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Byrn Stuff
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I figured it might be a good idea to have a thread for collective problem solving and advice, a place where current/former teachers can share experience or benefit from the opinions of others outside the profession.

My first concern:

I've been working with independent reading in my classes for a couple of years now. The success rate varies from semester to semester, but many students comment that they wouldn't read otherwise, so it's at least minimally successful. The goal was to use personal choice to change their attitudes about reading.

This year I piloted a Bring Your Own Device policy where students could read on tablets, classroom computers, and phones. Many students loved it because they could access blogs and magazines on their phones. Others used it as a time to text/tweet. How can I ensure that my students use their personal electronic devices for reading and not communication?

Am I putting the cart before the horse here? I've sometimes wondered if we shouldn't rethink our entire policy on phones and such in the classroom.

4/26/2012 12:07:51 PM

EuroTitToss
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Quote :
"I figured it might be a good idea to have a thread for collective problem solving and advice, a place where current/former teachers can share experience or benefit from the opinions of others outside the profession."


Why not 3 threads?

4/26/2012 12:10:02 PM

Skack
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I concur. Three threads is better.

4/26/2012 12:11:04 PM

Byrn Stuff
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Three threads are better than one

4/26/2012 12:11:29 PM

raiden
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Three threads are better than one.

4/26/2012 12:12:00 PM

LaserSoup
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I wouldn't use tablets or electronic media. There's nothing wrong with those devices it's just that the temptation is too great for some students. I've tried to tutor for the EOG tests to 10+ students at a time and I can't get them to not use calculators. It's not really up to me what they can use but I've always thought that if they could just figure it out on paper first it would help a lot in the long run.

4/26/2012 12:12:30 PM

Byrn Stuff
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Ordinarily, I would agree, but I feel like there are a lots of benefits to reading on those devices.

- hard press and define unfamiliar terms. No more disruption of "What does diaphanous mean?"
- auto bookmarking
- no books to lose, deface, or return late (senior class of 600 had over $9000 in fines)
- carry multiple texts in one
- download/rent media so there's no need to send students from the class or deal with them standing and browsing the class library shelf

4/26/2012 12:16:41 PM

LaserSoup
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^ Actually those are all great points.

4/26/2012 12:19:35 PM

Byrn Stuff
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I read on my Nook Color and on my Razr. I also read blog and news sites every day, so I feel like it's hypocritical of me not to provide them the same opportunities. I don't want to limit it to e-readers because while not all students have those, most have smartphones. It's just that I can't seem to find the proper way to do it, to have them understand "I want you to read not text" and to be able to have that be understood with out constant enforcement/redirection, you know?d


Consolidation:
UJustWait84:
Quote :
"As a teacher, I have to say that coming to TWW for teaching advice is a terrible idea. TERRIBLE"


Disagree. There are lots of us on here. You, me, Smath, Meg, and 0EPI1. Plus, there are lots of people that used to be teachers, have taught/TA'd, etc..

4/26/2012 12:25:00 PM

moonman
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Add me to the list of teachers. I won a grant for 30 iPads for my classes to use, and I have just accepted that there is going to be some off-task behavior that comes with the territory of having such an awesome tool at their disposal. I'll also let the kids use their personal devices if they prefer them to the classroom iPads.

4/26/2012 12:55:06 PM

Smath74
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What cheesy teacher jokes do you use?

i always have my "OMG Mr. Smath has no idea about music" routine...

artists such as "Acorn," "Lewd Chris," and that music style "Double step"

4/26/2012 12:55:58 PM

moonman
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Puns. Lots and lots of puns. The cheesier, the better.

4/26/2012 1:05:22 PM

Byrn Stuff
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So many bad puns.

I pretend to be a narcissist. They think it hilarious when I talk about all my swag.

Also, imitating their slang. "Bob Ewell won't attack Atticus out right because he's not real; he doesn't wanna shoot the ones. Definitely not keeping it a hundred "

4/26/2012 1:13:19 PM

disco_stu
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Quote :
"This year I piloted a Bring Your Own Device policy where students could read on tablets, classroom computers, and phones. Many students loved it because they could access blogs and magazines on their phones. Others used it as a time to text/tweet. How can I ensure that my students use their personal electronic devices for reading and not communication?"


Surely they have to demonstrate that they have read, right? Do they need to do a report or anything on their reading?

I don't see how this is particularly different than it always has been. If they don't have the effort to learn they're not going to use their time productively even if you put a book in their hands.

4/26/2012 1:13:34 PM

Byrn Stuff
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They have logs, but those are mostly a formality. Both they and I know that you can easily write a paragraph reflection whether or not you've read. The actual goal is to get them to actually develop as readers, to have them determine their interests and preferences. And I think effort is determined by interest, accessibility, and a number of other things. As silly as it sounds, they're more likely to read e-texts rather than ink and paper. They're predisposed toward tech, and they're biased against books.

4/26/2012 1:22:55 PM

Meg
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You should try to get a class set. Tons of other teachers have done it. I saw a grant come my way for Nooks but obviously it doesn't really meet my needs.

4/26/2012 1:29:48 PM

disco_stu
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I believe it. Guess I'm saying there's not much you can do about it besides encourage them otherwise to desire to read and more generally to desire to learn.

Personally I think you're screwed because I think that the parents have a much greater impact on their desire to learn than a teacher would and depending on what grade level we're talking about here it's probably too late.

4/26/2012 1:30:21 PM

Smath74
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we have ipad class sets we can check out, but of course good luck getting a set.

4/26/2012 1:30:46 PM

Byrn Stuff
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Meg: We just Apple carts. I haven't played with them yet because I've not attended the training, so i'm not allowed to check them out

Disco: ninth graders. I agree

4/26/2012 1:33:14 PM

wolfpackgrrr
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Quote :
"How can I ensure that my students use their personal electronic devices for reading and not communication?"


You can't. [/thread]

Seriously though, I had a hard enough time keeping my high school students on task in the computer lab where I had the ability to lock their station if they were on non-academic websites. Letting them use their own device is just asking for trouble.

4/26/2012 2:03:30 PM

Smath74
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it's a lot easier to ensure they are on task when they are responsible for creating a tangible product to turn it... managing "free reading" (or whatever trendy name it's being called these days) is a lot harder since they are supposedly reading what they want at their own pace and all that.

4/26/2012 2:08:28 PM

Byrn Stuff
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Damn. So if I don't want to abandon it altogether, I'll have to accept many of them being off task

4/26/2012 2:18:00 PM

wolfpackgrrr
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I mean, if you wanted to be a dick teacher (and this is probably what I would do) if I found them off-task I'd just confiscate their device for the rest of the period and give them a hard copy of Jurassic Park or something to read. But I was also the "hard ass" teacher that would confiscate cell phones in class and give them to the vice principal for the student to pick it up at the end of the day.

4/26/2012 2:21:39 PM

MattJMM2
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Why not have an easy quiz at the end of each class that anyone could answer if they were paying attention and they get a reward like a candy, or a free HW pass, or extra credit on the next test/quiz?

4/26/2012 2:24:31 PM

Doss2k
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Teachers have it hard these days I feel for you guys. Personally I think smartphones should be banned from schools in the first place. If you want your kid to carry a phone give them a basic phone that can only make or receive voice calls to carry with them. I can see how letting students use electronic devices for reading may get a greater percentage interested and reading, but letting them use their own is just asking for trouble. Hell I am over 30 and still find it difficult not to use my phone for things other than work while I am here.

4/26/2012 2:25:35 PM

moonman
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Our district decided to allow phones (and other personal devices) during non-instructional time this year after years of fighting to keep them off-campus altogether. I was initially against the notion, but it has actually worked quite nicely. Kids are much more likely to comply when you tell them to put away devices and wait till after class when they know they can check their Twitter accounts hassle-free within the next 90 minutes.

4/26/2012 2:31:36 PM

Smath74
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^not a bad idea.

Quote :
"But I was also the "hard ass" teacher that would confiscate cell phones in class and give them to the vice principal for the student to pick it up at the end of the day."

that's our school policy.

4/26/2012 2:33:42 PM

disco_stu
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Quote :
"Why not have an easy quiz at the end of each class that anyone could answer if they were paying attention and they get a reward like a candy, or a free HW pass, or extra credit on the next test/quiz?"


For starter's it's free reading so presumably they can read whatever they want. A test is impossible but a report wouldn't be but that's already been addressed.

Kids are gonna goof off no matter what. Before smartphones it was passing notes, etc.

4/26/2012 2:35:30 PM

wolfpackgrrr
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^^ Technically it was our policy too but I was the only teacher that actually followed through with it. I never understood why the other teachers would let the students walk all over them when it came to shit like that.

4/26/2012 3:36:16 PM

MattJMM2
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Why do they have "free reading" time anyways? Isn't that sort of a waste to pay a teacher to babysit, when actual teaching could be done? Or, the extra time could be used for tutoring?

4/26/2012 3:41:36 PM

Smath74
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it is a tested and peer reviewed strategy to improve literacy.

4/26/2012 3:49:09 PM

Byrn Stuff
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^

4/26/2012 4:03:08 PM

duro982
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1) I think if folks are going to use this thread they should clearly state the content and grade level. I may approach problem x with a 3rd grade student completely different than I would with an 8th grade student.


2) To the OP, have you tried creating a contract with the students? Something that states that in order to use their device in class they can only use it for their work. If they're caught using it for unapproved use, they get a warning or something and after "x" strikes they can no longer use their device in class --- at all. Or something to that effect.

That sort of thing is not an end all be all solution, but it's 1 way to combat this and can go a long way in the right situation. You have to present it as a privilege and not a right to use their device. And you have to be willing to pull it out from under them... which means having another means of providing work (hard copies of books, magazines, etc.) when they don't honor the contract.

4/26/2012 4:12:05 PM

duro982
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Quote :
"it's a lot easier to ensure they are on task when they are responsible for creating a tangible product to turn it... managing "free reading" (or whatever trendy name it's being called these days) is a lot harder since they are supposedly reading what they want at their own pace and all that."


They could be asked to provide some sort of update on their reading to the class or at least the teacher. It would be near impossible to grade/score/evaluate based on content, but you could look at how they communicate the concepts and what not. Of course, it really all depends on the class and what the curriculum even includes. -- they could be working on presentation/public speaking skills during that "assignment."

4/26/2012 4:17:10 PM

The E Man
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high school motherfucking science and my little fuckers (and yes, I will refer to the students as fuckers because this will now be my venting place) all have smart phones, ipods, ipads, vida the whole 9 yard

I really don't think we should be outlawing phones in class at this age. They learn no responsibility and then when they get to college no one will be there to hold their hand and make them put the phone away so let them learn all of those little lessons now. Phones are a permanant part of life and if you can't learn to handle their presence, you will fail at life.

Approach 1:

At my old school i ignored people with devices as long as they weren't getting another student's attention with it. It was like free babysitting for the high maintenance, loud mouth bouncers. Classes were always perfectly smooth and eventually those kids were failing, knew exactly why and stopped.(problem fixed itself

Now I'm at a public school who has a no phone policy but also a bring your own device policy. The kids are confused and don't know when its ok to use their phone. All other teachers allow them to take notes on their devices.

Approach 2:

At the start of the year, I had a no-device policy and confiscated dozens of devices per day. Then, we got into heavy math and I began to let them use devices for calculators. Now it is impossible to tell what they are doing which normally wouldn't be a problem but since I'm at a public school now--> if a kid fails and tells their parents they were never on task, it is my fault.. So now I just have to go rambo on all devices and its stupid. All of the kids have their own accountability scale based on the rest of the kids so if one kid is using his ipod for notes because he left everything else at home then kids 2,3 and 4 think its ok for them to play DRAW IT on their ipod.

"give me the phone"

"BUT EVERYONE ELSE IS TEXTING TOO"

"nope, just you"

"LOOK AT HIM, HES TEXTING RIGHT NOW"

"actually, he's using hiscalculater to solve the problems, hes on #10, you're on #haven't started"

"YOU CAN'T JUST TAKE MY PHONE YOU HATE ME SO IM TELLING MY MOM, THE PRINCIPLE AND THE LOCAL NEWS"


[Edited on April 26, 2012 at 5:44 PM. Reason : PUBLIC SCHOOLS FTW]

4/26/2012 5:43:07 PM

CharlesHF
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...whatever happened to pencil and paper?

4/26/2012 5:47:34 PM

Smath74
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they aren't trendy.

4/26/2012 5:57:47 PM

Moox
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What the hell sort of liberal nonsense school districts are you people working in where you let the kids dictate the curriculum?

4/26/2012 6:08:44 PM

Smath74
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nobody in this thread has even hinted at letting the kids dictate the curriculum. of course, any teacher wouldn't be worth the two cents we get paid if we didn't teach our curriculum in a way that fits the individual needs of our students.

4/26/2012 6:22:04 PM

Moox
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Wasn't aware that letting kids read the blogs of their choosing for an hour prepared them for life, the EOG, the SAT, or college... More importantly, how does reading drivel like that translate into a student's writing ability?

Back in my day they locked us (AG students) up in a closet with Wordly Wise and Classical Roots books. That shit works.

4/26/2012 6:39:44 PM

MaximaDrvr

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The shit referenced in this thread is why I quit teaching.
I got my M.Ed and only wanted to teach middle school.

I was constantly taking phones from students, and the admin would hand the phone back to the student, while I was standing there.
I took a phone from a 13 year old girl while she was using it during class. She then got in my face and started yelling at me and threatening me with violence from her and her family. The school did nothing when I wrote her up... for my own good.
There were three Hispanic students who were MS13 by their own saying. They wore their pants around their ankles and I was constantly making them pull them up. The admin told me to leave them alone and stop harassing them.
I had 24 chairs, and 32 students in my classes. It was my fault that the students weren't fully engaged when I had my observations. The kids had to sit on the floor and table tops.
I had 6th, 7th, and 8th graders in my classes. I was told to have requirements that challenged all students equally for each assignment or project. IE, 3-5 sets of grading standards.
Our school got rid of the resource officer because he was too strict with the students, and not nice enough.

I loved teaching before, and still do, but I can't CMS.

4/26/2012 6:55:26 PM

Smath74
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^a school like that is the exception rather than the norm in this area. what school was that?

^^the school culture has changed over the last 10, 20 years. society expects schools to raise their kids instead of just educating them.

[Edited on April 26, 2012 at 7:07 PM. Reason : ]

4/26/2012 7:05:10 PM

MaximaDrvr

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McClintock Middle School in east Charlotte.
Which they are building a new one of as well.

4/26/2012 7:19:21 PM

wolfpackgrrr
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Quote :
"Our school got rid of the resource officer because he was too strict with the students, and not nice enough."




And they wonder why they can't retain teachers that are good.

4/26/2012 7:52:56 PM

Meg
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Quote :
"There were three Hispanic students who were MS13 by their own saying. They wore their pants around their ankles and I was constantly making them pull them up. The admin told me to leave them alone and stop harassing them. "


In my experience those kids would have been suspended in a heartbeat.

4/26/2012 7:54:14 PM

Byrn Stuff
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Quote :
"Approach 1:

At my old school i ignored people with devices as long as they weren't getting another student's attention with it. It was like free babysitting for the high maintenance, loud mouth bouncers. Classes were always perfectly smooth and eventually those kids were failing, knew exactly why and stopped.(problem fixed itself

Now I'm at a public school who has a no phone policy but also a bring your own device policy. The kids are confused and don't know when its ok to use their phone. All other teachers allow them to take notes on their devices.
"


I feel like this is the most realistic/logical method. If you look around faculty meetings, we're all on our devices. Also, you don't have to deal with the mixed signals of "Ok, you can use them now. Wait! Not anymore!" We, too, have a no device during class policy unless sanctioned by a BYOD activity.

Quote :
"Wasn't aware that letting kids read the blogs of their choosing for an hour prepared them for life, the EOG, the SAT, or college... More importantly, how does reading drivel like that translate into a student's writing ability? "


Typically, independent reading is 10-15 minutes at the beginnings of our 90 minute classes. This happens three times a week. The intent being to create lifelong readers not to force-feed classic lit they can't identify with. I love literature, but I read more horror/fantasy/sci-fi than anything.

4/26/2012 8:01:23 PM

The E Man
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public schools are just shitty like that usually unless you luck up and find a good one. I'm in a rich district and still have the same problems I would have if I drove a maxima. I had none of these problems in the private schools I taught at. I thought I could change the world by switching to public school and teaching 200 kids per day instead of 50. I still basically only teach 50 kids per day.

The observations are horseshit. They rather teachers jump around hoops on a rubric than actually teach meaningful lessons. You have to basically do every type of educational thing in one lesson to get a perfect score so my observation lessons are crap in order to meet the high scores. If I just straight up taught a good lesson during an observation it would get a failing score.

Some students just want to watch the world burn. If I could evict about 3 from each class things would be great but no matter how many times you write them up, they just keep coming back for revenge. You can't threaten their grade or give them work to keep them busy because they stopped caring about their grade in september. you can't use their parents because they don't give a shit either.

And they are not sweet little victims like the world and I used to think. These type of students are not dumb or mentally challenged. Some of them are smart as hell. They are just evil little fuckers. They usually say things like

"I didn't study so fuck this test"
"you should let us retake this test some day"
"if you don't let us take it another time and we all fail, then you'll get fired"


Let me get this straight. These are only like 10% of the students that are mother fuckers like this but they spoil the bunch. In a class of 30 for a non honors class there are usually 10 amazing students that by some tragedy, are not in honors classes. There are usually 5 crazy maniacs that want to destroy the world and they usually take all the attention away from the 15 kids that are normal kids and would try to learn if they weren't completely distracted.

No matter what they do or what they say they can only be suspended a day and will always come back with their antics amplified looking for revenge. They usually aren't stupid so they will get sneaky and attempt to sabotage the whole class. They will try to create alliances with the 15 normal kids or talk them out of doing work. These are the people who make people feel uncool to do their work. I could do so much with the 25 other kids if they were gone but you basically have to just hope they drop out because the administration can't even do anything with them. Some of them fight or start fights with other kids everyday.

Don't get me wrong, it was my goal to help the most needy kids but these types are not needy they are basically like "fuck you, im not learning shit" In a private school, these type of kids get kicked out or their parents beat their ass into submission for wasting their money.

I would like nothing more than to tell these kids what they really are but everyone who isn't a teacher thinks they are the victim. There are victims in schools and I love working with a learning disabled child or a child that has been through things and isn't the sharpest tool in the shed, or even a normal kid that has no work ethic.

I just can't put up with the devils.

4/26/2012 8:18:32 PM

duro982
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Quote :
"Wasn't aware that letting kids read the blogs of their choosing for an hour prepared them for life, the EOG, the SAT, or college... More importantly, how does reading drivel like that translate into a student's writing ability? "


I read The Scarlett Letter in 10th grade... I can't think of a single way it prepared me for life. See below for the answer to your question -- there is a legitimate answer.

Quote :
"The intent being to create lifelong readers not to force-feed classic lit they can't identify with. I love literature, but I read more horror/fantasy/sci-fi than anything"


Exactly, the classics are good for teaching literary analysis. And that can be done very well when the teacher is capable. But many of those books are not very interesting to students if they're just reading it with no context, and without a teacher who can help them relate to the literature. And more importantly, if you're not teaching literary analysis and they're just reading The Scarlett Letter for the sake of it, what are you (they) gaining?

A lot of those "free reading" type of programs are usually about overall literacy. Not that all of them are equally effective (or effective at all), but their goal is part of a broader curriculum and not necessarily the "english class" curriculum.


Teaching literacy is about teaching students to be literate (reading/understanding what they read/writing/and speaking) competently in a variety of content areas and styles. Reading/writing/and speaking about science is different than reading/writing/and speaking about poetry or history. And reading a study is different than reading a magazine article, a blog, or a textbook. If we're talking about promoting literacy and cultivating life-long readers, reading The Old Man and the Sea is no more important than reading Discover magazine. I'm not saying that some things aren't better than others, but I wouldn't discriminate simply because something is a blog or magazine article and not a book (classic or not). Aside from being exposed to the variety of writing styles and picking up on content area literacy, it can also be used to help them learn to discern the difference between the huge variance in quality you may find within any one of those different mediums.

[Edited on April 26, 2012 at 9:17 PM. Reason : .]

4/26/2012 9:14:26 PM

Byrn Stuff
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I couldn't have said that better myself. Thank you

4/26/2012 9:31:17 PM

Moox
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I still am not seeing how letting a kid read a blog on the internet during school hours is "inspiring life-long readers". In today's society literacy is necessary to function. This simple fact alone should be enough to force an individual to be a life-long reader.

http://www.facebook.com/groups/256738827685628/

This is an example of what happens to the English language when kids are free to roam the internet as a learning medium...

4/26/2012 9:31:45 PM

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