questionsis my nephew's teacher out of line?

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There needs to be accommodations for these kind of situations.
I was student teaching in a 4th grade class today and we assigned the students some homework and encouraged them to do it on a computer but if they couldn't they can do it by hand (we showed the students good examples of both). The project was a book report in the form of a one page newspaper that would highlight the different parts of the book including themed adds, articles, pictures...etc.

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Most libraries have both computers and printers. I don't agree with the teacher's policy but a library is a free alternative.

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I think the teacher is out of line on this policy. While using a computer in a library might be a reasonable alternative for high school students and adults, for a 5th grader (and the student's parents or guardians) it may well mean additional transportation needs and extra time that just isn't available for many families.

My suggestion would be schedule a talk with the dean or principal, whichever is appropriate. to discuss reasonable alternatives.

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If I were the parent, I would talk with the teacher. The school's software should be compatible or he shouldn't have to do it on the computer. I would probably send in a floppy disk as a joke and have my child do all the work on paper and turn it on. The teacher's expectations are unnecessary.

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ya know... i think i have some 5 1/4" floppies lying around here somewhere...

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@ohcheri: That would work if the kids' parents are able to take them to the library. I had a similar situation with my daughter's school. Our computer was broken, she came home with an assignment that needed to be turned in the next day, and I had to work. No one else was available to take her to the library, and I couldn't very well skip work.

The teacher should not assign any work unless he or she knows for sure that all of the students can complete it.

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Would emailing an assignment be an option? And yes, unless the teacher can work with the student to find a compatible format, this is ridiculous.

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You might want to check with the school board, what the teacher is asking may actually be illegal.

In my home state (Nebraska) the school is required to provide any materials needed by the student at no cost. Most schools attempt to make the kids provide basic items like pencils and paper, but if a family can't afford something that is needed for class, the school must provide it.

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@thumperchick: that would be the same as the flashdrive. it wouldn't solve the file format problem, which i need to address when i go up tomorrow. make sure they are using a compatible format.

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The teacher is unreasonable for giving a 0 due to a hardware compatibility issue, but come on, it's not the 80s anymore and every school kid should have access to a printer. If you shop around you can get a perfectly good brand new printer for under $50, and if that's still too much post a Craigslist or Freecycle request and I'd bet you'd have a free printer within a day. The teacher is unreasonable but it's also unreasonable for a kid to be needlessly without something that's been an essential school supply for two decades now.

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@starblind: you must realize that a computer is not a necessity in life. food is a necessity. a place to live is a necessity. heat is a necessity. it's only been in the last 100 years that public school was even a common thing. and as at OP said the dad hasn't had a job in a long time.

in my mind this is a case of the teacher wanting to not have to try to read the students handwriting.

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At the 5th grade level, I think the teacher or someone in the school should be helping the student figure out how to save a compatible file.

That aside... If it's just a homework assignment that needs to be done in a word processor & printed, how about using something like Google Docs? As long as the student has web access at home (sounded like email was an option) & on the school computer, the format will match since it's all web-based. The student could even use their regular word processing program at home and copy & paste or upload to Google Docs.

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If I had to guess on the format, the teacher is looking for .doc or .docx (Microsoft Word format).

If they have a computer or you can find one, OpenOffice.org should work and is free.

When I was in 5th grade, I also had to use a computer to type my reports and such. This was back in the 90's when computers were not as common as they are today. I spent a lot of time in the library.

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@moosezilla: sorry, but in this day, a computer IS a necessary tool for a student. Unless you live offgrid in the Alaskan wilderness. Or you're Amish.

I agree that CL or freecycle could easily get this kid a free computer and printer in 24-48 hours.

I also agree that the teacher is being out of line in this situation, by the way.

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@moosezilla: A computer isn't a basic survival need like food and shelter, but these days any kid trying to get through school without one already has two strikes against them. This is especially needless because unlike food and heat, you can get a printer for free.

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I think that instead of fighting with each other or speaking of fairness, the parents and the teacher need to meet and solve the problem in a way that is best for the student. That may require compromise from one or both parties. This is about the education of a child, not about fairness or who's right or wrong.

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It's not unreasonable at all to expect a student to do work on a computer and hand it in that way. Most schools have computer labs these days and there are libraries that also have computers for use by the public. Don't be ridiculous. Do you think when your student goes to university and the professor requires him to make time outside class to visit the computer lab if they don't have a computer at their residence you're going to be able to go talk to the dean of that college and get the requirement rescinded? It's 2012, not 1982. Computers are a necessary educational tool.

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thanks for all the replies to what was basically a venting post. I got the info 2nd, or 3rd hand through our(My Sis & I) parents. so not sure how distorted what i've heard really is.
yes, they have a computer with (sort of) broadband access, just not a printer. (don't really have space for a printer @ the moment - it's amazing how tiny a singlewide trailer becomes with 2 kids (11 &3), bu the time you get the tv, a small couch, recliner or 2, and the 3yr olds toy storage in the living room, finding space for a computer desk gets...fun...

anyway, their Home Computer has Open Office.org on it, School using MS Office.
Teacher being asshat (again by the time the story got to me) basically saying by offering the flash drive option, he was exhausting his options and going above & beyond. I call BS. I mean I know this isn't College, but given the Current state of things, he could organize some sort of "Office hrs" in the computer lab if he's making this requirement for assignments.

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It is a bit out of line for an elementary school teacher to be making such demands.

I think by the time the student gets to high school, when s/he is a little bit more independent and can be trusted to take a few minutes to get over to the school computer lab to print off/work on a short assignment, it's fine.

The flash drive alternative isn't "going above and beyond." It's a basic concession that should be allowed at all levels of primary school.

The fact that there's any complaining of incompatible file formats, however... something is fishy. Both OO and MS Word should be able to read pretty much any basic text document thrown at it. Is the school on an old version of Word that won't read .docx files and neglected to install the compatibility updates?

Whatever is going on, something reeks of computer illiteracy on some end somewhere.

But yes, the teacher has gone too far.

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@hackman2007: I'm pretty sure the default format for OpenDocuments is .ODF, or something along those lines. This format can easily be changed to .doc, but you'd be surprised at the number of people, both old and young, who do not know how to do this.

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I have the answer, that your school will find to be the perfect solution. (It happened to me).
My problem:
The kids are in too many activites that they do not have study halls to do their computer homework.
The school computers are Macs, like most households we are PCs at home.
What I tried.
Installing OS (Mac's OS) on a virtual machine (a computer created on my computer that is not physical) and finding free office software. No free office software.
The second thing I tried (this is the good idea) having them use Google docs. Write the paper in google docs and when it is finished, copy and paste it into the Mac's proprietary office software.
The first year I proposed this the school would not let my kids use Google docs at school. (So idiotic policy failed me)

Continued...

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The second year (the next year) my kids are REQUIRED to have a Google account so they can do on line documents, but they still need to print the documents and hand them in, now a few years later my the school is a Google school some teachers have adopted the idea of sharing the document with the teacher so the printer is never used.
My kids gmail account is the firstname.lastname@school.com (and no it is not school it is the schools name.

My answer is not just to bring up the problem but to introduce a solution. Google docs can be used anywhere there is internet.

Right click the document and press properties. Under type of file you should see something like .doc
This is an extension. You want to match the schools extension, if they have docx then you will need to update openoffice to read the docs you will not be able to save in docx but just use doc.

OPENOFFICE FIX it is easy.
Openoffice fix the default formats (extension) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0SOhc4Twnc

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@trekmiss: I agree, how about you just talk with the teacher ? I think I would have started there.

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This is BS. As stated many people don't have a printer because they won't use it or can't afford it. I have one that just sits in a box. I print everything at work.
In the future might I suggest he use Wordpad to write his stuff. Works with everything so the "compatibility issue" shouldn't happen again.

They need to get with the principals/admins of the school. Get this straightened out.

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Here's my roblem with the whole situtation. Most kids can't write in cursive or even write legibly anymore. So we're now forcing out kids to sit and type instead of learning how to put pen to paper? The teacher is a lazy idiot who doesn't want to have to decipher sloppy handwriting. This is why now homeschool. I couldn't take the teachers BS anymore. "Oh I forgot to include a note that he didn't need to do that assignement".. and so on and so forth,,.

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Open Office saves in the odt format. But, you can save in doc format, too. Remind your family that they can do that.

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The easiest solution has been pointed out. Have OpenOffice save the document as either an older Word format (*.doc), or you can go even more basic and save it as a rich text format document (.rtf) which any word processing program can read, or even less as a plain text file (.txt).

Take a peek at the YouTube video above. It explains the solution perfectly. And the teacher deserves to be fired for not being able to either figure out how to convert the file, getting openoffice to read it, or doing the research (which should have taken 2 minutes or less) and instruct the student on how to save in a formal he could read in. Shame.

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ok...everyone... thanks for all your input, but we are getting duplicates of duplicates of answers.
yes, i know open office, can save in MS formats. it can also save it as a pdf. i know how to do that , just need to get up there THIS AFTERNOON and pass the info along.

as well as install the printer i bought them overnight.

hey admins, how do i/can i, as the OP "close" this Discussion?

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@minxa1: actually a lot of places aren't even teaching cursive anymore...

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@earlyre: you are an awesome aunt/uncle (sorry, not sure which) for being so concerned, involved, and helpful. Kudos to you. And that teacher is way out of line.

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@thepenrod: Apple donated computers to schools all over the country in a clever marketing campaign aimed at making the next generation of kids Apple users. The problem is that most homes have PCs, and never the twain shall meet. I work for local government and I have had trouble for years working with the school districts as we do not have compatible systems. I hear that Apples and PCs have started being more compatible out there in the live market, but in the slow moving world of government equipment, we still can't talk to one another.

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@earlyre: I know you're ready to end this, but you can use Word in the cloud if you have a Microsoft account, like Live.com, hotmail, Outlook, etc.

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@earlyre - you're being a wonderful resource for your nephew.

I had a 5th grader 2 years ago (and will have one again in another 2 years). I live in a very wealthy town, and yet accommodations for those without computers or printers are made. Our library is within easy walking distance, but we also have computer labs at the schools kids can use after school. It's totally acceptable to bring in a flash drive and print in the am before school starts or to use Google Docs.

That said, when my kids started to sleep over at their dad's house on weekdays, the judge ordered him to get a printer. He had refused, as he thinks the world should now be paperless. That works great when you're in IT, but it doesn't work as a parent. Sure, they should be ok with emailed documents, but many aren't yet. I pushed for him to get a printer, my kids were going nuts trying to get everything done before going to his house.

I do hope your sister will speak to the principal about this - teacher was wrong.

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@shavelikeaman: I live in Texas, and the rules are the same here. If it is required, the school has to provide it.

I had this very issue with my daughters high school. They required everything be done online for a couple of classes. The school ended up allowing students time in the library during these classes to complete the assignment online.

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If they use google docs the teachers can read the assignment on their iPads they all seem to have.

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Yes, that teacher is definitely out of line. I'm in college and expected to buy a laptop on top of paying my tuition bills. But my professors constantly make accommodations. Sometimes I think they are too lenient for some students. But no matter. A child in fifth grade should not be required to own a computer and a printer. The allotted lab time during school sounds like a good idea. And don't worry about those zeros, I have a perfect way to reverse them. Go in or have his parents go in and raise hell. Even in high school when my teacher was being unreasonable my mom went in and complained and things got fixed almost immediately. Principals don't like angry parents and teachers are always keenly aware of that.

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I realize this example is not in the same situation, but there are homeless camps in wooded areas in Florida that I personally know of where an easy solution is simply not available. The teacher needs to consider all aspects of this requirement.