We Need To Talk About Smartphones


A recent article in The Atlantic titled Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?  asserts some dire outcomes due to the use of SmartPhones by our children. While I would say that the headline is a bit hyperbolic, I do think that the article is a must read for all parents and educators.

Here are a few of the excerpts that caught my attention, along with some of my thoughts and questions:

 The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household.

Sadly, I don’t think that SmartPhones have radically changed the way that teenagers are educated. I can’t help wondering if we were more proactive in seeing the opportunity of a web-connected device in every student’s hand if we could have avoided some of the negative consequences outlined. What if we had embraced SmartPhones? What if we at least talked about the implication of these devices for our kids and worked with families to come up with a plan to help our students find some balance?

The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression.

Electronic devices and social media seem to have an especially strong ability to disrupt sleep.

I can’t help thinking that there is a direct connection to the time spent on devices looking at social media and the lack of sleep. I would love to know the percentage of teens who have their phones in their rooms and are looking at these devices late at night.  I know teens tend to be sleep-deprived in the best of circumstances, but in how many cases is this due to the presence of a SmartPhone in their room?

As the technology writer Nick Bilton has reported, it’s a policy some Silicon Valley executives follow. Even Steve Jobs limited his kids’ use of the devices he brought into the world.

I realize that restricting technology might be an unrealistic demand to impose on a generation of kids so accustomed to being wired at all times.

We need to help our kids understand the impact that devices are having on their lives. Are they suffering from Fear of Missing Out? I wrote a bit about this back in February of 2016.

This brings me to my next area of discussion which is about the behavior of adults in our device-laden world. I am sure that I have not always done the best job modeling for my kids in regards to the importance of being present and enjoying some tech-free time. I am guessing that I am not alone in this… How many adults are also stressed out and/or depressed due to the prevalence of SmartPhones in our world?

While we could spend a great deal of time looking at all of the areas of concern outlined in this article, the more constructive activity would be to start creating supports to ensure that we do not continue these destructive patterns.  Thankfully, we have resources like Jennifer Casa-Todd’s Social LEADia  that can help us as we build this support system in our school community.





Where Do We Stand In Burlington In Regards To Family-School Partnerships?

Last Friday, I explained my involvement in a summer learning experience called #PTCamp.  This six-week summer book discussion centers around the book Beyond the Bake Sale, the Essential Guide to Family/school Partnerships. The discussion has been amazing so far with 100 educators from around the globe sharing their thoughts and resources on improving the way schools build partnerships with families.  
One of my favorite resources from chapters 1 and 2 is the rubric that was created to help schools see where they currently stand in regards to building a partnership with their families. My personal feeling is that we have Open-Door Schools in Burlington and have some work to do to get to the Partnership School status. Of course, I can’t help wondering if parents feel the same way.


This Week’s Parent- Teacher Chat – Education in the Eye of the Presidential Candidates w/ Nikhil Goyal

Originally posted on eFace Today:

Image credit: http://www.educationfuture.info

This Wednesday night at 9PM EDT/6PM PST, we’ll be talking politics and the future of U.S. Education on #PTchat (Parent-Teacher Chat). Nikhil Goyal (@nikhilgoya_l), a 17 year-old student and author of One Size Does Not Fit All: A Student’s Assessment of School will answer questions and offer ideas during our chat according to his lens as a student attending today’s schools. 

During the chat, we’ll discuss current local and national education policies in place, as well as any future plans and ideas our Presidential candidates plan to implement. Greg Toppo (@gtoppo) of USA Today recently wrote an article on the differing views on education our candidate possess. 

With the final Presidential debate in the books, Wednesday’s timely chat promises to be lively and full of perspectives from all areas of education. We encourage you to send sample questions for Nikhil to pennedtech@gmail.com by Tuesday, 10/23/12 5PM. 

New to
After logging on to Twitter, visit Tweetchat and simply enter “ptchat” in the box at the top.
Follow along, just watch and/or participate as you as much as you like to join
others around the world in this weekly chat. We look forward to engaging your
unique and important parent and/or educator perspective.
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This Week’ #PTchat – Creating an Educational Climate in the Home

Originally posted at eFACE Today:

Image credit: http://www.pbs.org

Parents are the driving force behind their child’s education.  The partnership between the home and school is important in the social and educational development of the child.  As a teacher, I am usually asked the question “How can I help my child?” “How can I assist with

the educational process at home so my child can be more successful in school?” 

Many times I have these discussions when a child is already in danger of failing.  Although
parents have their child’s best interest at heart, they sometimes have difficulty understanding the resources their child needs at home.  Members of the school have the responsibility to provide families with tools and resources so that parents may successfully assist in their child’s education at

Join us this Wednesday, October 3rd at 9pm EDT/6pm PST on #PTChat as we share experiences and tools families need in order to Create an Educational Climate in the Home.  
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This Week’s #PTchat: Raising Student Self-Esteem w/ Angela Maiers

This was originally posted on eFaceToday.:

I hope people from the Burlington community will consider becoming involved with #PTChat on Wednesday night. Please contact me if you have any questions on how to get involved with a Twitter chat.

#YouMatter – These two words hold so much power and potential in supporting kids in today’s world. School students come to us with unlimited potential and oftentimes all it takes is for them to feel a little extra support, confidence and love from their parents and educators to help them rise to the occasion.

This week, we’ve invited @AngelaMaiers to our weekly Parent-Teacher Chat to help provide us the very best strategies in raising self esteem for students everywhere.  Angela’s life path has always been about teaching and communication. Her twenty years as an educator and her passionate pursuit of literacy and learning, gave her a healthy dose of courage and skills that have led to a variety of wonderful experiences, including classroom and University teaching, instructional coaching, research, writing, publishing, corporate training, and starting my own business. More on Angela Maiers can be found on her website here and in her TEDxDesMoines talk below.

Also invited to this discussion is 2012 Blue Ribbon School Principal Tony Sinanis, whose school (Cantiague Elementary), employs multiple “bucket-filling” opportunities for its learning community. We’ll hear from Tony and others on applying these strategies at home and at school.
Please join us on Wednesday night, 9/19 at 9EDT/6PST. Together we’ll create a gDOC school newsletter resource for educators & parents on student self-esteem.


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Don’t Miss This Week’s #PTchat! Parents & Teachers Discuss Digital Citizenship & Internet Safety

We have certainly had many conversations about how we are supporting our students and parents in regards to citizenship and responsibility in the digital age. While our move to a 1:1 high school where every students has an iPad has brought a great deal of positive feedback, there have also been parents who have raised concerns about the increased access to the world wide web that their students now have.

As you can imagine, the questions and concerns that we are dealing with here in Burlington are the same ones that are being discussed in communities throughout our country (and beyond).  This Wednesday night you have the chance to collaborate with parents and teachers from all over the map on this subject.  Check out the blog post below from eFaceToday for more information:

Image credit: mozardien.com
Guest post by #PTchat moderator and New Jersey teacher Dana Sirotiak (@sirotiak02)

As we prepare our students and children for the 21st Century, there is a certain responsibility required when educating students on how to practice safe and responsible usage of online information.  The positives of technology integration include collaboration and increased productivity, but in order for students to demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning, we must instill practices when preparing students for appropriate Internet usage.  

Join us this Wednesday, September 12th at 9pm EDT/6pm PST as we discuss what it means to be a digital citizen and how teachers and parents can develop a partnership to facilitate Internet safety both in school and in the home.  All #PTchat archives/resource gDOCs can be found here
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