Sunday, August 28, 2011

Text-Speak: Should text code be taught in school? BRB

The cell phones are buzzing (or playing your favorite song), the keypads are clicking, and parents are still trying to keep up!

Most kids, especially teenagers, learned to text before their parents.  Some parents still haven't given way to this common form of communication.

But how would you feel if Text-Speak was taught in schools?  Would this help the lines of communication between teachers, parents and their kids?

Texting in school is a very popular topic with people able to argue both sides. Some schools in Australia are teaching text speak or SMS in school. The students put together glossaries and compare their versions to the formal written language. Many might argue but listed below iare ten reasons schools should teach text speak.
  1. Translation. Teaching students how to translate one version of the English language into another version of the English language exposes them to critical thinking skills.
  2. It is useful. Students tend to wonder when they will ever use what they are learning. Not long ago students were required to take Latin, and a very small percentage ever applied it in real life. Texting, on the other hand, is quite useful to just about everyone who owns a cell phone.
  3. Teaches creativity. There are plenty of words or terms that have not been condensed down into SMS text language. By engaging the students to create their own versions they are not only teaching creativity, but instilling self-esteem and confidence when they come up with something useful for others.
  4. Quicker note taking. By teaching SMS text speak in schools the students can apply it to other classes as well by using it as a short hand note taking skill. Unlike formal note taking which can take too long and lead to missed notes, SMS can help students effectively take notes at a speed close to the verbal communication of their teachers.
  5. Can wrap ethics in. Classes can have an ethical or moral tone to them by discouraging students from using texting in inappropriate ways. Many kids today are using texting to bully or send lewd messages to one another. This topic can be brought in to dissuade that kind of behavior.
  6. Can prepare them for the future. Technology is improving at a rate that some of us cannot keep up with. By bringing this into the classroom you can prepare students for the ever evolving technological advances.
  7. Engages students. Since you never see a teenager very far from their phone and in some cases it seems like it is permanently attached to their fingers, it makes sense to utilize them in the classrooms as well. Using cell phones in school is a great way to engage students with something they are already familiar with and then use texting to draw them into other subjects as well.
  8. Can save future embarrassment. If texting is taught in school, then students have the opportunity to learn the different acronyms and what they may or may not mean. This can save face in the future when texting a client or other professional. Some SMS texts have different meanings and some, like in verbal communication, can be said in a variety of ways.
  9. It CAN be used to teach spelling. Most people think of texting as eliminating the bulk of a word in order to condense it. This is true but it can be used in reverse in a school setting. Teachers can use SMS text language to give the students their spelling words and then have the students send back a message with the correct spelling of the word or words.
  10. Increases participation. By integrating texting into the classroom, teachers have been using it to get students to participate that otherwise wouldn’t. Some students may be afraid to answer a question out loud in class for fear of being wrong, but by texting answers to the teacher more students can participate at once.
Some people believe that texting in school is a distraction and can lead to cheating, but by bringing it into a classroom session and properly teaching them how to use texting, it can be beneficial to both the student and the teacher.

Source: Phone Service

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

ACT Study Finds 25% of College Graduates are College-Ready

As schools open, many juniors and seniors will be preparing for their SAT and ACT testing for college applications.  This can be a stressful time for both the parents and the teens.

College attendance has steadily increased since 2000 (up 22%), with 68% of high school graduates enrolled in two- or four-year college program in 2010. However, ACT’s annual study of college readiness shows that only 25% of current high school graduates are actually prepared for college.

The study uses empirically derived, ACT College Readiness Benchmarks which are the minimum scores required on ACT subject area tests to indicate if a student is 50% likely to earn a B or better or 75% likely to earn a C or better in first-year college courses.

Other key findings from the study are summarized graphically in a convenient infographic that you can access here:

ACT suggests the following steps for parents hoping to ensure that students are college-ready by graduation:
1.       Know the essential expectations of a core curriculum. Some states have adopted Common Core State Standards, but many colleges and universities expect incoming students to have taken more than the state’s requirements. Be certain that your student is working toward the requirements of his or her intended college, even if those differ from the requirements of the school or state. ACT recommends a minimum of four years of English, and three years each of mathematics, science, and social studies.
2.       Encourage students to take challenging high school courses. A key determiner of college readiness is not just the number of courses taken in high school and grades earned, but the rigor and standards applied to performance in those classes.
3.       Intervene early. Gaps in foundational skills and knowledge are best remediated in upper-elementary and middle school, so that students can undertake more advanced learning and effectively prepare for college in high school.
4.       Pay attention not just to academic readiness, but to behavioral readiness and education and career planning – an emphasis on scores and test results alone cannot guarantee that a student will be well-prepared for college.

You can read the full study here.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Back to School: What is Your Anti-Bullying Policy?

As school will be opening, unfortunately we may start hearing about the ugliness of bullying and teasing of kids.  Many, if not most, schools have employed an anti-bullying policies and programs.  But what happens if they don’t work?

A special guest post from Blair Wagner of A Way Through helps sort through this dilemma.

Why Anti-bullying Programs Miss the Mark

As I direct my focus to a new school year about to begin, I reflect back on the past school year and the approaches I’ve seen schools take to address school bullying among their students and their staff.  The one that really misses the mark is starting an anti-bullying program.

It is common for us to see something we don’t like and to join an anti-[fill in the blank] campaign.  We talk about, write about, and complain about how bad it is.  Our focus is on resisting the thing we don’t like, in this case bullying.  We push against it.  And that’s the problem.

What We Resist Persists

There’s an old saying: What we resist persists. Put another way, when we are negative about an issue, we perpetuate or spread negativity.

When we jump on the anti-bullying bandwagon, our attention, energy and focus are on the negativity of bullying. From this place of negativity, we lack emotional access to positive solutions. The anti name has a persistent negative influence.

As an alternative to a dooms day attitude or an angry approach, a more effective option is to recognize the bullying we see.  Name itBe curious about it.  Look at it from several angles.  But don’t stay stuck there.

Once we’ve gotten clear on what we are seeing and where it is coming from, work to clarify what we DO want. We want better social skills, social competence, emotional intelligence, social intelligence, healthy friendships, a positive culture, a positive climate, and positive role models.

A Springboard to Create a Replacement of Bullying Behavior

This positive focus gives us a springboard to create what we want.

Once we know what we want in bullying prevention, our job is to provide structures, training, and ongoing support for our students and for our school staff – all based on a focus of creating what we want, not on stopping what we don’t want.

Let’s replace those anti-bullying posters (of kids bullying or being bullied) with posters representing healthy friendships and acts of kindness. Start social skills training early. Put forth positive examples, language and visuals everywhere to influence your students in a positive way!

© 2011 A Way Through, LLC

Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Teen Drug Slang: Decoding Your Teen Talk

2011 is a time when parenting and social media collide on many levels.  However there is also a new list of terms that teens are using to mask their activities – especially substance use.

Bridge the communication gap and learn the slang terms that teens use for Rx drug use. Is your child an “all star?” You may be tempted to say yes, but this term doesn’t refer to team sports or academic success. An “all star” is a person taking multiple drugs.

DIRECTIONS: Every generation has their slang, but the lingo today’s teenagers use could mean something dangerous if they are abusing prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. For example, you go “fishig” for salmon or trout, they go “phishing” for pharmaceuticals.

Words that sound innocent to your ears may have another meaning on the street. Read the “hints” and then see if you can guess the drug culture’s definition of these common words or expressions.

Learn more about slang terms – click here.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Alcoholic Whipped Cream to Sizzurp: Teen Drug Abuse

What will teens come up with next to get high from?  Why don’t some of them understand the dangers of substance abuse – the risks that come with even experimenting with some of these drugs?  We just heard about the alcoholic whipped cream, now we have this next trend.

PACT Coalition of St. Johns County, FL sends out a newsletter. It always has valuable information.  This week it informed parents about Sizzurp.  What is it????

This was their trend for the week:

We’ve had several requests for information about cough syrup abuse recently. This is a good reminder to keep a close eye on the items in the medicine cabinet. Cough syrup is a main ingredient of Sizzurp. This is a mixed drink which consists of codeine cough syrup, a fruit flavored soda and often a Jolly Rancher. The codeine causes a feeling of euphoria which can impair driving, cause lethargy and extreme tiredness. Pop culture has embraced this trend in many songs and movies. 

During this month – Partnership at has also rolled out their campaign – You Are Not Alone.

Many parents are more fearful of the stigma attached to having a teen use drugs than they are concerned for the teen that is using the drugs.  It is time to stop being a parent in denial -know that  you are not alone, and there is help and resources to get your teenager the help they need.
Get involved today!

Drug Guide:
Parents Toll-Free Helpline:  1-855-DRUGFREE
If you have any further questions, partnership ideas or comments, please feel free to email us at

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Teens 5 Step Save/Spend Plan: Teaching Finance Early

Today's economy is not a secret, it is a screaming concern among parents, senior citizens and most people in our country.

Does your teenager understand the seriousness of learning how to save, spend and budget money?

The 5-Step Save/Spend Plan by The Mint is a great place to start.

How much of your income should you stash away in savings? You may think: I'll just put money into savings whenever I don't spend it. And how often do you think that will happen? Remember to pay yourself first.

Step 1: Where to begin? Start by pledging to come up with a plan and to stick to it. Next, try out the Money Diary in the Tracking Section. It will help you figure out how much money you have coming in each month and how you are spending your money. Then work out how much you want to spend on everyday items. If you're spending more than the limit, think about where you can cut back.
Step 2: What money do you have coming in? Depending on your age and life at the moment, this may change from month to month. Your allowance may be set, but the income you get from baby-sitting or odd jobs may change a lot. Start with what is average or what you can count on.
Step 3: How much would you like to save? Divide that money into different savings categories: saving for everyday expenses, short-term saving for emergencies, long-term saving for college, and longer-term saving for the future. You may want to set aside money to give to a charity. Several piggy banks or envelopes for your cash may help you keep your money separate. It may make sense to keep a stash of cash for everyday expenses in your bedroom. The rest should be kept in a savings account so you can earn interest.
Do you have a goal in mind, like saving for a car or new touring bike? Check out the Saving Calculator. It will calculate how long it takes to save an amount of money. The calculator can also tell you how much money you need to save each month to reach a goal in a certain time period.
Step 4: Put it in writing. Writing your plan in your money diary gives it more power. Also by keeping a money diary, you'll be able to see how much money you have coming in, how much money you spend, where it all goes, and how much money you save each week or each month. Keep notes to yourself that compare your savings account balance with your savings goals. Keep it in your Money Diary.
You might not like these new boundaries on your spending. In fact, you may think that you don't have enough spending money. Everybody feels that way. We all have a limited amount of money. Now that you're getting older, you are learning that you have to make choices when it comes to money. It is easy to say, “I just need more of it!” You have to manage your money – so you can get the most out of the dollars you have. Ready to learn more? Learn how to live on a budget.
Step 5: Adjust. If your plan isn't working, you can always make changes. But be honest with yourself about why the plan doesn't work before you change it. What's wrong? Maybe your numbers weren't realistic, and you have to be more practical. On the other hand, maybe the numbers are right, but you're having a hard time sticking to them. Maybe you have to change your habits to make it work.

By taking a hard look at what you do with your money, you can begin to set some limits and shift money around between spending and saving – that's called managing your money.

Every penny counts!

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Teen Drug Use: Getting Grandparents to Talk to Your Teens

Time to Talk - an initiative from Partnership for a Drug-Free America is always bring us valuable and educational information to keep our kids safe and healthy.

Today’s grandparents do much more than bake cookies. Sixty-eight percent of grandparents see a grandchild every one-to-two weeks and eighty percent of grandparents talk on the phone with their grandchildren at least once every few weeks. According to a national survey conducted in conjunction with the 2000 Census, there are 4.5 million grandparent-headed homes with children under 18 and another 6.1 million grandparents live with and share parental responsibilities for their grandchildren. In other words, grandparents are doing more “parenting” than ever.

While parents are generally recognized as the most important and long-lasting influence on children, grandparents have a close and special bond and often serve as an inspiration to their grandkids. The unique relationship between grandparent and grandchild provides an ideal opening for a discussion about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Research shows that grandparents are looking for guidance on how to talk to their grandkids about difficult topics. In fact, according to an AARP survey, 54 percent of grandparents would find information about discussing drugs and alcohol somewhat or very useful.
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America offers the following tips for grandparents to keep their grandkids drug-free:

START: It is never too early to prevent your grandchildren from trying drugs and alcohol. Building protective factors — such as letting your grandchild know you care, plays an important role in deterring them from drugs. State your position clearly and often. One of the major reasons teens decide not to use drugs is the fear that their parents or other family members will lose respect for them.
Teens do not want to let down their families.

CONNECT: Take the opportunity to build lines of communication and do things regularly with your grandkids. Spend time together — take a walk with them, read together, play a game, go shopping, go to the movies, a baseball game or go sightseeing together. Use opportunities like family gatherings or inviting your grandchildren to stay over to show that fun doesn’t require drugs.

LISTEN: Take a more active interest in what is going on in your grandchild’s life. Listen to their cares and concerns by fostering family openness and communication. In this way, teens will feel more comfortable to open up to you when they need your advice.

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