This and That

Terribly disturbing news this week that middle-schoolers are now as likely to die from suicide as car crashes.  From the NY Times:

That grim fact was published on Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They found that in 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, the suicide rate for children ages 10 to 14 had caught up to their death rate for traffic accidents.

The number is an extreme data point in an accumulating body of evidence that young adolescents are suffering from a range of health problems associated with the country’s rapidly changing culture. The pervasiveness of social networking means that entire schools can witness someone’s shame, instead of a gaggle of girls on a school bus. And with continual access to such networks, those pressures do not end when a child comes home in the afternoon.

The crossing-over point was reached in part because suicide had spiked, but also because fatal traffic accidents had declined.  Far more boys than girls killed themselves in 2014 — 275 boys to 150 girls — in line with adults in the general population. But the increase for girls was much sharper — a tripling, compared with a rise of about a third for boys.
Good infographic from Common Sense Media on "media habits" of 8-18 year olds.  (Sorry I can't reproduce it here but it won't seem to insert at a readable size.)

Oh look, the survival video game, Minecraft, tailored for education.  Just what we needed.  From U.S. News and World Report:
"Minecraft: Education Edition" provides a team-play mode for up to 30 students and allows them to take pictures of their work for teachers to track their development. It also adds a chalkboard feature so teachers can post information or give instructions during the game. It has a single sign-on feature for privacy and security protection, and a non-player character function in the November version enables educators to act as guides within the game.

That schools and interested parents will adopt the game on a widespread level is the gamble Microsoft is taking. "Minecraft: Education Edition" will be available in the Windows Store for $5 per user per year from Nov. 1, while schools also can obtain the game under a districtwide licensing agreement that charges in the range of $1 to $2 per user per year, the "Minecraft" team tells U.S. News in an email.

"Phenomenal" is how Mark Minghella describes the test version of "Minecraft: Education Edition," the new iteration of the popular building game.  Minghella says the game can help students understand the concepts involved with building a sustainable community, as well as how to work collaboratively, overcome obstacles and prioritize tasks.

For Microsoft, the parent company of "Minecraft," the foray appears to make sense, as the game-based learning market is expected to reap revenues of $4.9 billion by 2019
On that note about technology use in the classroom, from USA Today,  School tech buys: 8 questions to ask first:

1. How will this particular technology improve learning?  What does the proposed product offer the student in terms of learning that the current situation doesn't, and what are its downsides? 

2. How good is the technology?  Have its promises been independently validated?

3.  What feedback is available about the product, including from teachers, parents and students?  Check independent feedback that addresses the level of children's engagement or frustration, including any issues involving children with special needs or limited English proficiency. 

4.  Is the investment worth it financially? Is the technology improving learning enough to warrant the expense?

5. How will a technology initiative be reviewed? Districts should provide a timeline with specific dates for reviewing feedback, including not just quantitative data, but also reviews from students, parents, and teachers.

6. How will the data generated be safeguarded and are those safeguards sufficient? Data security is a critical issue, as it goes to the heart of keeping our children safe from identity theft and protecting their personal data from exposure. Federal regulation is lax on protecting student data, so districts need to insist that vendors provide the highest levels of security, and should assess whether that is sufficient.

7. What professional development will be provided to the staff? 
One of the most frequent complaints about fast technology infusions is that teachers aren't being trained to best use these tools. The answer should also address whether funds are available for staff training, and how much that will cost.

8.  What are the views of the community regarding technology in the classroom? Community views should be considered when school districts create and assess technology initiatives.


Jet City mom said…
Well, they are the age where they mostly are only in cars with adults, and noone wants to talk about whether they are depressed or not, because they dont want to put the idea in their heads.
Its also my impression, more people have firearms which make it too easy.
When i was 14 one of my friends from Rose Hill Jr High, died from self inflicted injuries, in 1971.
Actually a few years before that, when I was 11, one of my neighborhood friends died that way as well. It was horrible. His name was Kenny Graves.

Fewer kids in my childrens circles have died from accidents or suicide than I remember growing up, although the girl who was the youngest recorded death from the Aurora bridge, was part of our extended family.
We really need more support staff in schools.
Not psychologists neccesarily, but younger adults who know the kids and are approachable.
Like the drug/ alcohol counselors some schools used to have.
Anonymous said…
By Jet City Mom's observation if we lower the age to drive to 11 years old then middle school traffic fatalities will rise.

In my teaching career I had three high school students (I taught) die by suicide during the school year. One by hanging, one by jumping from an overpass onto I-5, one by gun shot. I also had two students who committed murder. One using a knife, and one with a combination of strangulation and knife. Yes during the year I was teaching them.

Better care of our students is needed. I think some if not all of the above five incidents could have been avoided.

-- Dan Dempsey
Jet City mom said…
and lets not forget the assaults, and harrasment, including sexual harrassment that does not get reported to police even if it is reported to the schools.
Assaults & harrassment likely come before suicide and murder.
Jet City mom said…
Dan, I wasnt really considering lowering driving age, but Ive noticed that once kids have access to cars, deaths & severe injuries were from motor vehicle accidents, which very well may be suicide attempts, although I daresay most teens wouldnt attempt to take their friends with them.
Except for that pair who ran their car into the side of Mercer Island jr high school.

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