Monday, October 22, 2007

Help Yourself

I love TIVO/DVR. While reading to Joey tonight (Bunnicula!), I was able to tape Heroes. Since I am in my insomniac stage right now (read the sleep disorder entry- I think they are related), I decided to stay up and watch it before going to bed.
If you follow Heroes, I apologize for this slight recap. I am not going to give anything away. Last week though, Micah's cousin mimicked a wrestling move and kept the place she works from being robbed. The police officer tried asking her questions in order to catch the guy. She realized that she couldn't say anything out of fear of him coming back for revenge. See, he's a drug thug who uses fear to keep people from ratting him out. When she wouldn't say anything to incriminate him, the officer shook his head and said, "I can't help a community that won't help itself."
What a powerful thought. We as educators can't help a student who doesn't want help. We can't help our school or even our own community unless they want the change.
But what in education needs help? There are so many elements that need work, so where do we begin? State/Federal government involvement to the point where education is nothing but pushing students towards acing a state test? Character education? Technology education? Meeting the 21st Century needs? Preparing our students to enter the workforce of our own community?
What about the community that doesn't want to be fixed, or the school that thinks they can't change? What about the school that says, "if we change, we lose our federal tax dollars - after all schools that are poor achievers get more money from the government."? What about the parent who doesn't believe an education is worthwhile, that it's all worthless in the end because their child will still be right there in the town, doing the same thing the mom or dad is currently doing? What can we do to inspire them? To help show them the way?
How can we get them to realize that we as educators can only help the student, the school, and the district that wants the help?
How can we get our communities to want to help themselves?

You know, deep thoughts don't help me go to sleep.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sleep and School

This morning on the Today Show they talked about how sleep and the lack of it is an issue for our students. They focused mainly on the teenagers, but I want to share with you my experiences with this issue.
My son, Joey, is 8. He's my pride and joy- no matter how aggravating and wild he can be. We've had problems in the past with behavior that the South Carolina doctors said was ADHD. They asked me about his sleeping habits, and I explained that he was not one who liked to fall asleep and it was usually easier to let him sit in my lap then fight with him about staying in bed. They simply said he was ADHD and told me to try my hardest to make him stay in bed. One friend of mine, a school psychologist, didn't buy the answer, but what could I do?
When we moved to Florida, his behavior became more erratic at school, having a feeding frenzy at night (finally coming off his ADHD drug) and more of a problem going to sleep. His doctor was against it because of his weight, but said he thought maybe Joey needed an increase of his ADHD drug. About a week and half later he had his first seizure.
We were referred to All Children's Hospital. Joey was taken off all drugs until further testing. Poor Mr. Froman dealt with him the best he could. I know we were ready to pull our hair out at home. Even Joey was confused and trying his hardest to make sense of what happened.
They did an EEG in the office and said he had irregular brain waves. They scheduled a 2 night sleep study/EEG test to see what was going on. We came home on Thanksgiving morning thankful that we finally had our answer. Joey was having mini-seizures that you almost couldn't tell were going on. They were like lights were on but nobody was home type deal. Sometimes he'd snap out okay, but other times he'd be confused and wouldn't understand what just happened, so he acted out. At night he was having episodes that if they were closer together would have been a full blown seizure, but instead they were keeping him from getting to the final round of sleep. Because of this disruption of sleep, his body and mind knew there was a problem at night time and he became anxious. He didn't want to go to bed and that's why bedtime was a nightmare for all of us. Seriously- this kid would sometimes not go to bed until 1 AM and that's just because of pure exhaustion taking over.
So now he's on medicine (Depakote, which James Patterson scared me about my son taking in one of his novels) for his seizures and a new pill (Vyvanse) for his ADHD. Then there's a little pill at night that helps him sleep. We're going back in on the 26th of October for another sleep study because it's believed that the previous dosage of medicine is not working. He's been having difficulty sleeping and more irritable at school again. Plus, his friend has told me he likes to stare a lot at school and the doctor thinks he's having more mini-seizures at school.
Why share all this? Well for one, to let you know that if this describes your little pride and joy, you're not alone. A second reason, Joey learned a lot of his ADHD behavior because of his sleep problems. If we had known more about the sleep issues and insisted on a sleep study, he probably would not have had some of the same behavior issues he has now. So if you're a teacher, at the next parent conference with a problem child, ask about the sleep behavior and then recommend that they talk to their doctor. Especially if they also seem to have staring spells during the day.

Friday, October 5, 2007

School Tube

Are you ready for another tube? YouTube is not always accessible for school purposes. TeacherTube is for the teachers. But what about the students? They want to share their creative rights of passage? Where can they go to upload videos that are school approved? Your answer...........SchoolTube! Just a baby now, but look out! I have a good feeling about it!

Staying Connected

A few years ago the only way a teacher could really stay connected was to be a part of a list-serv, attend conferences, read professional journals, maybe join a group online and that basically was about it. Then we were introduced to blogs, and teachers were no longer isolated until conference time, but able to reach out and really start communicating with others. Podasts, wikis, Twitter, and other tools have only enhanced this process.
Now we did have groups online- such as the one I was involved with "I Must Be Crazy- I Teach Middle School", and I did learn a lot from those folks. Great advice, great ideas. But there was little collaboration on projects and ideas.
Then Discovery opened things up with the Discovery Educator Network. I believe Apple had a teacher group first, but not sure. But the DEN (as we lovingly called it), really opened up collaboration, communicatin, and creativity for not just Apple users but all technology literate teachers. I loved the inspiration and power that came from the group of awesome teachers.
But if you are not a member of the DEN, don't have access to unitedstreaming or other Discovery products, what do you do? Well you join either Inspiration, Tech4Learning, Promethean, SMART, Yahoo, or Google's community and connect that way. You can even join any one of the NING groups, such as Karen Seddon's or Classroom 2.0. And now, there's another one that just popped up on my radar. STAR Online. Check it out and see what you think.
With so many choices out there, any and all teachers have a way to stay current on today's topics and trends. Then everyone would know what Digital Literacy and 21st Century Skills mean!

Thursday, October 4, 2007


I am having a hard time keeping quiet. But I promised. So let's play a game. How many of you have checked out Tech4Learning lately? Have you read their new Creative Magazine? Have you clicked on any links that might help you make new connections? What do you think about the site?