Tuesday, October 6, 2015

New Screentime Recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. My Thoughts.

Finally! The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated their stance on screentime.  The new guidelines are better than the previously outdated ones which I critique here, here, and here, but there is still room for improvement. They continue to miss mark when it comes to the power of screens to make global connections, build learning networks, and bring people closer together.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
Here are some counter-points to consider.
Don’t Set Limits
The AAP suggests parents should set limits. While that might seem like good advice, it does little to empower young people to think about making good decisions for themselves. Rather than setting limits, talk to kids about what they care about and want to accomplish and help them figure out the best ways to do that.
Attentive Parenting Might Involve Screens
The AAP says attentive parenting requires face time away from screens. What it really means is that parents need to spend time with their kids. That might very well involve screens. Maybe you read a book aloud from a screen. Perhaps you recreate a building in Minecraft together. Perhaps you are a parent that travels and you facetime with your child (via a screen). Time away from screens is not the answer. Time being attentive to your child in their worlds with or away from screens is what is important.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

5 Free Digital Resources For #ELL #ESL #TESOL Students & Those Learning a Foreign Language

I took four years of Spanish during my school years, though you wouldn’t know it if you tried having a conversation with me in Spanish. My experience is not unusual. The way language is typically taught in the United States often does not result with language acquistion at the end. I wonder if things would have been different if I was a student today in a time when technology provides such terrific ways to learn languages.

Here are five free digital resources, that can support modern learners in language acquisition.

1) Duolingo
Has become a popular app to support the learning of another language. It’s gamification elements make it both fun and addictive. You can earn points for correct answers, race against the clock, and level up. The bite-sized lessons are effective and here is proof that it works. More than 100,000 classrooms are using Duolingo. Teachers can easily track their students’ progress, run in-class activities and assign homework. Here is the “How to use Duolingo in class: the guide.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Hottest Posts Everyone's Reading

Here’s the roundup of what's been popular on The Innovative Educator blog.

Taking the lead for another week is a new, free tool called Class Story which can be used to strengthen the home-school connection from Class Dojo. Next up was an overview of the new Google for Ed Certification Exams.  Rounding out third place were ideas to welcome parents, students, and the community into your school. I'm thrilled that post was the inspiration for last week's #Sunchat. 

There are a few more posts to round out the top including one that explains a learning model with no tests, teachers, or curriculum and an oldy about why we should allow students to use cell phones for learning.  I hope there's something that looks of interest to you.  If it does, check it out. Share it with your networks. If you're inspired, leave a comment.  
Sep 6, 2015, 
Sep 9, 2015, 
Sep 13, 2015, 
Sep 15, 2015, 
Jul 8, 2012, 
Aug 30, 2015, 
Sep 2, 2015, 
Sep 20, 2015, 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

6 Ideas to Inspire Anyone to Become A Make Believer #Makerspace #MakerFaire #WMF15

Guest post by Jackie Patanio
I never thought of myself as a maker... until this weekend. I participated in my first Education Forum and Maker Faire with my son, a mini maker in the works. Educators, kickstarters, & supporters were all at the forefront of the amazing maker movement. 
While there I was inspired to contemplate my passions and consider how I could make in my own life.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

#MakerFaire 2015 – Inspiration at a Price

Guest post by Lori Stahl-Van Brackle

I love Maker Faire! My car is covered in Maker Faire bumper stickers. The door to my computer lab is covered in Maker Faire postcards. I run Maker Camp over the summer in anticipation of Maker Faire. It is the weekend I look most forward to in the first month of the school year. You can find me at Maker Faire from open to close, both days, and I give Maker Faire as homework for all my students.

I should explain the homework assignment a little though. My school is located in Rego Park. We are exactly one mile for the NY Hall of Science, where the World Maker Faire is held. My students come from the surrounding area, Corona, Rego Park, Lefrak City, and Forest Hills. We have one of the most diverse populations in THE most diverse city in the world. That diversity includes over 40% low income students, 50+ different languages spoken, every continent represented in our student body, and every religion practiced. The diversity of my school is even more impressive when you take in the harmonious way our students, many of whom English is a second language, interact with each other.

My students have been attending World Maker Faire since the first one was held in 2010. Back then kids could get tickets for free through organizations such as MOUSE Squad. MOUSE Squad still offers students who are part of the program free tickets, but it’s become harder and harder to find free tickets for other students.

The price of tickets has risen as I’m sure, the cost of putting on the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth has risen. The faire started out in the parking lot of NY Sci and now takes over six fields. I’m not sure what the numbers were this year, but last year, when the Pope wasn’t in town, there were over 75,000 visitors each day. Among those were some of my over 300 students who had to find me and shout out “Halsey in the House!” to get extra credit.

This year I was inspired by Miss Piggy and decided to add to the extra credit assignment; students could take selfies with me. You can see some of them below.
Last year I saw more than 80 of my students over the course of the two days at faire. This year I saw about 30. When I asked my students who didn’t attend why they did not, the reason was disheartening:

Monday, September 28, 2015

3 Lessons From Student Makers - #MakerFaire #MakerED #makeEDU

If you want to know what it means to learn, you must visit a Maker Faire. There you'll find passionate teachers and parents whose students and children are making anything they can imagine. These are kids who can learn without being "tricked" as we sometimes hear adults say when talking about young people. They are making, doing, and learning in meaningful ways because they want to. 

Here are three lessons I learned from talking with young makers.

1) If You Like Playing Games, You Might Like Making Games.
I had the pleasure of meeting some of the young makers who not only play games, they make them. These young students came up with the ideas and concepts and were supported by parents, teachers, and mentors.  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Don't Compete with Social Media. Integrate It!

This week, I had some words via Twitter with Wake County Public Schools for making decisions about policies that affect students without bringing students into the conversation in a respectful way. Students were upset when they learned Snapchat was blocked and they took their concerns to Twitter.

I chimed in, sharing a Tweet that received a lot of Twitter attention making more than 5000 impressions.  I asked this:

Students started a petition that current has about 150 signatures asking their school to lift the ban.  On the petition students explain some ways they are using Snapchat for learning:
"Not only does Snapchat help us communicate with each other in and out of class, it helps quickly relay information between students for help on work. Just because there aren't school-related accounts on it, it's still a very useful tool and should not be blocked."
"There is no service at my school so those without iMessage cannot communicate with the outside world. Many use snapchat as a way to give information and updates throughout the day BRING IT BACK."
Teachers also chimed in sharing smart ways for using Snapchat.  For example Nikki Robertson explained Snapchat is used on the daily to tell stories of what is going on in her library.  

The most important point, however, probably came when I attended the Maker Faire Education Forum a few days later. Nancy Otero, known for her work with digital fabrication and project based learning was on a panel about "Making in Schools."  An audience member asked if making could compete with social media in schools.  I tweeted her response.

And this is what it comes down to. When we stop banning and competing with social media and start listening to our students, we can figure out ways to integrate this powerful platform into learning in ways that help students communicate and connect with the world and each other.  

And, you know what? It looks like all this "taking it to social media" may have worked. On Friday, the student who made this story news, Tweeted this:

If this is correct, then HT to @WCPSS for hearing school voice. Hearing and adjusting is good. Inviting students to the table to have a voice in the policies and guidelines that affect them is even better. 


Misunderstanding.  Student voice dismissed. Snapchat remains unblocked. 
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