News

Gunn administrators call attention to teens' sleep

High school launches partnership with Stanford sleep experts

Two Stanford University sleep experts gave a talk at Gunn High School this week, kicking off a new partnership between the high school and Stanford aimed at educating students and parents on the intimately interwoven topics of sleep and student wellness.

William Dement and Rafael Pelayo, both psychiatry and behavioral science professors at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, talked to 200 sophomores and seniors Wednesday about the importance of establishing a healthy sleep rhythm, and the increasing number of distractions competing for students' time, primarily homework and social media. A survey was also administered during the assembly, asking students questions like, "Have you ever seen a classmate fall asleep in class?" (76 percent have) and "Have you ever skipped sleep to do your homework?" (76 percent have).

The assembly was the first in what Gunn administrators hope will be an ongoing series of educational efforts surrounding sleep, social-emotional well-being and general wellness.

"Part of that is the idea of our school embracing the idea that yes, our primary goal is academic learning, but there are a lot of other kinds of learning how to take care of your body, how to take care of your mind," Gunn Principal Denise Herrmann told the Weekly Thursday. "All of those things are equally important."

Vice Principal Tom Jacoubowsky reached out to Dement and Pelayo just before winter break in December to plan the assembly. Dement, who also serves as division chief of the Stanford University Division of Sleep and is founding president of the American Sleep Disorders Association (ASDA), has for decades studied the neurochemistry of sleep and the impact of sleep deprivation, according to his university biography. In 2006, Dement spearheaded a sleep-study and awareness campaign at Menlo-Atherton High School that soon won recognition from the California School Boards Association and the National Sleep Foundation's Healthy Sleep Community Awards.

Pelayo has published research on treatment for sleep disorders and, particularly, pediatric sleep pharmacology.

Gunn sophomore Martha Cabot said the assembly wasn't as helpful to her and her friends as they would have hoped.

"They continued to point out that us kids need to know that we should sleep more and do less homework," she said. "It was kind of surprising to us because we know well enough that we should sleep more."

Some students were actually asleep or on their phones during the assembly, she said. To her and her friends, the issue circles back to the need for a fix for students' heavy homework loads.

Jacoubowsky and Herrmann said the new sleep partnership is just one of several efforts to improve student wellness, including a hard look at Gunn's homework load and class scheduling, the construction of a comprehensive wellness center and ongoing work with Challenge Success, a nonprofit research organization founded at Stanford's School of Education that works with schools and families to improve student health.

Herrmann said Gunn is expanding this year the use of a time-management tool previously used only for students considering taking multiple Advanced Placement (AP) classes. When students select their classes, they'll be asked to calculate how many hours they would be spending in school and on homework versus sports, extracurriculars, sleep and other activities.

"At the end it will say, 'Have you exceeded an average of a 24-hour day?' We're trying to find tools to help them," Herrmann said.

In 2011, Gunn shifted its morning start time from 7:55 to 8:25 a.m., though 15 percent of students are currently enrolled in an early zero-period course, Jacoubowsky said.

Jacoubowsky hopes Gunn's partnership with the two sleep experts will be a sustained, ongoing and comprehensive effort that goes beyond one-time assemblies, though a similar assembly for freshmen and juniors is in the works for this year. An eventual goal is to incorporate sleep education into Titan 101, Gunn's freshman transition program.

"This is ongoing because every year, we get a new group of kids," Jacoubowsky said. "Every year, we get new parents coming in. It ties in again with wellness (making sure students are) not only academically strong, but emotionally healthy, and what role the school can play in it."

Jacoubowsky said parents play a critically important role, yet many don't fully understand how different it is to be a high school student in today's world of constant connectivity and increased demands on attention and energy.

According to the survey administered during the assembly, 72 percent of responding students go to sleep after their parents do.

"If I went to our parents and said, 'Hey, I have a program I can offer you that's going to improve your child's health, which will improve their productivity, which will improve their grades are you interested? And would you be willing to pay for this?' And they would probably all say, 'yes and yes,'" Jacoubowsky said. "Well, this program is absolutely free, and it's called 'monitoring your child's sleep and understanding (it).' That's the other part."

Jacoubowsky and district nurse Linda Lenoir are planning a similar sleep-education program for parents in February, he said.

Sleep survey at Gunn High

Have you ever seen a classmate fall asleep in class?

True (yes): 76 percent (150 responses)

False (no): 24 percent (48 responses)

Have you ever fallen asleep doing homework?

T: 46.5 percent (93 responses)

F: 53.5 percent (107 responses)

Have you ever skipped sleep to do homework?

T: 76 percent (152 responses)

F: 24 percent (48 responses)

Do you go to sleep after your parents do?

T: 72 percent (144 responses)

F: 28 percent (56 responses)

Do you wish you could have more sleep?

T: 87.5 percent (175 responses)

F: 12.5 percent (25 responses)

Do you wake up tired?

T: 86.5 percent (173 responses)

F: 13.5 percent (27 responses)

Have you ever seen a person drive drowsy?

T: 47.3 percent (95 responses)

F: 52.7 percent (106 responses)

Are you ever woken up by a text message?

T: 31.5 percent (63 responses)

F: 68.5 percent (137 responses)

Comments

6 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 9, 2015 at 8:45 am

I am pleased with this start, but it seems to me that there are no practical answers given here, just sleep more and manage time better.

As an example, teens use their phones as alarm clocks, so don't want to switch them off overnight. One solution, switch to do not disturb between the hours of 12 and 7 and the phone is silenced. This can be done as an automatic setting and could be set by parents as a condition of ownership of the phone.

Telling teens to get more sleep seems like an easy fix. Getting them to do so is much harder since they can't sleep knowing that they have work they can be doing.

Oh, and it isn't just a Gunn thing. Paly has the same issue.


11 people like this
Posted by School time management
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2015 at 9:14 am


There has been an extensive discussion about homework on these threads. Including homework's diminishing marginal value in terms of achievement. Classes relying on too much homework are bad, and students should not be deprived of taking classes because of fear of homework.

AP and Honors should not be exempt from homework policies and boundaries to either exclude students because of fear of homework, or leave students unprotected.

How can tools for time-management be effective or fair if there is no homework policy in place, no boundaries on homework loads, and Honors and AP classes are left out of the homework policy?

You can't plan if there are no boundaries.



14 people like this
Posted by BetterNightSleep
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 9, 2015 at 9:55 am

Here is the root of the sleep problem for many kids: too much homework.

Here is the solution: when you finish your homework, just note which teacher assigned the most homework that day. Then drive by their house and honk your horn 4 times to let them know you are done for the night.

Might want to pop over to the principals house too - they'll appreciate the update as well.

I think homework will start to drop when they walk a mile in your shoes.


1 person likes this
Posted by not unusual
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 9, 2015 at 10:08 am

Try this: Web Link

It gives you an idea of what each course/elective will take.
- Subjects range from 1-4 hours per week
- Honor classes range from 2-5 hours per week
- AP classes range from 4-10 hours per week
- Electives can go up to 30 hours per week



4 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 9, 2015 at 10:11 am

Speaking from experience, homework is not the only reason kids stay up too late. Facebook, Instagram, texting, Internet Surfing, YouTube, Netflix, etc. serve as a major distraction that kids can pull off in their rooms...where parents do not dwell too often.

I don't disagree that homework is an issue...but I also wonder how fast homework would be completed if the students were sitting in the Kitchen or Dining Room...where a parent can help with focus. We did this with one of our kids and it made a huge difference.


3 people like this
Posted by Paly Dad
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 9, 2015 at 10:34 am

I have two high school students, and they always go to bed at 10:00 every weeknight, and thus get 8-9 hours of sleep per night. They are done with their homework by then, too. I think kids can manager their time better, and get enough sleep. I do realize that extracurricular activities make this more difficult, but there are also prep periods during the day in which they can work on homework.


3 people like this
Posted by School time managment
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2015 at 10:42 am


It's not up to the school to plan what students do with the rest of their time - only homework time.

The school's job to give accurate times for every assignment.

Saying 1-4 hours per week
Honor classes 2-5 hours per week
AP classes 4-10 hours per week

All these numbers vary teacher by teacher, and then the combination.

Unlike college, students in High School cannot choose teachers, so you cannot use any time management tools.

Any 1 person' experience that this homework boundary free system is OK is irrelevant.

Homework relevance is also an issue and EQUITY. If one teacher can teach the same class with less homework, all should.


14 people like this
Posted by Gunn mom
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 9, 2015 at 1:22 pm

My daughter is often up until 11 doing homework. Telling her to get more sleep is like pinching a baby and then telling her to stop crying. How about not assigning do much homework? Then the sleep might take care of itself.


1 person likes this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 9, 2015 at 1:30 pm

How about later school start times? When I was in high school, you could choose to go period 1-7 and get out early (for work or extracurriculars), or if you were a late starter, you could go period 2-8 and get some extra sleep in the morning.


14 people like this
Posted by Sarah
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 9, 2015 at 1:33 pm

We should forward these messages to the middle and high school teachers

- STOP GIVING USELESS HOMEWORK.

Save it for sleeps and family time.

PAUSD should allow the students and parents to review the teachers' performances. Just like some corporations do for their bonus time. Reviews from different angles.


11 people like this
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 9, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Kids and parents all know that the kids need more sleep. We don't need an assembly to tell us that. We need less homework. The truth is that the majority of kids in this area take many APs and honors classes. Don't tell me that kids should take fewer of those classes - that is simply not going to happen in this community. However, the homework load for those classes is out of control and we need a policy to address it. Every teacher operates in a vacuum and assigns as much HW as he/she pleases. There is no reason a high-school kid should have more hw than a college student, no matter how many APs and honors classes they take.


1 person likes this
Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 9, 2015 at 2:52 pm

@Gunn Parent
"There is no reason a high-school kid should have more hw than a college student" Not sure where this statement is coming from. I really don't think our students have more HW than college students it is just that they are in class more and take more classes. This is from a UC handbook:

" The value of a course in units shall be reckoned at the rate of one unit for three hours work per week per term on the part of a student, or the equivalent. COCI defines work to include class contact time
as well as time spent outside of class studying and doing research or homework. Thus, a three‐unit class will be expected to require nine hours of total work per week on the part of the student"

If we were to to use this criteria for our classes then the expected work per week would be 15 hours PER CLASS as classes at PAUSD are all 5 unit classes and since they are in class for 4 hours it leaves 11 outside of class hours for HW.

Most colleges will say that it is expected that the student spends 2 hours outside of class for each hour in class. That would translate to 8 hours per week of HW PER CLASS or 48 hours for a student with 6 classes. I do not believe that our students have any where near 48 hours of HW per week or the 11 hours per course as suggested by the UC's.


2 people like this
Posted by School time management
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2015 at 3:22 pm

Palo Verde Parent,

Regarding AP classes, the drone statement is that they are "college level"

Well, they may, but also not. Some are so "not" that they do not count as college credit. So you could have a student being given "college level" homework, and nothing else.

PAUSD is not running a college. They are supposed to evaluate their responsibility of running High School appropriate classes. That includes homework policies.

It is irresponsible to exclude AP or Honors classes from boundaries and homework policy on the basis of college preparatory work.

PAUSD needs to spell out what college level homework they are running their classes on, is it the UC system?

It's completely wrong for the schools to not TIME manage themselves on homework.


6 people like this
Posted by Experienced Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 9, 2015 at 3:53 pm

@ Mr. Recycle: About 6 years ago, Susan Schultz, counselor at Paly, worked on delaying the start time and we ended up with the 8:15 start time, although she wanted to push it to later. The excuse is always that the athletes need to be released early enough for games. Menlo-Atherton starts at 8:45, 9:25, 9:40 during the week. How'd they do it?

The other hardship is that those on our sports teams not only play their game, but have to watch the other levels of their sport play their games so they don't return home until late at night.


3 people like this
Posted by stretch
a resident of another community
on Jan 9, 2015 at 5:58 pm

Here's an idea: buy your teen an alarm clock and take his/her phone away when it's time to do homework and at bedtime. I mean, there's got to be a limit. I'm tired of excuses.


6 people like this
Posted by School time management
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2015 at 6:29 pm

stretch,

Also tired of excuses, when is the homework policy going to be implemented and include AP and Honors classes?

When will the time management "tools" have accurate information about class loads per teacher? And when will this idea abut alignment ever happen?

Lottery to get the class which has the least amount of homework and still good outcomes?

Or is PAUSD insisting that achievement is tied to out of bounds homework? They would be wrong.

Homework has marginal diminishing returns.


7 people like this
Posted by Marc Vincenti
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 9, 2015 at 9:09 pm


Hi, P.A. Onliners,

A high-school assembly such as this one (“Gunn administrators call attention to teens’ sleep”), so well-reported by Elena Kadvany, so well-intended by the adults, and on an issue so important, is sadly a too-hollow exercise within the real world of our kids’ lives.

In the dim auditorium light, instead of hearing a thing, many students are furtively catching up on homework, checking and sending texts, and, yes, napping.

They have scant reason to want to listen—when what they find themselves in day after day (not just on an assembly day) is a school regimen that robs them of nightly rest because they’re anxious about whether to cheat on an upcoming exam or to copy homework (common among their friends), because they’re tossing and turning over their grades (posted home electronically, now, with greater frequency), and because their un-modulated homework loads often keep them burning the midnight oil—all the more of it because they’ve already burned up so much daylight (as is permitted in and out of class) with time on their phones.

The increased use of a “time-management tool,” now offered to more Gunn kids under Principal Herrmann's leadership, is good news; and more such changes could be made by our school leaders if they would, and if we ask it of them.

As a Gunn teacher for fifteen years, and a co-founder (along with sophomore Martha Cabot) of an initiative to bring change to Gunn (described at www.savethe2008.com), I believe that it will only be when we actually see our teenagers for who they are, and for the lives we're causing them to lead, that they will sleep any easier.

Sincerely,
Marc Vincenti


P.S. “Save the 2,008” in a nutshell:

“Save the 2,008” is a grassroots initiative that proposes shrinking classes to a friendlier size, moderating the amounts of homework, fostering wiser decisions about course loads, quieting the all-day distraction of cellphones, slowing the bombardment of grade-reports so our kids have room to ride out the ups and downs of teenage life, and ending the demoralizing impact of academic fraud—so that the 2,008 students and teachers of Gunn High can grow, breathe, learn, thrive.

www.savethe2008.com


4 people like this
Posted by Marc Vincenti for Gunn principal
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 9, 2015 at 9:29 pm

Thank you Mr. Vincenti and Martha. Less assemblies and less homework, please.


5 people like this
Posted by School time management
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2015 at 10:10 pm

Marc Vicenti,

"fostering wiser decisions about course loads,"

I like your initiatives, but they accommodate and accept the system of homework with no boundaries. I urge you to address the fact that wiser decisions cannot be made with flawed or misleading information.

What a choice to have to decide on a schedule based on homework loads. And no protections.

To plan school with risk and regrets associated with it.





14 people like this
Posted by The Rent is Too Damn High
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 10, 2015 at 8:06 am

This seems just cruel to me. Hey teens you should get more sleep, hey parents you should make them go to bed. This is the wrong assembly to the wrong audience.

Hey teachers, you should assign less homework.
Hey Max, you should enforce the board policy and stop ignoring what you are legally obligated to follow.

Shame on Gunn for holding this total sh$%show. I'm sure that the kids in the assembly were all texting each other about how they could be doing homework during this stupid assembly.

Do better.


14 people like this
Posted by The Rent is Too Damn High
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 10, 2015 at 8:38 am

""If I went to our parents and said, 'Hey, I have a program I can offer you that's going to improve your child's health, which will improve their productivity, which will improve their grades are you interested? And would you be willing to pay for this?' And they would probably all say, 'yes and yes,'" Jacoubowsky said. "Well, this program is absolutely free, and it's called 'monitoring your child's sleep and understanding (it).' That's the other part."

Mr. J should just put his stuff in a box and follow Kim Cowell over to AP for building and grounds if he can't understand how infuriating this statement is.

ALL PARENTS WANT THEIR KIDS TO GET MORE SLEEP. The problem is you and you know what Tom, you bloody well know it too. [Portion removed.] Unlike the teachers who think that their homework is awesome because they are the most rigorous of the rigorous, that they are winning the Homework Olympics, that they are "toughening them up" because here at Gunn we have a "culture of hard work," unlike the teachers and admins who literally glory in the role of Gunn as the first American Cram School, who think that somehow they are just badasses for having the most, highest, biggest, worst, homework in all the land -- unlike all of them, Tom J knows better.

[Portion removed.] You know that the problem isn't that parents aren't "monitoring" sleep. The parents are desperate for you to finally do something about excessive homework.

The way to do that is to build connections between teachers and students. [Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2015 at 2:31 pm

If you want teens to get more sleep, start school an hour later.

The sports excuse is just that.


7 people like this
Posted by School time management
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2015 at 3:40 pm

Please, no schedule changes or fuzzy pillows for better sleep until a homework policy is implemented which includes AP's and Honors classes.

Cannot use time management tools without real boundaries and accurate estimates. 1-4 hours, 2-5 hours, 4-10 hours- meaningless. And what on earth needs 10 hours of homework every week? Ask home schoolers if they need all that plus all the hours in school for an AP class.That is way beyond the level when homework has diminishing value.

A monument to Wellness is about to go up, where are the homework boundaries?


11 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 10, 2015 at 5:04 pm

This seems about as oblivious as the too much homework discussion we are trying to have in middle school. When the district got the wake up call via more tragedies, instead of finally listening to us, the school sent home aletter basically giving us the same patronizing stuff, only for organizing. As if we didn't know such a thing existed and hadnt already been pulling our hair out daily to try everything possible.

When even well-meaning teachers get together to figure out how to assign homework, even in conjunction with each other, they are still assuming kids' lives after school are some kind of blank slate that they have priority in using up.

I agree with School time management. Let the teachers walk the walk and show us how it's done by managing time in school so we can set boundaries on the school day and kids can have a life after school.


5 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 10, 2015 at 8:42 pm

Rent,
"You know that the problem isn't that parents aren't "monitoring" sleep. The parents are desperate for you to finally do something about excessive homework. "

It occurs to me that there is a kind of hazing going on between the schools and our kids. There's a lot of talk about things like creativity, and wanting to foster lifelong learners, but there is an almost total disconnect when it comes to what they do.

I also wonder why we never revisit the purpose of education. Is it really helpful to keep holding up these score cards (grades)? And not really using them to help optimally educate each child, it's just a sorting mechanism. Are we helping these kids if so many of them are too busy doing homework that they have no time to achieve anything to make them interesting to colleges? No wonder they become petrified of a bad grade.

It is a common experience for kids who arrive at schools like Harvard and MIT, to realize for the first time in their lives that they aren't the smartest kid in the room. The kids here really ARE really smart, motivated, GOOD kids. But they're getting knocked down a peg (and more) through the hazing before they ever appreciate what they have/can be. The schools treat them like the hazing is somehow necessary or they'll all go to seed, or something.

I recently spent some time trying to upload a youtube video of my kid's youth symphony performance, and the high level of performance that group achieves never fails to amaze me. My kid love's the program because it's a nice mix of musical excellence and education - they are always clear that it's an educational program. Tonight it occurred to me that the kids work really hard, achieve what is indisputable through their hard work, but they don't get grades. Grades would probably make them all hate the program, and certainly wouldn't make them do better. I asked my kid how the orchestra director gets so much out of them, so much more than school programs. He said she doesn't pick on every little thing, but she gives them helpful feedback, has high expectations -- once in a blue moon she reads them the riot act -- but ordinarily treats the kids like she knows they have potential, and "tries to help us succeed."

Although the classical teachers hate it, my kid also improves fluently with advanced players in another genre of music, for which we only have the money to pay for lessons every other week, and he has very little time to practice. At first the lessons were so low key, I wondered how my kid was ever going to learn anything. But then amazing things just started to happen. I saw a TED talk not long ago about how to learn any language to fluency within 6 months that made it so clear - the speaker researched all the different approaches people have taken or surmised to teaching language fluency (immersion turned out not to be the fastest way), and I realized the music teacher had been providing all those same elements in teaching my child to improvise. When I mentioned this to the teacher, he said, It's not that learning the theory is unhelpful, but people think somehow if they learn all the theory it will lead to understanding music enough and improving, but, he said, I think it's like learning a language, you have to speak it...

What are we doing in school when we teach kids language? Is the goal to make them fluent speakers? Or to pass tests, make the grade? Do we make the instruction serve the hazing ritual, or do we keep refining it to engage students, make them want to learn, and best teach the language?

Math is, in a way, a language, the language of science. Science is itself a language, how we understand and describe the cosmos and our world. History is the language of our past. Social studies the language of our culture. Do we need to hold up the score card and haze these kids and make them think the learning is secondary to the scorecard, or work so hard without learning fluency -- when fluency might be achieved better without the grades/scorecards?

Why don't we trust hard work when it stems from fun and interesting and affirming endeavor? Where does this need to make the kids suffer come from, not get enough sleep, even as it undermines their sense of their potential through the great sort that is our system?

I look at my kid's symphony and see all of the kids achieving from years of hard work, plenty of rigor. You hear about kids in apocryphal stories whose parents made them play (Yo Yo Ma was one), but the ones I know here, like mine, asked for the instrument and play from a passion to play. No grades. No sleepless nights needed.


1 person likes this
Posted by When zero means one
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 10, 2015 at 11:12 pm

M-A has 6 periods per day and PAUSD high schools have 7. That makes a huge difference. M-A also has a "zero period" that starts at 7:50.

Perhaps someone from M-A can weigh in on what % of students take a zero period (and whether academic classes are offered in "zero period" vs PE). For those who do, they start school at 7:50 4 of 5 days (so much for a late start). Good news - no matter what, everyone at M-A gets at least one guaranteed late start day at 9:40. For students who stick to 6 periods, they indeed start school at 8:45, 9:25 and 9:40. Web Link
The 6 period schedule also makes it possible for them to get out a little earlier in the afternoon than PA schools.

Can someone weigh in on how many students at Gunn take a zero period - and whether academic courses are offered during this time - or "just" PE? Paly's web site doesn't show a zero period in their bell schedule. Does this mean they don't have one?








4 people like this
Posted by Long Time Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 10, 2015 at 11:23 pm

My son tells me that many students at Paly are using "study drugs".
He says that they getting them by claiming they have "fake" ADD/ADHD, or buying them from other students.

Ritalin/Concerta/Adderall/Etc.

Taking these will definitely interfere with sleep.

These drugs are supposed to help with "Executive Functioning".

Right.

So they do Facebook/Instagram/Vine/Twitter/Videos first, and then begin their homework when their parents are winding down & fading.

As a parent of teens, I feel that computer addiction is more of a problem than too much homework.

The screen addiction is causing them to delay starting their homework until too late and possibly use drugs to help them stay up to do it.

I don't think the homework load is over the top, although it used to be like that at Jordan a few years ago.





4 people like this
Posted by BetterNightSleep
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 10, 2015 at 11:30 pm

A friend reminded me that the parcel tax is coming up for renewal. It is used almost entirely for operational expenses , like SALARIES.

It also needs 2/3 rd majority to pass.

So a small scale revolt like Maybell will deliver a message that parents are dissatisfied with homework loads, and patronizing parent-blaming.

No homework policy == No parcel tax!



7 people like this
Posted by School time mangement
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2015 at 12:53 am

Long Time Parent

Most students are not on drugs. Social media is actually social connection - it can be good. These kids don't go out to see friends, at least they connect on their phones. Paren

Think about the amount of time during school that students are in a structured environment, sitting in class. School time is a HUGE amount of the day, and it can take a lot to unwind just from going to school.

Homework can't be the other centerpiece in students' lives. Worrying about what interferes with homework is not the way to go. Homework interferes with the rest of the day (after school) and schools need to time-manage homework appropriately.


3 people like this
Posted by Time management
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 11, 2015 at 7:29 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 11, 2015 at 8:27 am

Time mnagement,
Are we to assume from your post that your family is one if the small minority whose high school child actually spends only 90 minutes after school on homework? [Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 11, 2015 at 9:38 am

I agree that phones, social media are important in the lives of our teens today and take the place with a lot of the interaction we used to do with our friends in high school. Socialization is important in the development of teen and our lifestyles is not compatible with that for two reasons. There isn't the time available and there isn't anywhere to hang out that's fun anymore.

My own teen complains of not being able to hang out with friends on a regular basis. I was talking with another parent this past few days who said that their sophomore was actually lonely and complaining of having no friends, and this was someone who had lots of friends in middle school but they have lost the connection (this was at JLS where students get split between Gunn and Paly for high school). Being unable to make friends because all students are busy, even at lunch times, is another reason for teens to have low self esteem and can lead to depression and worse.


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Posted by School time management
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2015 at 10:21 am

Time management,

90 minutes of homework every day, just saying, is a lot.

It's a ton actually.

Pretend an adult's work shift of 8 - 3 pm shift. Your boss tells you that every day, in addition, you add 90 minutes of work. And the 90 minutes are clock solid, no bathroom brakes in there.

Your work day, becomes 8 - 4:30 PM. But it's not you, it's young adults.

90 minutes doesn't even begin to describe Honors and AP classes, so congratulations kid, forget about them if you want to have a normal schedule. Why not just stop offering Honors and AP classes? WIthout boundaries I think they should not be offered.


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Posted by School time management
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2015 at 10:26 am

THen again, you have some regular classes that have more homework than AP.

Until there is a homework policy which includes Honors and AP classes, really there should be no excuses from the Board.

This one is on the Board, not Mr. J or anyone else.


Like this comment
Posted by Time Management
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 11, 2015 at 10:33 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 11, 2015 at 11:12 am

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by School time management
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2015 at 11:56 am

Just want to point out that 90 minutes is best case scenario for 7th grade and High School is probably minimum 2 hours.

The whole point of time management is that choice of what you do with your time is constrained by the amount of time you have allocated to whatever you have on your schedule. If you asked Picasso how much time he needed for himself after school, whether he used it to paint or watch TV or to think about one thought the entire day, you'd see those 2 hours as a fairly sizable constraint.

There is great value to homework, but in clock-time, it has marginal diminishing returns for each individual, it depends on what they want to do with their "free" time.

A homework policy can't pass judgement on what is done with free clock time, it's purpose is to more accurately give students a way to PLAN their time.

It's a partnership, to manage time, it does require boundaries, and the schools need to improve their end of the deal. Board, that means your actions.


7 people like this
Posted by Paly Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 11, 2015 at 12:16 pm

@ When zero: PAUSD only requires 7 classes in 9th grade. Many take only 6 classes thereafter (and some take 5 in senior year) and good colleges are fine with it as long as there are enough core classes.

As far as time management, even diligent students uninterested in social media can have tons of homework that competes with sleep.


4 people like this
Posted by It's a Fact
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 11, 2015 at 5:43 pm

Most, if not all, sleep researchers state that at a time in their lives when they need MORE sleep, and their sleep patterns have changed to demand later sleep hours, the school systems overload them with demands of more homework, extra-curricular requirements for college, and more projects due in short order. Also earlier start times for classes.

Growth hormone is produced ONLY during sleep hours, also a fact.

Sleep deficits can wait until full adulthood. The schools and colleges should respect the need for teens nine-and-half hour sleep requirement, not add to the early-onset health problems that sleep deprivation causes.

It is ridiculous that even preschoolers are now getting homework, at a time when they do not even have the attention span for it!!!!


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Posted by When zero means one
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 11, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Thanks Paly Mom. It would be interesting to have actual data on that. My aim was to answer the earlier question of how M-A can create a schedule that allows students such a significant true late start (without affecting after-school sports). If it's true that most Paly/Gunn students only take 5 or 6 periods a day - perhaps a formal 6 period day is worth examining (as a way of responding to sleep rhythms of adolescents)?

My other point - wherever teens go to school, offering academic courses in a zero period renders claims of "late start" efforts a bit hollow (in my opinion). I would be interested in how many students we are talking about that start school at 7:20 am in Palo Alto - and whether the number of academic classes offered in "zero period" grown, shrunk, or stayed the same in recent years.


2 people like this
Posted by Long Time Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 11, 2015 at 7:54 pm

Both my kids estimate that a whopping 85% of all the students at Paly are using drugs to study.
And the Asian students are part of it too, if not more they say.
Whether you want to believe that percentage number is up to you.
The main thing is that these drugs are widely used and they do interfere with sleep.
And most all kids likely use highly caffeinated drinks to also keep them going.
Any program to understand and monitor sleep should definitely include a discussion on these widely used and easily accessible drugs.
To not include it, would be ridiculous.



2 people like this
Posted by When zero means one
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 11, 2015 at 8:48 pm

We all need to be dealing with true data - reliable numbers - if we are to act responsibly (and respect teens in Palo Alto). Just checked the most recent data from PAUSD - Web Link

3-5% of the 1440 students surveyed said they'd used Ritalin/Adderal (without a doctor's order) at least once in their lives - numbers that are amazingly consistent with earlier surveys (see same web link).

If the % is accurate when applied across 4 grades at our 2 schools - that's about 200 teens taking prescription medication not prescribed for them. Teens we care about. Serious, but extreme (not typical) behavior - and stimulants absolutely should be included in a discussion on teens, sleep and health.


5 people like this
Posted by Pay for Play
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 11, 2015 at 10:29 pm

Kids are using study drugs -- and it gets worse in college.

Cheating is also rampant.

Sleep deprivation results in depression and anxiety.

Some of the depressed and anxious kids will attempt self-harm.

Cheating, depression, anxiety, drugs, binge drinking, promiscuity, self-harm.

The harms of excessive homework are many. They are known. What are the benefits again?

Here are the benefits: (1) covers up for poor and lazy teaching; (2) makes a school seem "rigorous"; (3) provides a visible signal to worried parents that the school is preparing students for college thus getting parents off the backs of the teachers (see 1).

While I appreciate the suggestion of the parcel tax strike I think a better idea is to let the Board of Ed know that you do NOT support a pay increase for teachers unless and until they agree to follow the HW policy and use Schoology. It is outrageous that 2 years later we have no enforcement of our hw policy because we don't even know what teachers are assigning what when. Why not? They don't have to tell us. [Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Experienced Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 11, 2015 at 11:11 pm

I'm not buying it that so many kids are on study drugs. Plus, the ones who have used Ritalin without a doctor's order are simply seeking to get high. One cannot use Ritalin on an as-needed basis.

I do think that there are more young children in this nation who are on Ritalin than necessary. Sleep deprivation can result in ADHD symptoms.

As for those who engage in: "Cheating, depression, anxiety, drugs, binge drinking, promiscuity, self-harm", their parents are to blame for not being attentive to their children's needs. Parents need to support their children instead of simply hoping things will improve the following year.


4 people like this
Posted by BetterNightSleep
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 12, 2015 at 6:58 am

Pay for Play:"While I appreciate the suggestion of the parcel tax strike I think a better idea is to let the Board of Ed know that you do NOT support a pay increase for teachers"

...um, hasn't the public already told the board. There were dozens of people who spoke when the homework policy passed. Do you imagine they are unaware ? That their memory is so poor that they have forgotten?


You can tell the board no raises for teachers, but in practice it does not work. Your name is on record speaking out against teachers. The retaliation against your kid is all but certain. (Remember, we have that problem too ...)

So the dysfunctional environment we have prevents real communication and problem solving. This leads to even more unilateral moves and further raises the stakes.

Up until now, there has been no motivation for the board or teachers to listen to parents. So homework and stress continue, lemon teachers persist, the middle schools continue to burnout students and parents are blamed: see the post above "parents are to blame for not being attentive to their children's needs"

It is very much a Take -it-or-Leave it attitude. If you don't like it, send your kid to private school.

Those are poor options. I choose to vote my conscious, it sends a message, and there is no retaliation on my kid.


1 person likes this
Posted by Choices
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 12, 2015 at 8:45 am

Paly and Gunn should not be criticized for alerting students to the importance of sleep on the eve of class registration where students will be CHOOSING how many advanced classes to take next year. They are trying to HELP students assess and plan their commitments keeping good health habits in mind.

There are lots of good parenting ideas tucked into the reader posts here which I hope will get shared beyond this discussion, like Paly Parent's idea that phones be turned off at bedtime and Crescent Park Dad's suggestion that homework be done at the kitchen table away from online distractions.

High school is when students learn that they can't do everything and, with guidance from parents and schools, how to chose.

"Zero period" is an OPTION offered to students who want an earlier start. It works for students who are morning people like those who go to sleep early and get up early.

The average hours of daily homework in our high schools was collected in 2010. That was before the district's homework policy was passed so the total hours of homework teachers assign now, post-policy, may be lower.

Here is how thousands of PAUSD high school students responded to the Developmental Assets survey question "How much time do you spend doing homework outside of school?":

9th grade.

0/30 minutes or less/btw 30 and 60 minutes: 7%
1 hour: 13%
2 hours: 44%
3 hours or more:37%

The 10 minutes/grade advice I heard that the homework committee was using works out to 1.5 hours of homework a night for 9th graders taking all non-advanced classes. Approximately 40% of PAUSD 9th graders had that.

The rest did not but many of them OPTED to take advanced classes like Advanced English, which at Paly almost all 9th graders take, honors math, and honors biology.

10th grade.

0/30 minutes or less/btw 30 and 60 minutes: 6%
1 hour: 7%
2 hours: 42%
3 hours or more: 45%

Again, it looks like 40% or so of PAUSD 10th graders had 1.67 hours or less of homework a night which is what 10 minutes/grade pencils out to.

11th grade.

0 / 30 minutes or less / btw 30 and 60 minutes: 7%
1 hour: 7%
2 hours: 28%
3 hours or more: 58%

12th grade.

0 / 30 minutes or less / btw 30 and 60 minutes: 11%
1 hour: 10%
2 hours: 27%
3 hours or more: 53%

I heard somewhere that 70% of juniors and seniors take APs, AT THEIR OPTION.

BTW School Time Management, your statement that "Some [AP classes] . . .do not count as college credit" looks not to be true in California's public colleges.

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by School time management
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2015 at 10:16 am

Choices

Is the suggestion to take less AP's and Honors classes to have healthier homework levels?

3 hours or more -

9th grade 37%,
10th grade 45%
11th grade 58%
12th grade 53%

Say 11th, and 12th grade go to 25% with 3 hours of less. Much healthier.

But PAUSD already has grade deflation, now the schools are saying take less AP's and be even less competitive when you apply to college? Get deflated grades and no AP's - but hey good news, less homework!

Sounds like snake oil to me. I bet there would still be a ton of homework. No boundaries, no deal.

At least PAUSD could limit AP's to a certain level, and let colleges know so that they would see that there is a limit. Colleges like to see that students challenged themselves as much as possible within the context of their school.

Maybe I am really not getting what you are saying. Maybe you are saying phones are the reason homework goes up every year. Phones are available since middle school, why would there be an increase in usage per grade level?


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Posted by School time management
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2015 at 10:27 am

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 12, 2015 at 10:42 am

I do not see Choices take on the data. Looking at the original survey, it looks to me like 80% or more of kids in all high school grades had homework exceeding the homework policy. I don't think the excuse that honors classes is the reason flies, because i think on the same survey, only about a quarter of 7th graders had homework within the policy and they don't have that excuse.

That data was abysmal enough. Why isnt there new data since the homework policy?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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