social media to reach out to students and make the learning experience more engaging?  I don’t know about you all but there are lots of things that I was made to learn in school that I have never applied to “real life”.  I’ve never been asked to write in cursive only at work or had any cause to utilize the pythagorean theorem to get me through the daily grind.  By allowing children to utilize the technology available at their fingertips as an integral part of their education can have a variety of effects on students and their interactions with the world they actually live in.  If students find that their teachers are available via academic networking similar to socila networking they may find that level of accessibilty to far outreach any face-to-face interaction they can have in the classroom.  Connection can often be the key to success for students to learn a new skill or idea and not much interestes students more these days than the constant electronic interactions they have with their peers.  Social media can teach collaboration as well.

Education from mom’s POV

Welcome to my blog where we are going to explore some questions that I have dealt with as a parent new to the public education system in New Mexico.  I would imagine many of these topics can apply to any of the 50 states although as most of you know every state is different – different standards, different curriculum, different rules, different lunches, different criteria for their teachers.  This is not only different from state to state but from county to county, township to township, and in some cases city to neighboring city!  As a parent “new” to the public education scene I had nothing but my own memories of public education to go by as to what I should expect for my daughter when she entered the wonderful world of education.  Little did I know things had changed drastically since I was in school (we won’t mention how long ago that was!).  I was next to illiterate as well as ignorant on the daily workings of an elementary school classroom and in all reality what it was my child would be learning once she got there.  Frankly the whole system throws me for a loop – thus this blog.  We will explore together the ins and outs of public education and what we can do as parents to help our children be successful in their educational endeavors.