New Hour of Code Activity from National PTA & ThinkFun

Computer Science Education Week begins December 4th, and with it comes the Hour of Code program that Illinois PTA has covered before. We’ve also covered the importance of computer science education and computational thinking for students.

This year, as part of National PTA’s STEM + Families initiative, program partner ThinkFun has created an Hour of Code activity called Robot Repair. The activity uses fun puzzle solving to teach Boolean logic, a type of algebra that uses only TRUE and FALSE (or 1 and 0 in computers).

The activity has been approved as an official Hour of Code program and is available directly from the link above or through the activities list at Hour of Code. It can be done at home, or as part of a PTA Hour of Code program along with other exercises. If your PTA is considering an Hour of Code event, keep in mind that there are many activities available from the Hour of Code site that do not require an internet connection or even a computer or other device.

New Parent Guide on Education Data

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a dramatic change from the law it replaced, No Child Left Behind (NCLB). An important part of ESSA, as well as Illinois’s plan to implement the law, is the use of data to inform policymaking, to help teachers improve student achievement, and to aid families in supporting their child’s education. National PTA, in partnership with the Data Quality Campaign, has created a Parent Resource on Education Data.

The guide, a short one-page document, provides:

  • An explanation of what education data is
  • Examples of what data ESSA requires states and schools districts to collect and report
  • Questions to ask your school and district leaders about education data, how it is used, and how it can help you support your child
  • Information about how education can and can’t be used and who can access it

Be sure to read and share the Parent Resource on Education Data. PTAs should also consider working with their school or district to put on a workshop to help families understand education data and how they can use it to support their child’s education.

 

Engaging and Retaining Members

PTA runs on its volunteer membership. Whether it is serving as an officer, helping out at a PTA event, or even just supporting the PTA by paying membership dues, members are critical to a PTA’s success. And the easiest people to get to join the PTA are those who have joined in the past.

Even those who have joined in the past may still need some convincing to join again this year. A blog post at Wild Apricot discusses 12 practical ways to engage and retain members. While the article focuses on the broad range of membership-driven organizations, there is a lot of useful advice for PTAs in the list. Among the suggestions are:

  • Discover why they joined and do more of it.
  • Refresh your members’ memories of the benefits you offer
  • Conduct exit interviews with lapsed members
  • Pick up the phone and start creating personal connections
  • Ask lapsers to rejoin with an appreciation letter
  • Diversify your events
  • Trash your paper renewal forms and automate renewals online (Illinois PTA’s MemberHub partnership makes this easy for PTAs)
  • Send automated reminders

For details on each of these suggestions and others, check out the full article. Then use the membership ideas from Illinois PTA to get more people involved in your PTA.

 

Youth Concussions: What Parents Need to Know

In 2014, Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill into law to provide new protections for high school athletes regarding concussions. A recent NPR Illinois story indicates that while reporting of student concussions has increased in recent years, not every Illinois high school has the resources to fully implement the law.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. This fast movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging the brain cells. This short video explains concussions and how to treat them.

Recognizing a Concussion

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that parents may observe the following signs in their children that can indicate a concussion:

  • Appears dazed or stunned.
  • Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent.
  • Moves clumsily.
  • Answers questions slowly.
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly).
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes.
  • Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall.

In addition, the CDC says that children and teens who have suffered a concussion may report the following symptoms:

  • Headache or “pressure” in head.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision.
  • Bothered by light or noise.
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy.
  • Confusion, or concentration or memory problems.
  • Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down.”

If you suspect your child has suffered a concussion, take them to a doctor for evaluation. Note that a concussion can occur from any blow to the head, not just those from youth sports, so be aware of the possibility of a concussion occurring even on the playground or at home.

Resources on Concussions

The CDC has numerous resources on concussions for parents, including:

Photo © 2006 by Jamie Williams under Creative Commons license.