Sunday, March 30, 2014

Public Highways and Information Highways - 10 & 2 R U?

April is National Distracted Driving Month.  Distracted Driving is not only a problem, it is an epidemic.  A recent study by AAA found girls are more susceptible to this behavior as opposed to boys.  In fact, the study found that girls were 50% more likely to reach for an object and 25% more likely to eat or drink while driving.  According to an article appearing March 28th in The Oklahoman, 21% of fatal crashes involving a teen driver involve the use of a cell phone and 46% of teen admit to texting while driving.  Researchers collected 7,858 video clips from six months of driving that found distracted behavior occurred 15% of the time.  According to other very disturbing numbers, 500,000 Americans are injured while texting and driving and 6,000 are killed.  The Tulsa Crime Commission organized a group consisting of teens to discuss problems facing teens today.  Their group is called, Generation Text.  Generation Text, headed by Carol Bush, the Tulsa Crime Commission's executive director, advocates 3 very simple pieces of advice, "Stop. Drop. And Drive."   
The Oklahoma Legislators are tackling the dangers of texting and driving by promoting legislation to ban texting and driving.  If passed Oklahoma will be the forty-second state to ban this dangerous behavior.  The Service Learning class at Ringwood High School is following SB442 which would outlaw writing, reading, and sending a text while operating a motor vehicle.  A recent article in the Daily Oklahoman discusses the difficulty we have had in Oklahoma passing such legislation.  It concludes by saying that this measure would NOT cost the state a penny!!  What could possibly be the downfall?  
The Service Learning students have researched the dangers of this issue to support evidence backing up their efforts.  Information was centrally gathered in individual Wikis as part of their electronic portfolios.  Students also created a bulletin board, wrote an obituary for Alex Brown (17 year-old victim of texting and driving accident), created sidewalk chalk drawings, created a ToonDoo, hung message cards on student lockers, made daily public service announcements over the PA, and Skyped with Jacy Good in New York.  Jacy was given a 10% chance of living after being involved in an accident that also took the life of her parents.  The family was returning home after attending Jacy’s college graduation ceremonies.  They were hit by a semi-truck that swerved to miss a young man who ran a red light.  He apparently, according to the police reports, had been talking on his cell phone.  Jacy has appeared on Oprah and now makes her living going school to school to advocate the dangers of distracted driving.  In addition, the students also and made a presentation to the 7th-9th graders the Friday before Spring Break.  
On April 9th, the Service Learning students at Ringwood High School will make a trip to the State Capitol to meet personally, our Senator, and visit with him.  Each student was asked to email Senator Marlatt introducing themselves and the issue we are advocating.  This will be a culminating activity that will serve to introduce the students to the governmental process of enacting legislation, as well as, our civic duty to be involved and informed citizens.  We have followed the progression of this Bill by referencing the State Legislature's website.  We each signed up for updates by establishing an account; plus, we are able to view stages the Bill goes through by keeping up with public postings on the website as the Bill goes from Committee to the different Chambers.  
Curriculum in the 21st Century is focused on involving students as stakeholders in their community by addressing real world problems.  Students learn to research issues that affect not only themselves, but their community.  We want our students to apply learning that otherwise lies dormant in between the pages of old, outdated textbooks.  Twenty-first century pedagogy will impact the way our students learn and apply knowledge.  It will include a new definition of community expanded to include a global community, as well.  Global citizenship is essential to prepare our students for a rapidly changing world.  It forces us to think outside the box, be forward thinking, and become activists so that we affect positive change.  The Service Learning students learned how to advocate this issue using a global platform.  Through the use of Skype, Wikis, Google Alerts, GMail, and our Ning (, students are learning that they can use the Internet and other cloud computing tools, to amplify their efforts.  

How important is technology in the classroom?  It is huge!  Currently, the Oklahoma Legislature is considering the inclusion of computer science as a graduation requirement.  According to, more than half of the projected jobs will be in STEM fields.  In Oklahoma, an estimated 3,226 jobs will be generated that require the math and science skills of computer science; and, only 49 schools teach computer science (, The Conference Board, National Science Foundation).  You, too, can support Oklahoma’s SB1442 by going to  

Our students will need to know how to navigate both types of highways:  public highways and information highways.  We want students who are able to get where they need to go.  Learning how to navigate both types of highways is critical.  Our students’ hands must be on the steering wheel! 10 & 2 R U?

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