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December 19, 2012 NO-Tech-/LOW-Tech-a-Thon for Sandy Hook Elementary School By Christy Crawford
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    The outpouring of support for the Newtown, Connecticut, community has been tremendous, and ways to contribute abound as evidenced by the Connecticut PTSA website. As a technology integrationist, I have a thought for fundraising that has some beneficial side effects: Turn off electronics, tune into family, and then collect coins for Sandy Hook. This NO-tech-/LOW-tech-a-thon will bring participants closer to their own families and raise funds to help the people of Newtown.



    Why Take a Tech Sabbath

    We all know tech addicts: the teenager or adult who won't stop texting, even at the Thanksgiving table; the child who knows more TV show quotes or popular tweets than book titles; or the child who is unable to appropriately socialize because they lack consistent face-to-face interaction. So like most technology teachers, I spend the first days of school training students to redirect their focus from iPads and MacBooks toward human speakers. Students learn to control technology and their addictive impulses before technology controls our classroom. The same can be done in our communities. 

    This holiday season, relatively affordable mobile devices or handheld computers are being marketed to every demographic — adults, teenagers, toddlersand babies. What better time than now to begin regular tech sabbaths? Try a NO-tech-/LOW-tech-a-thon to unite family members for just a few minutes a night. 


    "Put Down the Remote"

    In an interview with MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, John Engel, cousin of slain 6-year-old Olivia Rose Engel said, "Why are you watching us? Put down the remote and go and kiss your 6-year-old. And if your child is 20, tell them you love them." 

    Try it. For every minute that your students tune out electronics and tune in loved ones, ask them to collect a penny or a coin. Before Valentine's Day, your students will have a substantive amount of money for any Newtown, Connectut, relief fund, including the Connecticut PTSA's Coins for Sandy Hook initiative. 

    Step 1: Inform school families and staff about your NO-tech-/LOW-tech-a-thon. Encourage fellow staffers to tune out electronics (even Facebook) and tune in to loved ones to benefit Sandy Hook families. 

    Step 2.  Have students collect canisters with plastic lids to hold donations. Cut a slit in the center of each canister lid. Print out, decorate, and glue "NO-tech-/LOW-tech-a-thon labels for Sandy Hook" to your canisters.  

    Step 3.  By February 14, send your contributions to 

               Connecticut PTSA's Sandy Hook Fund*

               60 Connolly Parkway

               Building 12

               Suite 103

               Hamden, CT 06514 





    Making Kids Feel Powerful in a Seemingly Powerless Situation

    Besides having students count up those tech-sabbath coins and talking, laughing, or eating with loved ones they can . . . 

    1. Create a "Winter Wonderland" for the students of Sandy Hook in their new school. Mail your most festive, one-of-a-kind snowflakes to the Connecticut PTSA at the address above. Snowflakes must be sent in before Saturday, January 12, 2013. For inspiration, check out Genia Connell's post with instructions for three-dimensional paper snowflakes.

    *For questions about "Snowflakes for Sandy Hook," "Coins for Sandy Hook," or ongoing fundraising efforts, you can email the Connecticut PTSA at To donate online, visit

    2.  Write letters (old-school or electronic) to elected officials regarding gun laws. (Check out for action tips, to write a letter to local or government officials, or to raise awareness with a pledge wall.)

    3. Create and/or sign petitions for better gun laws at (Compare and contrast gun laws in other countries  and include findings from the investigation in your petition or letters to officials.)

    4. Create thank you cards for family, friends, or community members that make students feel safe or loved. 


    Remind NO-tech-/LOW-tech-a-thon participants to take a few minutes a day to tune out electronics and tune in to someone they cherish. Willing to try a NO-tech-/LOW-tech-a-thon as part of a class or schoolwide New Year's resolution? Comment below or email me at for labels and flyers and to connect with other NO-tech-/LOW-tech-a-thon participants. Special thanks to educators Martha Andrews and Bari Alyse Rudin for their inspiration.

    For help discussing traumatic events with students, check out Scholastic's message to teachers from CEO Richard Robinson and a post from Top Teaching's Danielle Mahoney.



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