Wednesday, November 09, 2011


by Mike Kaechele

Just a quick note about the teacher conferences that I went to for my own children. Last year my son was in a pilot class that got to use iPod touches. This year they get nothing. How does a student go from using technology as a learning tool to not getting access? Not very well.

My son loves science and hands on learning. This year he has done very little of it. They just started science this past week and will not start social studies until second semester. Why? The teacher said it was because the district mandates only math and ELA until after the MEAP (our state standardized test).

I mentioned that ELA in particular could be learned in the context of science and social studies since it is skills based. The teacher didn't seem to like my suggestions and got a bit defensive. (Yeah, I'm that parent).

How do you all advocate for your own children's quality of education effectively?


  1. The idea that science, math, and English are separate subjects is antiquated. People want students to be engaged in the process of learning; however, they demand that the content be stripped of its authenticity in order to learn the parts. A bit paradoxical, don't you think? If your son is in grades 5th-8th, then perhaps he might like to try an amBook ( Check it out. I think that we live in a transitional time, not just in technology but in how we perceive teaching and learning.

  2. I just went to my son's conference for his AT class last night. They know I am a teacher and teacher tech trainer, so they are always super defensive whenever we have to I always get "we have laptops now" (but use them for skill/drill programs), they are learning powerpoint (my son has been doing presentations for years on open office, google docs, etc), they are learning "microsoft word"....double sigh...we haven't had microsoft in a minute...not since we can use free open source products like open office and google docs....which brings me to the conversation I had with the computer teacher who berated my son because we don't have microsoft office on any of our computers. She was upset when he pulled up his assignment on google docs and told her he could download it as a doc, this was "unacceptable" to her and if I can't "afford" microsoft products he can stay afterschool or come before school to do the assignments there...I am opting for a phone conference for the next one, because as an educator its so difficult for me to interact with my son's teachers. He is in 5th grade and gets pulled out and travels to a different school (another set of teachers) for the AT program (which frankly the curriculum is what I do in my regular ed class) so I have to many years to go and need a solid future plan of attack...sorry for the long rant..

  3. I'm that parent too. The last conversation was along the lines of 'I can't teach science because my kids can't write sentences.' 'But can't they write sentences about butterfly life cycles? I mean the sentence has to be about something.'

    I don't know what else to do except pray you get a good one. I'm on the school council but it doesn't seem to do much.

  4. I'm that parent AND I work in the same school my son is attending. I work to actively change our system from within, and subversively through interactions with my son's teachers during parent-teacher interactions.

    If you come up with some good advice, please let us know.

  5. R Lynn, Deb, and David,
    Thanks for sharing your stories. It is just hard for me knowing there are better ways for students to learn to watch my own kids do worksheets instead of some kinds of hands-on learning...

  6. Grr, as a parent of 3 kids in primary - who rarely use technology, and when they do it's so basic it's pointless, it ticks me off to hear this. I have zero expectations that they are even interested, let alone have a desire to change practice. The solution, build an epic open world for parents and kids - do get all those ISTE NETs skills and XP. So we built Open to all. The kids generally work 3/4 years ahead of the grade expectation in school, and all of them hit every one of the NETs in their first week, as shown in the Guild site above. So we're asking parents and kids to invest $15 in the game, and donate what they can in time/money to help fund the server. We are almost 100 kids and 24/7, so really, as a parent, I don't care what the school fumbles about with, my kids are connected to something much more useful, and have access to some amazing teachers when ever they like.

    As a parent, I get so tired of this 'but does technology work' rubbish. It avoids the issue that many teachers are ineffective in the 'traditional mode', repeating the same set of lessons year in year out. That ain't 10 years of experience, that 1 year repeated.

    Put your kids in the Mines, come play with the other kids ... soothes the parent-angst.

  7. I am a teacher in an inner city middle school struggling to stay afloat. I am encouraged to be a 'paperless' instructor without the hardware in place that would enable the students to be successful. The laptop carts that are available have malfunctioning laptops and the software necessary for me to go 'paperless' is not installed, and I cannot install because I don't have administrator level access to change software. Its disheartening that the disparity and segregation of schools exists at such high levels in the 21st century.

  8. @Anonymous

    What are you doing about these problems you are facing? And what do you suggest we do to help?



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