Happy New Year and Welcome Back to the last 90 days of the school year for our 8th grade students!
I’m a few days behind, but thanks to our inclement weather I have a little time to catch up! The last half of the school year promises to be one that will fly by for students as so much will be happening over a short time period. Report cards and PSAT score reports were distributed on Friday along with donation letters, yearbook information and several other items of interest. Please sign the label on the large envelope, remove all contents and send the empty envelope back to school. This is how we will distribute items that need to go home that may require acknowledgment of your receiving the item. Feel free to email or call me if you have additional questions.
PBIS- Positive Behavior Intervention Support- each month students receive a PBIS behavior card that is stapled in the back of their agenda. Please review the behavior card daily or weekly to keep up with your child’s behavior. Contact teachers via email if you have questions. Each week students are able to participate in Fresh Air Friday (or inside game time for 20 minutes during inclement weather) if they have behaved positively during the previous Friday-Thursday of the current week. If your child has lost his/her agenda please send $10 for a replacement. The agenda is a requirement for the behavior card, as well as a hall pass for student and an organizational tool to keep up with classwork, homework as well as upcoming tests/quizzes.
January 12- Practice Writing Test in preparation for The Georgia Milestones Tests in April
January 13- Grade Level Talks with students during Connections
January 16- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday- student holiday
January 24- 8th Grade Parent Night 6:30 PM Smitha Middle School- Learning Commons
January 25 or 26 Civil Rights Museum Field Trip (students must have received a 70 or above in all classes and no ISS or OSS since the form was given out !2/12 if I am correct)
In the fast paced world we live in, here are some tips for monitoring social media… As more and more types of social media are added we must be aware of where and what students are posting. Here are a few of the tips- to read them all please visit the link below.
13 Tips for Monitoring Kids’ Social Media – Internet safety tips for kids and their parents…
By Jeana Lee Tahnk of Screen Play
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released findings from a comprehensive study on the impact social media has on kids and families. Although there are real benefits to kids using sites like Facebook, including increased communication, access to information and help in developing a sense of self, there can be serious downsides to all this online sharing too.
Social networking is on the rise, and the study found that 22 percent of teenagers log onto their favorite social media sites more than 10 times a day, and that 75 percent own cell phones. This level of engagement online increases the risks of cyberbullying, “Facebook depression” (a new phenomenon where “de-friending” and online bullying lead to symptoms of depression), exposure to inappropriate content, and sexting.
Just as we prepare our kids for life in the real world, we should prepare them for life in the online world. Read on for tips that every parent should keep in mind.
Check Privacy Settings
Use Filtering Software
There are software suites you can purchase to monitor your child’s Internet usage; many even enable you to view the exact keys that were typed, time spent online and all computer activity in general. Popular programs such as Net Nanny and PureSight PC let you monitor social media sites, block chats, filter content and much more. You can even monitor your child’s cell phone with a software program like My Mobile Watchdog.
Create Ground Rules
If your kids are old enough to be using the computer on their own, they are old enough to understand that there are rules they need to abide by. Breaking them should not have a lesser consequence than if they broke a rule in the offline world. The best way for families to agree on ground rules is to create a contract that all parties must sign. The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) encourages parents and kids to have an open discussion about what these rules mean, and offers a good example of a contract here.
Get To Know What Your Child’s Habits Are
You don’t need to be a super sleuth and spy on your kid’s every online move, but it is important to be aware of the kinds of sites he is frequenting and the people he is associating with. You get to know the friends he’s hanging out with at school, and his online friends shouldn’t be any different. One of the contract rules should be that you have full access to his Facebook friends and can take a look whenever you wish.
Keep the Computer in a Central Location
It’s much easier to keep tabs on any online activity when the computer is located in a high-traffic zone than if your child is using a computer in the privacy of her own room. Place the computer in a central location like your kitchen or family room so that everything is out in the open.
Monitor the Pictures Your Child Posts Online
In an ideal world, your child would never post a photo of herself online, but that might not be entirely realistic. If she wants to share photos with her friends via email or a social networking site, be sure you know exactly which pictures are being posted. Make sure the content of the photo is completely innocuous and that no identifiable locales in the background are noticeable.
Limit Cell Phone Use
Just as you would limit use of a computer, TV or gaming system, you can do the same with a cell phone. Set rules for the device, only allowing cell phone usage at certain hours in the evening or after homework has been completed. If you have teens of driving age, the most important rule to enforce is that under no circumstances should cell phones ever be used while driving. Phones should be kept off so incoming text sounds aren’t a distraction or should be kept in the glove compartment, out of reach.
Teach Kids about an Online Reputation
Many kids don’t seem to understand the permanence of the online world. Make sure to stress to your kids what a digital footprint is and the impact inappropriate messages or images could have if a future college administrator or employer were to stumble upon them. As stated in the AAP study, what goes online stays online.
Talk to Kids about Online Dangers
You may feel like you’re scaring your kids when talking to them about the dangers of being online, but it’s better for them to be scared than to be unaware. Having an open line of communication is crucial the minute your kids start using the Internet more independently. Parry Aftab, noted online safety and privacy expert and Executive Director of WiredSafety, says, “Who’s a stranger online? Everyone is! You need to remind your children that these people are strangers and that the standard rules always apply.”
Get to Know the Technology
Kids have gained a mastery of technology so quickly and can easily pick up on the nuances that any new gadget has, far more easily that we can in some cases. It is every parent’s responsibility to know exactly which key features are included in the gadgets our kids are using. Stephen Balkam, founding CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, says, “This can be a humbling experience. You may find that you had no idea that the Sony Playstation Portable that you bought your 11-year-old last Christmas had a web browser. Or that your 5-year-old son (with the help of his older brother) has managed to create an avatar on Club Penguin and regularly goes for in-world pizzas with his other penguin friends.”
Want more tips? Check out The Secret Life of Kids Online: What You Need to Know
As we enter the final few days of the first quarter I wanted to take the opportunity to share updates and items of interest. It has been an awesome first quarter! Seeing the students return from last year, as well as meeting all the new students who enrolled this year has been awesome!
We have incorporated several new things for the school year for students which include:
- Fresh Air Friday
- Quarterly Student Recognition Activities
- Quarterly Behavior Cards (all students must have a Smitha agenda each day at school)
9/21- progress report distribution (local school)
9/23 Dress down day $2 cost (see school website for dress code)
9/26-9/30 Cobb County School District’s Fall Break
10/6 South Cobb Magnet Meeting (check their website for more information)
10/7 Pebblebrook Magnet Meeting (check their website for more information)
10/17-10/21 Conference Week
10/19 PSAT Testing for 8th grade students
PSAT and PSAT 8/9
Here are two short presentations for students and parents focusing on the upcoming PSAT for your review. These presentations were shared with students through their Language Arts classes
- Why Take the PSAT 8/9? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwnY1Z7JMAo&rel=0
- Why Take the PSAT/NMSQT? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YmGFh76Deo&rel=0
To stay abreast of your child’s grades please make sure you have stopped by the front office to get your ParentVue login information (bring valid ID)
Remember to check teacher blogs for homework, upcoming tests/projects. You can find each teacher’s blog by going to the Cobb County Website, clicking on schools, middle schools, then Smitha Middle School. Once there, click the about tab, then faculty and staff link. Blog hyperlinks are listed on the right side.
If at any time you have questions or concerns please feel free to call lme at 678-594-8267 or email me at [email protected]
I look forward to communicating with you throughout the year.