Articles

Steps for Cultivating a Love of Reading in Young Children

LA Johnson/NPR
LA Johnson/NPR

By Cory Turner, NPR

In his new book, Raising Kids Who Read, Daniel Willingham wants to be clear: There’s a big difference between teaching kids to read and teaching them to love reading.

And Willingham, a parent himself, doesn’t champion reading for the obvious reasons — not because research suggests that kids who read for pleasure do better in school and in life.

“The standard things you’ll hear about why kids should read I actually don’t think are very strong arguments,” he says. “Because if the goal is to become a good citizen or the goal is to make a lot of money, I can think of more direct ways to reach those goals than to read during your leisure time.”

Willingham wants his kids to love reading because, he says, “for me it’s a family value. It’s something that I love, something that I find important. I think I gain experiences I wouldn’t gain any other way by virtue of being a reader. And so naturally I want my children to experience that.”

The professor of psychology at the University of Virginia uses his new book to map out strategies for parents and teachers hoping to kindle that same passion for reading.

What are a few things we can do when kids are young to set them on a path to being passionate readers?

Before preschool, probably the most important thing you can do is to play games that help your child hear speech sounds: rhyming games, reading aloud books that have a lot of rhyme in them and other types of wordplay, like alliteration. That’s helpful.

Once they get that basic idea, you can get a little fancier. And these are the games that kids really love — where you play around with speech sounds.

If you had a child named Billy. You could say, ‘Daddy’s name is Cory. What if we took the first sound in Billy’s name, and my name is now Bory.’ That kind of stuff is comic gold for kids. I talk with a lot of kindergarten teachers who say it’s hard to get kids to stop doing stuff like that.

Banana-fana-fo-fana…

Exactly. You know, Dr. Seuss is full of that. Nursery rhymes are full of that. And it’s been known for a while that kids who grow up in homes where they are exposed to nursery rhymes learn to read more readily than other kids.

But how do you foster a love of reading in young children?

The most obvious is to be a model of someone who loves reading. One of the things I hit hard in this book is the idea of creating a sense in the child that this is what we value in our family. I think a lot of parents don’t appreciate what a powerful message that can be for kids — like the things that are on your wall, the rules you set in your household, who parents talk about as the people they respect.

You should model reading, make reading pleasurable, read aloud to your kid in situations that are warm and create positive associations. But also setting a tone where our family is one where we like to learn new things. We like to learn about the world, and a big part of that is reading. Developing a sense in the child that I am in a family of readers before the child can even read.

The second big piece I would recommend is you have to make reading the most appealing thing a child can do. It’s not enough that the child like reading. If they like reading but there’s something else available that they like more, they’re going to choose that. The easy way to start is to put books in places that your child would otherwise be bored. The most obvious one is in the car. Part of that is also making sure you’re not providing other types of ready entertainment at every moment.

My wife put a basket in our bathroom, full of kids magazines. My 6-year-old reads them voraciously, and now his 3-year-old brother copies him.

My 9-year-old is a very passionate reader, and I think her younger sister is too. But I think it’s in no small part that she grew up watching her older sister do this.

Do you think digital devices are a) keeping us from reading and b) keeping us from being able to focus?

There’s no evidence they’re keeping us from being able to focus. If you look at the way psychologists typically measure span of attention, there’s no evidence that it’s really declined in the last 50 years or so. The brain is plastic, but I think attention is so central to so much of what we do that it seems pretty improbable to me that attention span could shrink significantly. If it did, either we would all get really stupid or lots of other cognitive processes would have to adjust in some way.

I think there is something to what parents and teachers think they’re seeing. They feel like kids are more distractible than they were 10 years ago, and they blame digital devices. What all these digital devices have in common is they provide instant entertainment. And the entertainment they provide requires very little effort from me. It’s always available. There’s pretty much endless variety. So the consequence may be that span of attention hasn’t shrunk but rather what’s changed is our attitudes and beliefs. And our attitudes and beliefs are, ‘Bored is not a normal state of affairs. I really should never be bored.’

What’s your point of view when it comes to rewarding kids for reading?

Rewards have the real potential to backfire. You communicate to your child, ‘This is not something I expect you to do on your own.’ You pay people to do things that you think are unpleasant and that they wouldn’t do if you weren’t paying them. So, by paying your child for reading, you’re very clearly communicating to your child, ‘This is not something that I expect to be pleasurable for you.’

There is good empirical evidence that, when you pay people to do something, if you find the right reward they will do more of it. But once the reward stops, they will quite possibly do less of it. The reason being, they have a different attribution for why they were doing it in the first place. So the child who wasn’t paid looks back and says, ‘I’ve been reading this book because I’m the kind of kid who likes books.’ But if, instead, the attribution is, ‘I was reading this book because Dad paid me,’ now, if Dad is no longer paying him, he has no reason to read this book. That said, my recommendation is that a reward not be the first thing you try. But, if it is the only way to get a kid to read, then I would certainly consider it.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Q: What makes Finnish teachers so special? Answer: It’s not brains

David Cameron argues we need to train the smartest to teach. But Finnish universities select only 10% of applicants – and not the cleverest
child with Finnish maths text book

Finnish teacher training institutions aim to get students with a passion for teaching – rather than the most academically able. Photograph: Olivier Morin/AFP

When my niece was finishing school in Finland, more than anything else she wanted to become a primary teacher. Despite her genuine interest in teaching she failed to get into a teacher education programme at the University of Helsinki. She was smart and bright, yet she was not deemed qualified.

This is not unusual. Finnish universities regularly turn away applicants such as my niece to try again or to study something else. In fact, Finnish primary school teacher education programmes that lead to an advanced, research-based degree are so popular among young Finns that only one in 10 applicants is accepted each year. Those lucky students then have to study for five to six years before they are allowed to teach a class of their own.

There are those who think that the tough race to become a teacher in Finland is the key to good teaching and thereby to improving student achievement. Because only 10% of applicants pass the rigorous admission system, the story goes, the secret is to recruit new teachers from the top decile of available candidates. This has led many governments and organisations to find new ways to get the best and the brightest young talents into the teaching profession. Various fast-track teacher preparation initiatives that lure smart young university graduates to teach for a few years have mushroomed. Smarter people make better teachers … or do they?

Who exactly are those who were chosen to become primary teachers in Finland ahead of my niece? Let’s take closer look at the academic profile of the first-year cohort selected at the University of Helsinki. The entrance test has two phases. All students must first take a national written test. The best performers in this are invited on to the second phase, to take the university’s specific aptitude test. At the University of Helsinki, 60% of the accepted 120 students were selected on a combination of their score on the entrance test and their points on the subject exams they took to complete their upper-secondary education; 40% of students were awarded a study place based on their score on the entrance test alone.

Last spring, 1,650 students took the national written test to compete for those 120 places at the University of Helsinki. Applicants received between one and 100 points for the subject exams taken to earn upper-secondary school leaving diplomas. A quarter of the accepted students came from the top 20% in academic ability and another quarter came from the bottom half. This means that half of the first-year students came from the 51- to 80-point range of measured academic ability. You could call them academically average. The idea that Finland recruits the academically “best and brightest” to become teachers is a myth. In fact, the student cohort represents a diverse range of academic success, and deliberately so.

If Finnish teacher educators thought that teacher quality correlates with academic ability, they would have admitted my niece and many of her peers with superior school performance. Indeed, the University of Helsinki could easily pick the best and the brightest of the huge pool of applicants each year, and have all of their new trainee teachers with admirable grades.

But they don’t do this because they know that teaching potential is hidden more evenly across the range of different people. Young athletes, musicians and youth leaders, for example, often have the emerging characteristics of great teachers without having the best academic record. What Finland shows is that rather than get “best and the brightest” into teaching, it is better to design initial teacher education in a way that will get the best from young people who have natural passion to teach for life.

The teaching profession has become a fashionable topic among education reformers around the world. In England, policy-makers from David Cameron down have argued that the way to improve education is to attract smarter people to be teachers. International organisations such as the OECD and McKinsey & Company, Sir Michael Barber for Pearson, and in the US, Joel Klein, former New York education chancellor now working for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, have all claimed that the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers. These are myths and should be kept away from evidence-informed education policies and reforms.

A good step forward would be to admit that the academically best students are not necessarily the best teachers. Successful education systems are more concerned about finding the right people to become career-long teachers. Oh, and what happened to my niece? She applied again and succeeded. She graduated recently and will be a teacher for life, like most of her university classmates.

  • Pasi Sahlberg is visiting professor at Harvard graduate school of education and author of Finnish Lessons 2.0: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland?
Articles

Facebook map shows Yankees are still America’s team

 Uh oh, people are gonna be mad at that headline!
Want a general cross section of what Major League Baseball team is liked most by region? Of course you do. It’s very important. So here, thanks to Facebook, is a color-coded map, by county, with the most popular team in terms of Facebook likes. Obviously this can’t be 100 percent accurate because not all MLB fans are on Facebook, but the number of participants in this far exceeds any sort of polling people do on any subject.Let’s have a look (larger version here):Items of note:

– The Yankees are, unsurprisingly, the most popular team in the nation and, per Facebook, we see them above in at least one county in 24 different states. So let’s stop with the “no one but the media cares about the Yankees” comments, please. (I know, I know, this is a suggestion that will go unheeded). TV Ratings, Internet pageviews and, yes, Facebook “likes” continue to show it’s the complete opposite.

– You don’t see a single county above for the Mets or Athletics while the Yankees and Giants have large areas. The White Sox only have four counties while the Cubs have a massive following. The Dodgers dwarf the Angels and Padres in SoCal, too. This isn’t all too surprising. We know which regional “rivalry” teams are more popular. This indirectly causes fans of the less liked teams to proclaim that “real baseball fans” like theirs. You hear that, Yankees, Giants, Cubs and Dodgers fans: You are fake baseball fans!

– The Blue Jays have zero counties in the United States, but almost all of them in Canada. Not shocking.

Fun items:

– Hawaii is all Giants except Oahu, which is Yankees. I’m guessing maybe because this is where Honolulu is located and maybe has the most transplants? Maybe?

– Alaska’s a cross section of Yankees, Red Sox and Mariners.

– That random county in the middle of Oregon goes Red Sox, while the rest of the state is either Giants or Mariners. Interesting.

– And then a random Pirates county in Idaho!

– Speaking of, I see five colors in Idaho (Mariners, Giants, Yankees, Red Sox, Pirates), five in Montana (Mariners, Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs and Twins), five in Louisiana (Astros, Yankees, Red Sox, Braves and Rangers) and five in New Mexico (Diamondbacks, Yankees, Rockies, Red Sox and Rangers). The leader, though, is Nebraska with six different favorite teams (Rockies, Yankees, Red Sox, Royals, Twins and Cubs).

Anyway, I found this interesting. I’m from central Indiana and I’m often asked from people in other states who the popular teams are here. It’s a mix of Cubs, Reds, White Sox and even some Cardinals, Indians or Tigers fans. But mostly Cubs, I felt like. The Facebook map above backs it up.

 http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/25131696/facebook-map-shows-yankees-are-still-americas-team

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Finland’s school reforms won’t scrap subjects altogether

A move towards ‘phenomenon-based’ teaching has been divisive in Finland. Kimmo Brandt/EPA

Finland’s plans to replace the teaching of classic school subjects such as history or English with broader, cross-cutting “topics” as part of a major education reform have been getting global attention, thanks to an article in The Independent, one of the UK’s trusted newspapers. Stay calm: despite the reforms, Finnish schools will continue to teach mathematics, history, arts, music and other subjects in the future.

But with the new basic school reform all children will also learn via periods looking at broader topics, such as the European Union, community and climate change, or 100 years of Finland’s independence, which would bring in multi-disciplinary modules on languages, geography, sciences and economics.

It is important to underline two fundamental peculiarities of the Finnish education system in order to see the real picture. First, education governance is highly decentralised, giving Finland’s 320 municipalities significant amount of freedom to arrange schooling according to the local circumstances. Central government issues legislation, tops up local funding of schools, and provides a guiding framework for what schools should teach and how.

Second, Finland’s National Curriculum Framework is a loose common standard that steers curriculum planning at the level of the municipalities and their schools. It leaves educators freedom to find the best ways to offer good teaching and learning to all children. Therefore, practices vary from school to school and are often customised to local needs and situations.

Phenomenon-based learning

The next big reform taking place in Finland is the introduction of a new National Curriculum Framework (NCF), due to come into effect in August 2016.

It is a binding document that sets the overall goals of schooling, describes the principles of teaching and learning, and provides the guidelines for special education, well-being, support services and student assessment in schools. The concept of “phenomenon-based” teaching – a move away from “subjects” and towards inter-disciplinary topics – will have a central place in the new NCF.

Integration of subjects and a holistic approach to teaching and learning are not new in Finland. Since the 1980s, Finnish schools have experimented with this approach and it has been part of the culture of teaching in many Finnish schools since then. This new reform will bring more changes to Finnish middle-school subject teachers who have traditionally worked more on their own subjects than together with their peers in school.

Schools decide the programme

What will change in 2016 is that all basic schools for seven to 16-year-olds must have at least one extended period of multi-disciplinary, phenomenon-based teaching and learning in their curricula. The length of this period is to be decided by schools themselves. Helsinki, the nation’s capital and largest local school system, has decided to require two such yearly periods that must include all subjects and all students in every school in town.

One school in Helsinki has already arranged teaching in a cross-disciplinary way; other schools will have two or more periods of a few weeks each dedicated to integrated teaching and learning.

In most basic schools in other parts of Finland students will probably have one “project” when they study some of their traditional subjects in a holistic manner. One education chief of a middle-size city in Finland predicted via Twitter that: “the end result of this reform will be 320 local variations of the NCF 2016 and 90% of them look a lot like current situation.”

You may wonder why Finland’s education authorities now insist that all schools must spend time on integration and phenomenon-based teaching when Finnish students’ test scores have been declining in the most recent international tests. The answer is that educators in Finland think, quite correctly, that schools should teach what young people need in their lives rather than try to bring national test scores back to where they were.

What Finnish youth need more than before are more integrated knowledge and skills about real world issues, many argue. An integrated approach, based on lessons from some schools with longer experience of that, enhances teacher collaboration in schools and makes learning more meaningful to students.

Students involved in lesson design

Pupils will have a hand in planning classes. Markku Ojala/EPA

What most stories about Finland’s current education reform have failed to cover is the most surprising aspect of the reforms. NCF 2016 states that students must be involved in the planning of phenomenon-based study periods and that they must have voice in assessing what they have learned from it.

Some teachers in Finland see this current reform as a threat and the wrong way to improve teaching and learning in schools. Other teachers think that breaking down the dominance of traditional subjects and isolation of teaching is an opportunity to more fundamental change in schools.

While some schools will seize the opportunity to redesign teaching and learning with non-traditional forms using the NCF 2016 as a guide, others will choose more moderate ways. In any case, teaching subjects will continue in one way or the other in most Finland’s basic schools for now.

Teach For Finland? Why it won’t happen.

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You’ve certainly heard of Teach For America but you may not know that its founder, Wendy Kopp, now runs a related organization called Teach For All which is a network of TFA-like school reform organizations in a few dozen countries around the world. One place there isn’t such an affiliate is in Finland. Why that is so is explained in the following post by Finnish educator and scholar Pasi Sahlberg, who is one of the world’s leading experts on school reform and educational practices. Sahlberg is the author of the best-selling “Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn About Educational Change in Finland?” — originally published in 2011 and just republished in an updated edition – which details how Finland created its world-class school system. The former director general of Finland’s Center for International Mobility and Cooperation, Sahlberg is now a visiting professor of practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He has written a number of important posts for this blog, including “What if Finland’s great teachers taught in U.S. schools,” and “What the U.S. can’t learn from Finland about ed reform.” Here is a new piece that debunks some myths about teachers and teacher preparation. You can find more about him here on his website.

By Pasi Sahlberg

If you ask anyone why kids do better in school in Finland than other countries, you will probably hear one answer more often anything else: They have great teachers. It is true that Finnish teachers are well prepared, widely respected and commonly trusted professionals. But are education systems successful just because of great teachers? Many would emphatically say “yes.” I would say, however, “not so fast!”

Many of us are delighted that teachers are now recognized as key players in efforts to improve the quality of education systems. The International Summit on Teaching Profession, an annually organized gathering of education ministers and union leaders around the world, is just one of the new forums where teachers are at the center of attention. We now know more and understand better teachers’ lives and their work as a result of increased academic research and global surveys done by international organizations such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Education International (EI). However, the extent that teachers can make a difference in student learning in school remains a question with different answers.

In Finland, entry into teacher education is one of the most competitive among any field in higher education. Since all teachers must hold advanced academic degrees and they are therefore relatively well-paid and protected professionals, teaching is an attractive career choice among young Finns. And yes, teachers in Finland also have good working conditions in schools and a moderate teaching load by international standards. According to the recent Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) by the OECD, middle school teachers in Finland teach, on average, 21 hours and work 32 hours a week.

A frequently cited claim is that the best-performing education systems recruit their teachers from the pool of brightest graduates. Whatever that means, it’s a myth not supported by evidence. The logic is that the smarter the person entering the teaching profession, the better teacher she or he will become. Getting the best and the brightest into teaching has therefore become a policy mantra repeated in education policies and reforms around the world.

There are those who argue that fast-track teacher preparation models, like Teach For America and its sister organizations in many countries, are justified by referring to more successful education systems like Finland. They say that just as Finland selects its teacher candidates from the best available young people, these alternative teacher preparation programs recruit only the best to become teachers in demanding schools with a notable proportion of disadvantaged children.

Then there are those who go even further, claiming that there are many similarities between the Finnish and TFA conception of teaching. I would argue that these two could not be further apart from one another. Here are three reasons why.

Teacher education vs. short-course preparation. All teachers in Finland must hold a master’s degree either in education (primary school teachers) or in subjects that they teach (lower- and upper-secondary school teachers). Primary school teachers in Finland go through rigorous academic education that normally lasts five to six years and can only be done in one of the research universities that offer teacher education degrees. This advanced academic program includes modules on pedagogy, psychology, neuroscience, curriculum theories, assessment methods, research methods and clinical practical training in teacher training school attached to the university. Subject teachers complete advanced academic studies in their field and combine that with an additional year of an educational program. This approach differs dramatically from the one employed by TFA, requiring only five or six weeks of summer training for college graduates, with limited clinical training in the practice of teaching.

Life-time career vs. short-term experience. Teaching is a competitive career choice in Finland and therefore very popular among upper-secondary school graduates. According to a recent study on the teaching profession in Finland, four out of five teachers are satisfied with their work and just about 9 percent of teachers have left the teaching profession for some other job. In 2012, a Finnish teacher’s career lasted approximately 40 years, while a typical teacher has about 16 years of teaching experience. During their work in school, most teachers – in fact, over 95 percent – are members of the Trade Union of Education in Finland (OAJ), an association of all educators, which belongs to the Confederation of Unions for Academic Professionals in Finland (AKAVA). This is strikingly different from TFA corps members who only commit to teach for two years and normally have loose connections to professional communities of teachers. In 2012, a study on teachers in America shows, the typical teacher in the United States was someone in his or her fifth year. By contrast, 20 years ago, the typical teacher in the United States was in his or her sixteenth year.

Social capital vs. human capital in the teaching profession. In Finland, teaching is regarded as a team sport built on teacher collaboration. Teachers are members of professional teams that share the same goals and purposes. Most schools in Finland have both physical space and time for teachers to work together within every school day. School improvement and professional development focus on enhancing personal work and organizational performance and they normally have strong emphasis on teamwork, collaboration with teachers and schools, and shared leadership. Enhancing social capital is as important as improving human capital in Finnish schools. This differs from the logic of the fast-track teacher preparation programs that build on human capital and often undermine the role of social capital, such as professional learning communities and teacher networks, as the critical element of high-quality teaching and learning in school.

It is true that only about 10 percent of those who send an application to primary school teacher education programs in Finnish research universities will be accepted each year. But that doesn’t mean that Finland recruits teacher candidates from the top 10 percent of upper-secondary school graduates. The admission system is designed in a way that it gives all students interested in becoming a teacher an equal starting point. The students that are recruited to academic teacher education programs each year at the University of Helsinki, for example, have surprisingly diverse academic profiles. The typical freshman teacher education student is one who had slightly above average grades as an upper-secondary student and slightly above average scores on the matriculation exam.

Finnish teacher educators don’t think that superior academic performance would necessarily correspond with being a great teacher. Selection to teacher education in Finland focuses on finding those individuals who have the right personality, advanced interpersonal skills, and the right moral purpose to become lifelong educators. TFA is for many a stepping-stone to prestigious careers in law, banking, business, and public policy while in Finland teaching is a lifetime commitment.

And because Finns think of teaching as a high-status profession akin to medicine, law, or engineering, there is no room for Teach For Finland, just as there’s no room for Cure for Finland or any other short cut to trusted professions.

Links

5 Ways to Stay Safe (Relatively) on the Internet for Parents and Students

 

Click on any title to learn more about each tip.

1- Enable SafeSearch

By enabling SafeSearch, you can filter out most of the mature content that you or your family may prefer to avoid. If an inappropriate result does sneak through, you can report it to Google.

2- Filter YouTube Content by Enabling Safety Mode

If you’d prefer to not to see mature or age-restricted content as you browse YouTube, scroll to the bottom of any YouTube page and enable Safety Mode. Safety Mode helps filter out potentially objectionable content from search, related videos, playlists, shows, and films.

3- Control what your family Sees on The Web

If you want to control which sites your family can visit on the Internet you can use Supervised Users in Google Chrome. With Supervised Users you can see the pages your user has visited and block the sites you don’t want your user to see.

4- Limit access to just approved apps and games

Want to share your tablet without sharing all your stuff? On Android tablets running 4.3 and higher, you can create restricted profiles that limit the access that other users have to features and content on your tablet. Learn more about this feature from this page.

5- Use app ratings to choose age-appropriate apps

Just like at the movies, you can decide which Google Play apps are appropriate for your family by looking at the ratings: everyone, low maturity, medium maturity, or high maturity. You can filter apps by level, and also lock the filtering level with a simple PIN code (keeping other users from accidentally disabling the filter).

Where Are the Hardest Places to Live in the U.S.?

This article was originally posted in the NY TImes:

The Upshot came to this conclusion by looking at six data points for each county in the United States: education (percentage of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree), median household income, unemployment rate, disability rate, life expectancy and obesity. We then averaged each county’s relative rank in these categories to create an overall ranking.

(We tried to include other factors, including income mobility and measures of environmental quality, but we were not able to find data sets covering all counties in the United States.)

 

We used disability — the percentage of the population collecting federal disability benefits but not also collecting Social Security retirement benefits — as a proxy for the number of working-age people who don’t have jobs but are not counted as unemployed. Appalachian Kentucky scores especially badly on this count; in four counties in the region, more than 10 percent of the total population is on disability, a phenomenon seen nowhere else except nearby McDowell County, W.Va.

Remove disability from the equation, though, and eastern Kentucky would still fare badly in the overall rankings. The same is true for most of the other six factors.

The exception is education. If you exclude educational attainment, or lack of it, in measuring disadvantage, five counties in Mississippi and one in Louisiana rank lower than anywhere in Kentucky. This suggests that while more people in the lower Mississippi River basin have a college degree than do their counterparts in Appalachian Kentucky, that education hasn’t improved other aspects of their well-being.

As Ms. Lowrey writes, this combination of problems is an overwhelmingly rural phenomenon. Not a single major urban county ranks in the bottom 20 percent or so on this scale, and when you do get to one — Wayne County, Mich., which includes Detroit — there are some significant differences. While Wayne County’s unemployment rate (11.7 percent) is almost as high as Clay County’s, and its life expectancy (75.1 years) and obesity rate (41.3 percent) are also similar, almost three times as many residents (20.8 percent) have at least a bachelor’s degree, and median household income ($41,504) is almost twice as high.

http://goo.gl/pacOSn

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Articles

7 Chrome Apps for Science (STEM) Education

1- 3D Solar System

This is a 3D solar system simulation application, which gives you the approximate location of the planets in the solar system at different time, and some information about each one of them.

2- Anatomy 3d

Anatomy 3D provides you with a bunch of interactive tools to use to dissect, explore and learn about the human body in 3D. The tool is also available for Android and iOS users.

3- Anatomy Games

This extension offers users a variety of anatomy games and atlases to help them learn about human anatomy

4- Planetarium

Planetarium is a beautiful interactive sky map that students can use to explore the stars and learn about planets. The tool shows over 1500 stars with a magnitude of up to “+5”.

5- Useful Periodic Table

This is a periodic table of the elements that has all the elements and most of their respective properties collected and stored in one easy to use and simple to find location.  Contained within this periodic table is a unit converter that will convert some of the scientific dimensions.  Also, containing links to wikipedia for further literature on that element that you wish to know.  Great for students because of the elements quiz contained within.

6- BioDigital Human

The BioDigital Human is a 3D platform that simplifies the understanding of anatomy, disease and treatments. Explore the body in 3D!

7- Anatomy Skills : Bones

Learn all of the major bones in the human body using three different modes: Learn, Game and Quiz. The app covers all of the major bones in the body from the phalanges to the femurs. Carefully selected graphics make the features easy to identify.

10 Must Reads about the “New” Literacies or 21st Century Learning

The literacy landscape is rapidly evolving to the extent that we can no longer expect what it will be like in the next coming years. Regardless of the nomenclature, whether you call them new literacies, emerging literacies, 21st century literacies , the traditional concept of literacy has definitely undergone so much transformations and modifications in the last two decades especially in the light of the the new technological advancements and the emergence of new forms of using and interacting with text. Literacy now entails more than just being able to decode (read) and encode (write) text, but also includes the ability to express and communicate through a multimodal system of signs, the ability to analyze, evaluate, synthesize, critically appraise and share different forms of information.

For those of you interested in delving deep into the concept of new literacies, the academic works below are definitely a must read. These books will help you understand the essence of 21st century  literacies and enable you to conceptualize a working definition of what they mean in an academic context.

1- New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning  . By Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel

2- The New Literacies: Multiple Perspectives on Research and Practice. By Elizabeth A. Baker EdD (Editor), Donald J. Leu (Foreword)

3- A New Literacies Reader: Educational Perspectives (New Literacies and Digital Epistemologies). By Colin Lankshear (Editor), Michele Knobel (Editor).

4- What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media. By Scott McLeod (Editor), Chris Lehmann (Editor), David F. Warlick (Foreword)

5- Literacy in the New Media Age (Literacies). By Gunther Kress (Author)

6- Teaching with the Internet K-12: New Literacies for New Times. Donald J. Leu Jr. , Deborah Diadiun Leu , and  Julie Coiro.

7- Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. By Henry Jenkins (Author), Ravi Purushotma (Contributor), Margaret Weigel (Contributor), Katie Clinton (Contributor), Alice J. Robison (Contributor)

8- Handbook of Research on New Literacies. By Julie Coiro (Editor), Michele Knobel (Editor), Colin Lankshear (Editor), Donald J. Leu (Editor)

9- New Literacies In Action: Teaching And Learning In Multiple Media. By William Kist (Author)

10-  The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students through Digital Learning. By James Paul Gee

Educational Resources for Young Learners

A simple website of family-friendly videos. Also available as an iOS app.
A simple iOS app of family-friendly videos. Can also create collections of your favorite videos.
Subscribe to get a box of crafts, projects, and materials once a month for your little learners.
 Subscribe and get a box of do-it-yourself electronics projects for your young engineers.Want more? Check out these collections .App Friday Apps

This collection is curated by children’s media specialist Julie Brannon.

This one is curated by preschool teacher Anna-Karin Robertsson.