parents / members of Millburn community promoting student wellness

1,202 supporters

    Started 3 petitions

    Petitioning Kyle Arlington

    Please have Millburn Middle School students take handwritten notes in class!

    Currently Millburn Township School District is test piloting a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program with wi-fi access, allowing Millburn Middle School students to use their own laptops for notetaking purposes.  Additionally the District is exploring a move to Google Chrome Books, presumably for the same purpose.  However laptops in classrooms for note taking purposes may be doing more harm than good.  Please consider the following before adopting this practice for Millburn Middle School students: 1) Long-hand Note Taking is More Effective than Note Taking on Laptops: Note taking supports learning in two ways: “encoding” and “external-storage”.  “Encoding” describes how students process ideas and information while note taking in order to improve learning and retention. “External-storage” explains the benefit of the student’s ability to review material at a later time (even from notes taken by someone else). Students who both take and review their notes, as most do, benefit from both approaches. Note taking can be generative (e.g., summarizing, paraphrasing, concept mapping) or nongenerative (i.e., verbatim copying). The more deeply information is processed during note taking, the greater the encoding benefits.  Laptop use facilitates verbatim transcription of lecture content because most students can type significantly faster than they can write.  Verbatim note taking reflects shallower cognitive processing and predicts poorer performance than nonverbatim note taking, especially on integrative & conceptual items. Additionally, it is beneficial for middle school students to learn how to take handwritten notes which is an important skill set for their entire academic career as well as future professional life. 2) Laptops Present Additional Distractions, Especially with Internet Access: Empirical research shows that laptops distract students and invites multitasking (including activities unrelated to learning such as checking email, social networking and texting).  Students on laptops are less on task during lectures, show decreased academic performance and are actually less satisfied with their education than their peers who do not use laptops in class.  Non-laptop users that are merely seated near laptop using students often become significantly distracted. Predominant current research therefore supports the conclusion that note-taking on laptops is more detrimental than beneficial to students. When the distractions of the internet, social media, emailing and messaging are factored in, this conclusion is strengthened. 3) Screen time limits, even for educational purposes, are advisable for adolescents for health reasons: If students use laptops to take notes at school and spend an hour or two doing homework on the computer, this adds up to approximately 7-8 hours a day of screen time for educational purposes alone. This would be the first “generation” of students to engage in this amount of daily screen time. At some point the sheer amount of daily screen time may in fact be harmful to adolescent development. Additionally there continues to be new research about the potential harm of excessive screen time for children growing up in a digital age. For example, researchers are examining the exacerbation of the symptoms of the growing epidemic of ADHD, neurological changes in the development of the frontal lobe of the brain which is ongoing in young people up to age twenty-five, and compulsive adolescent technology use that may be compared to drug addiction.  The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines encourage families to actively craft a personalized media plan for their children.  Parents and educators need to consider the nature and amount of media and screen time that children engage in and its effects on a child’s health and well-being, in terms of the both the physical (sedentary habits, eye strain, sleep interference etc) as well the developmental, neurological, psychological, social and emotional. Technology decisions in the classroom should be well considered and deliberate. Technology is a powerful tool and it is important to consider risks about the incorporation of technology in the classroom.  For example, there are significant concerns about students being distracting by social media, internet, messaging etc. while they are supposed to be doing homework; however, if a homework assignment must be accomplished on the computer instead of on paper, there are more inherent distractions and it is harder for parents to help keep children on task. Therefore, according to the best and latest research, 1) handwriting notes is more beneficial to learning and 2) utilizing laptops for note taking purposes throughout the course of the school day may be both detrimental to learning and  harmful to adolescent development. For these reasons, we respectfully ask that MMS students take handwritten notes in class. Thank you for your consideration. REFERENCES: The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop, Psychological Science, May 22, 2014, Mueller and Oppenheimer, Princeton and UCLA,      

    parents / members of Millburn community promoting student wellness
    242 supporters
    Petitioning Dr. Christine Burton

    Give MMS students a proper lunch period and outdoor recess!

    Please sign to show your support for this long overdue change at Millburn Middle School!*** As parents of former, current and future Millburn Middle School students and concerned members of the Millburn / Short Hills community, we respectfully ask MMS give students a proper lunch period and outdoor recess and cease the substitution of health class for daily P.E. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that students should be allowed at least 20 minutes of actual eating time for lunch and that actual eating time begins at the time they are seated with their meals.   Additionally, The American Academy of Pediatrics states that in addition to physical education, students should be allowed daily recess.   The American Academy of Pediatrics further states that all students should have daily physical education, with no substitutions allowed for participation in other courses or activities. Health class should therefore not be allowed as a substitute for daily P.E.   We recognize that there are logistical and practical issues to address in accomplishing these goals but we strongly feel that these are challenges that we can and must meet.  For example, if lunch / recess periods were held between 10:30 am - 1:30 pm, we could rotate the entire school through six half-hour increments through the cafeteria and recess periods.  It currently take MMS students approximately 10 or more minutes for students to navigate the school, the cafeteria room and the lunch lines.  Therefore it is critical that these periods be increased by approximately ten minutes in order that the children have at least twenty minutes to carefully and slowly eat, chew and digest their food. We also believe that each child should have the opportunity to go outside for an outdoor recess period as well in all but the most extremely inclement weather.  We understand that there are logistics to address in this as well but similarly feel that this can and should be accomplished.  For example, the children could go to the enclosed fields area behind the school building and could be provided with balls, jump ropes etc, have a chance to walk or run around a bit; we may even fund raise for the installation of a few basketball hoops.  Recess is an important opportunity for all students to unwind, get some physical activity, fresh air and sunshine in the middle of a demanding school day.  Recess is extremely important for the health, development and well-being of adolescents.  It is not beneficial or appropriate for half the grade to be compelled to sit in assigned seating in the auditorium while waiting for the other half to complete their lunch period when they could be engaging in outdoor recess. Please promote the wellness of MMS students and immediately revise the MMS schedule to allow students to a proper nutritional lunch period  and essential daily recess break and eliminate the substitution of health class for daily P.E. in accordance with AAP health guidelines and the best leading educational practices, thank you. ***UPDATE: New Principal John Connolly recognizes that there is much needed change at Millburn Middle School. In his introductory remarks at the "Meet & Greet" this past spring, he stated "I know that there are some issues and concerns in the community about things within the building and we are going to look to grow and enhance the experience of our students here at the Millbun Middle School.  And so I would ask that you give me some time to work through those issues.  I am happy to hear your feedback.  I am happy to collaborate with every single one of you as part of this process as we continue to build on the wonderful things that are going on in Millburn Middle School.  I think you are going to find that my style and approach is very student centered.  In my current role, I spent an enormous amount of time working with students, counseling students, working through issues, and coming to resolutions.  I feel that I am a very strong communicator.  I think you're going to find that you are going to hear from me often and that is going to be something that is going to be, that I don't know if it is a change or not, but it is going to be my style.  I am going to bring other ways for you to be able to communicate with me and I would like to try to work with the PTO in this building to figure out what would be the best way with all of you as the community here in Millburn.  So those are things we are going to be working on here in Millburn to make sure that your students have a great experience and that you are in the know of what is going on in your building and you can rest assured that I am going to put my best foot foward to help make the necessary changes, the changes that are going to enhance the experience of not only your students but you as a parent here in Millburn Middle School." We look forward to seeing the changes that Mr. Connolly will effect as soon as possible.  

    parents / members of Millburn community promoting student wellness
    594 supporters