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Category Archives: Education

Are hand-helds making kids dumber?

Besides being a technology writer, I am also the husband of a Montessori teacher, and we are truly concerned about the effect of tablets and smart phones.

My wife has taught very young children for about 27 years, and we have begun to observe disturbing real-time effects in kids for whom hand-delds have become proxy toys and baby-sitters. These screens are being outsourced by parents to take on the other aspects of parenting – stimulating thought-processes, imagination, language development etc.

Perhaps she will not say it in so many words, so as co-director of her Montessori school, I think it is time I did.

You may hate what I have to say, but for all of you young parents who start your day by giving your kid a screen at breakfast “just to keep her quiet,” or let a child ‘play’ with a smart phone on the way to school, you are damaging or impairing his/her development. This is not just our opinion. This is based on ongoing observations, and there is plenty of new research on the subject.

Pediatricians and brain researchers have been telling us for years that real life not its digital approximation is essential to neuron development. Issues such as attention, cognitive delays, and “decreased ability to self-regulation” aka tantrums, are common problems parents seem to face. Research is pointing to these being related to over-stimulation by technology. Many call for urgent ‘media diets’ with kids.

Check with your pediatrician, or do some research. Don’t just Google “toddlers and smart screens” but observe a child’s social behaviors when there are no screens, vs soon after a child has spent an hour on one.

Below is a quick summary of some of the arguments.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2015 in Education, Technology

 

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My school profiled on US Dept. of Interior website

When Sec. Sally Jewell visited our school last week, little did we know how it would figure in the grander scheme of things. It was much more than a simple ‘air drop’ of a dignitary.

Turned out it was to kick off something bigger – a Listening Tour, of Native youth.

Yesterday we noticed that apart from the previous media coverage of this visit, the folks managing the communication for Secretary Jewell’s department had featured a lot of great shots of her engaging with our students. Two of the students featured are potential podcasters in my class on audio. Three are in robotics.

Here’s the video:

And below are some of my pictures taken at the event – also covered here on this blog.

This, taken in my class. Student Council president and robotics student explains how they approach a mission, program and document their work.

More pictures from my class blog, here

We often complain that government is tone deaf to much of what goes on in our communities.Speaking to Sec. Jewell, I could tell that this was much more than a token visit so as to report to the boss she’s been on the road.

We spoke of science. A lot! I mentioned that in the midst of so many changes in education, government seems to be not doing enough to promote science and technology.I mentioned that the State of the Union this year barely touched on STEM, despite Obama’s otherwise talking the talk on why we need more investment and more STEM teachers in science in schools. She was a good listener.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2015 in Education, Events, Robotics

 

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Visit by US Secretary of Interior to my class

Exciting morning yesterday with the visit of Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell to our school.

Sec. Jewell was kicking off to the Obama administration’s ‘Listening Tour’ in Arizona, visiting Native American schools and communities. She devoted a good part of her talk to stress the importance of science, in the four STEM areas. “I am the ‘E’ in STEM,” she said.

As part of her tour she stopped by my class to hear about the robotics program.

One of my students in robotics, who happens to be the president of the student council, explained our program and research projects.

Some media coverage, below.

 

Cronkite News, ASU

KJZZ Story – Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Begins Native Youth Listening

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2015 in Arizona, Education, Robotics

 

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Plans for more Collaboration at Digital Learning Day

In a time when pre-teens have Instagram accounts, and tablets readers have become the 4th screen (after TV, laptops, and smart phones), digital learning takes on new meaning.

For next month’s Digital learning Day, I plan to introduce students to some tools and processes that would prepare them for college and careers.

  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • Book Trailers
  • Wikis
  • Content Aggregation

Building on last year’s #DLDAY activities, adding more collaboration this year, means showing students the opportunities of collaborating with even those outside the walls of a school. I am thinking of technology experts, and students in another school –even in another country!

Yes, most schools have walled gardens, for good reason. Occasionally we pierce these walls, and #DLDay is that time of year when we could try out new things.

Suggestions are welcome!

Some useful background here:

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2015 in Ed-Tech, Education, Social Media

 

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Easy Content Curation Tools for Teachers

Content curation. It was a phrase slung around a lot about 5 years ago.

I wrote a lot about it then, in my IABC tech column etc. But today I have had to do some of this curation business when working on a lesson plan that has to be much more than links and words.

I began testing out a service called Lino (www.linoit.comto create a new ‘wall’ to support lessons in my class. It’s a bit like Padlet which I began testing last year.

The first test is to use it for a class on Book Trailers – a way to combine script writing, and microphone use with creating a promotional ‘trailer’ for a book. Also collecting facts, pictures, sounds, music tracks, video and slide decks in one convenient place. This is what one page looks like:

Lino_BookTrailer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curation could become a lesson in itself, to help students understand how embed codes work, respecting copyright, crediting sources etc.

If you want to check them out try both.

 
 

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Podcasting is hot stuff. Again!

There seems to be a growth spurt for podcasting.

I love the fact that the audio format has been on the upswing, even despite the explosion of screen-based communication options. Depending on who you ask, they will tell you video didn’t assassinate the radio star for various reasons. Such as

  • Podcasts is immensely portable, and does is perfect for multi-tasking
  • Podcasts capture the ‘authentic’ voice of the person or the moment being represented – no fake ‘DJ voice’ required
  • Podcasts have in their DNA something akin to long-form journalism – deep dives into content, rather than skimming a topic

  • Podcasts lend themselves to drama, even while being authentic. The nearest thing to the documentary.

My recent favorites are Snap Judgement, Serial, Invisibilia (former radio Lab producers), and Star Talk.

Apart from the usual line up of This American Life, For Immediate Release, and EdReach, an education podcast for Ed-tech matters I now dabble in.

 

Interestingly this year will be six years since I first got into podcasting. And this year may be the year we begin podcasts at my school. More on this in a later post!

 

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Permanent home for Mars Day

One of my other hats is to build content for my school website. This gives me a chance to dabble in some of the areas I used to, in my previous life :-)

I work with our Web person, Lori Diab, who created this marvelous spot on our website. Lori just happens to be a former IABC Member, so we kinda speak the same language.

It’s a work in progress, but contains:

  • Links to past activities
  • Scientists with whom we have connected
  • Winners of competitions
  • Organizations supporting Mars Day
  • Media reports
  • Interviews – upcoming 
The idea for the page title, ‘Next Stop, Mars’ was from Lori. Which is timely, considering so much being discussed –NASA, and aerospace companies — about humankind’s next planetary home. Astronaut, Scott Kelly, who is the twin brother of astronaut Mark Kelly, is on a mission that begins in March 2015.
Kody Ensley - Tim Olson

Kody Ensley, working on Robonaut-2 at Johnson Space Center. Kody spoke to our students in Oct. 2012.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2015 in Education, Media, Technology

 

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