P-O-R-T-A-L is not a four letter word

Ah, technology and its promises. Ease of use, improved communication, anytime-anywhere learning and living.

What? You’re not buying it?

First, let’s review how a typical family with a child in each division might be using “technology” to participate in the USM community over a 24 hour period. (Okay–so it’s my family.)

10th grader: Check the English Literature blog, the Western Civ blog, the Facebook group on Latin 2, the portal for homework updates, do a webassign for Chemistry, and do vocabulary sentences on the Sophomore English wiki.

6th grader: Check the portal for homework (compare to assignment notebook), enter answers to History on e-Learning site blog, re-enter the answers to History on e-Learning site forum, check French wiki (after Mom reminds you) for assignment, check out lunch for tomorrow.

4th grader: Check portal for homework (compare to assignment notebook); attempt to sign on to GoogleDocs via Google, attempt to sign onto GoogleDocs via portal; beg mom to send email to teacher so you have work for weekend.

Mom: Check portal for all homework, be sure to check French wiki, read sophomore English blog (What? I used to teach high school English!), download US announcements, email Frau Jaeger about school picture order form 10th grader forgot to bring home, check 6th grade History site, check portal for grade comments, read Friday Folder/Friday Footnotes/US Update, read email from teacher about GoogleDocs, . . . .

Dad: What’s a wiki?

I’m guessing, given the number of kids on Mr. Matera’s site last night and the note home from Mrs. Ptak about GoogleDocs, and the extension of Mrs. Kendall’s composition assignment last week, and [insert your story here] that there are still some kinks to work out in “extending the learning experience out of the classroom and into the home.”

Still, I thought it was pretty cool when my 6th grader did the take home quiz for History online. And, you know, it’s nice to have some window into what my 10th grader is doing in school. It’s great, too, that the 4th grade class is learning about GoogleDocs now–saves paper AND reduces lost papers.

So, learn your portal user name and password, set up your NetWildcat account, maybe even update your profile (Really–you have a profile waiting to be updated on the USM portal).

Most of all, be patient. And see what you can learn about USM and what our children are learning.


9 responses to “P-O-R-T-A-L is not a four letter word

  1. I resemble that remark.

  2. That is exactly how I knew you’d respond–it’s a long way to go to poke fun at you.

  3. I have noticed that homework has become a more computer-intensive undertaking this year. And, just a computer is not enough anymore. It needs to be a computer with internet access. With three kids needing to do homework at the same time and each needing computer access, we are having difficulty in our house sharing the available computers.

    We have been advised repeatedly that kids shouldn’t have computers with internet access in their bedrooms. So, although two of our kids have computers in their bedrooms (without internet access), we also have two computers with internet access in a common area (one is a bit on the fritz right now — it needs more RAM).

    This year, for the first time, we are finding that two shared computers with internet access for three kids is not enough. I think this is both because my kids are getting older (2 MS, one LS), but also that the nature of the way homework is assigned and completed has changed over the last couple of years.

    In addition to upgrading the PC that needs more RAM, we are seriously considering adding an i-mac to that area (it would be our first non-PC in the house). We also briefly considered letting our 8th grader have internet access in his bedroom, but don’t think we are ready to deal with those issues yet. I have also found this year that my 6th grader takes forever to get his homework done now that it is more computer-driven, as he is easily distracted by non-homework sites such as youtube.

    I am wondering how other families address the computers and access at home issues.

  4. I am exhausted too, I might get a degree in my sleep to help deal with the new demands on our technology skills.

  5. @Cindy…This is an AWESOME post! It is wonderful to get a glimpse into the life of an evening of technology use in your family as it relates to homework. I’m guessing the kids still had to do some assignments that required more traditional means and materials. I have a hunch, too, that the kids also had practice, after school activities, and maybe even lessons. Perhaps the kids even played a little bit in the yard or in the neighborhood…I see that it all adds up to an incredible balancing act…wow!

    @diane…the computer in the bedroom dilemma is an interesting one…to me, every child is different and there is certainly no one size fits all approach to this question. Some kids, at a very young age, have internalized there own human filters (these filters are WAY better than any software/hardware filters) and know how to responsibly use an Internet capable computer outside of the regular supervision of adults. On the flipside, some young folks haven’t developed the discipline to do this. A well adjusted middle school student who has a strong sense of digital citizenship, good time management skills, and a good understanding of how the “Golden Rule” might be applied in online communities would be completely fine with a computer in his/her bedroom. I know this is easier said than done and I wish you good luck with your decision.


  6. Gee… and I was complaining about the first grade family traditions poster that I waited too long to start with my little guy. Interesting, however, to see the other side of technology integration from a parent’s perspective. Thanks, Cindy. Your stories are always very entertaining as well!

  7. I enjoyed this post and the comments people have left so far. It is interesting to hear about a parent’s perspective using technology and the myriad of different ways teachers and students are getting involved with web 2.0 tools at home.

    As a teacher, I think it is important to have the tool fit the need of the assignment and to keep in mind that all of these things (wikis, blogs, the portal, moodle, ning, etc.) are tools. Different tools can enhance student learning and achievement in different ways- as can projects done with pen and paper. There are great lessons that can be done without technology and technology can certainly enhance lessons and allow students to have more personal connections to material.

    Reflecting on my own practices, I find myself this year doing more with my “World Investigators” blog and embedding video for instruction and engagement. This, too, is just another tool.

    Thanks for your great thoughts and ideas and for being part of the web 2.0 conversation.


  8. Pingback: A Parent’s Day in the Life of an Online Portal

  9. Pingback: Cindy Zautcke - Featured Parent | www.ourschool.ca

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