Facebook, Apple, Google Executives Push STEM at Trump’s Tech Meeting

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, and Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, alongside a dozen other executives of major tech companies, met with Republican president-elect Donald Trump Wednesday to discuss jobs and the economy.

What ever happened after this meeting? Has any of these companies actually changed what they are/were doing?

Image Credit: Quartz.

Trump was relatively quiet about his plans for education while campaigning, but during the sit-down meeting at Trump Tower in New York City, a conversation about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education unfolded.

According to various reports, invitations were also extended to:

  • Jeff Bezoz, Amazon CEO;
  • Safra Katz, Oracle CEO;
  • Alex Karp, Palantir CEO;
  • Elon Musk, Tesla CEO and product architect;
  • Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO;
  • Larry Page, Alphabet CEO and Google co-founder;
  • Eric Schmidt, Alphabet executive chairman and former Google CEO;
  • Chuck Robbins, Cisco CEO; and
  • Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO.

Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal and other companies and a member of Trump’s transition team, was also in attendance and sat next to the president-elect. Notably, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was not at the meeting.

Recode reported that meeting attendees talked about developing fairer trade deals and creating jobs, emphasizing the importance of innovative technologies, like automation and advanced manufacturing. Cook brought up President Obama’s work to advance STEM education in K–12, including national computer science initiatives, stressing STEM’s impact on the U.S. economy. Additionally, Sandberg pushed the importance of STEM education for women and underrepresented minorities in the tech industry.

 

How to Support Teachers for 21st Century Learning

via eClassroom News

Experts weigh in on how administrators can support teachers in implementing collaboration and creativity

Implementing broad concepts like critical thinking and communication may seem like natural next steps to educators, but unless teachers receive support from school policy and infrastructure, providing students with a true 21st century education may not be so easy.

This was a key topic of discussion during a recent Connected Educator Month webinar, hosted by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) and EdLeader21—a national network of school and district leaders focused on integrating the 4Cs into education.

The 4Cs–communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity–are part of P21’s mission to help educators teach students 21st century skills. Webinar panelists said this task can’t be accomplished without support from school administrators in the way of space design, instructional practices, and school policy.

Dana Strother, chief academic officer at Douglas County School District in Colorado, said her district “looked at Bloom’s Taxonomy and vetted our state’s standards through the taxonomy” during an evaluation of instructional practice.

“Areas that were lacking we improved through what we call ‘World Class Outcomes,’ and instructional design that allows for the 4Cs. We also provided CIA curriculum and instruction alignment and wove authentic learning experiences into the curriculum for support,” she said.

The district also made it a priority to provide supporting infrastructure through district policy on risk-opportunities.

“It’s important to let teachers know, in various ways, but also through policy, that we support risk-taking opportunities, or new strategies, projects, or professional development opportunities that may be new or unique,” she said.

For example, Douglas County lets teachers experience inquiry-based professional development opportunities in order for teachers to learn through the same practices they’re expected to teach students.

“We’re asking teachers to incorporate new kinds of teaching that include the 4Cs, so why should teachers in turn be taught in a different manner? Sometimes by thinking outside of the box and going against traditional methods, especially from an administrator standpoint, the results are better,” Strother said.

Randy Fielding, chairman and founding partner of educational facilities planning and architectural design firm Fielding Nair International, said he believes school design also factors heavily into incorporating the 4Cs into a student’s daily life.

Fielding’s design firm tries to incorporate 20 “learning modalities” into school design, which include concepts, such as Independent Study, Peer Tutoring, Team Collaboration, and One-on-One Learning, to support the 4Cs of instruction.

“To have a truly 21st-century school, you have to inspire organic collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication, and focusing on design can help.”

“To have a truly 21st-century school, you have to inspire organic collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication, and focusing on design can help. For example, you could have a ‘watering hole’ space off hallways where students could casually converse; you could have a ‘cave space’ where students could reflect for independent thinking; and you could have a ‘campfire space’ where everyone gathers to collaborate,” Fielding said.

Panelists emphasized that it’s also important for administrators and teachers to understand that instruction focused on the 4Cs doesn’t just work for certain kinds of subjects, students, or teachers.

“The 4Cs work for every kind of student and teacher in classrooms across the country,” said Donna Harris-Aikens, director of Education Policy and Practice at the National Education Association (NEA). “It’s less a series of requirements and more just authentic learning. For example, a math class could use its English and design skills to help draft a proposal to help senior citizens in their community make their homes more accessible. For this kind of project, you need the 4Cs in STEM, English, and community service.”

Fielding said it’s important that school and district leaders support teachers in working together to develop collaborative projects for their students.

One of the schools his firm works with has a student-run lunch program through which students negotiate with local farmers. They serve the week’s menu selections on carts around the school so students can taste-test their creations. Students in the program generate quarterly reports on profit and loss, and send those reports off to the school board.

“Students get credit for working in this program, which essentially teaches them collaboration skills, analytical skills, and even creative skills, thanks to cooking,” he said.

However, panelists said that there are still barriers for teachers who want to pursue the 4Cs, including getting first-world experience on how to actually teach broad concepts like creativity.

“That’s why we introduced the Creative Innovator Network in our district, which allows teachers to collaborate with not only their peers on different projects, but also local businesses to brainstorm ideas on how students can better serve the community,” said Strother. “We also bring students into the teacher professional development sessions to hear their voice and how they enjoy learning, so that teachers can adapt their instruction.”

“The biggest barrier for teachers is time,” said Harris-Aikens. “Finding time to make everything work effectively and collaborate is hard, especially because planning, or collaborating, time needs to be on a consistent and continual basis. Students also need a large amount of time to work on these projects, and to have time flexibility in case they make mistakes, as well. Administrators need to make sure teachers and students can have that time in their day.”

For more on this topic, watch the full webinar.

Minecraft for Moms – What You Need to Know

Minecraft for Moms

 

It seems like everywhere you look these days, a hot technology topic when it comes to kids is MINECRAFT.  Considering all the gaming apps that are out there, it can be hard for parents to navigate the good from the bad and even harder to understand how best to monitor and manage their kids usage of them.

Okay, so here are the main points you want to know:

What is it:

Minecraft is a gaming app, available for all types of mobile phones and tablets as well as gaming systems like the Xbox and playstation and even for your PC. The most common version of the game for younger children to play is the Pocket Edition, which is available for android and iPhone as well as the iPad.  The majority of this post will be specific to this version of Minecraft.

The easiest way to describe the game is virtual legos, but that is definitely an oversimplification. The graphics and even some of the basic functions of the game will at first appear poorly made or terribly outdated, like some kind of strange old school video game.  However, once you watch your kids in action on the game and see all  the ways they use their creativity to construct buildings and interact with their environment, you’re likely to recognize the genius of this game’s simplicity. In many ways, it’s almost a blank canvas without the typical rules and boundaries of a highly designed game. This sense of freedom seems to be a big part of the game’s appeal to kids.

How is it Played: 

There are two modes of the game available: Creative and Survival

Creative: This is where all children should start to get a feel for the game and is probably the better option for younger children, end of story. In this mode, players all become the generic character “Steve”(they can add their own name if they prefer, but everyone looks the same) and they are deposited into a minecraft world that basically looks like a typical landscape, with grass, hills, trees,sky,  and some lakes or ponds. There is also the occasional farm animal such as a sheep.  Players are able to select from a large variety of materials to build any structure they can dream up.  They can make houses of stone or glass that can be on the ground or in the air with gardens and trap doors. Again, it sounds pretty straightforward, but I was amazed when I saw how elaborate and unique my kids projects were.

Survival: Alright, so for those who have at least a little familiarity with Minecraft, you’re probably wondering about the zombies and the creepers you’ve heard about.  Those appear in this version of the game.  Again, due to the rudimentary graphics, these are not super scary and there is no real blood or gore.  Survivor mode is just like it sounds. In this version of the game you don’t have unlimited access to all the building materials and other resources that are available like you do in the creative version. You actually have to go out and find them. You start the game during “daytime” and have a limited amount of time to find what you need to stay alive and build some kind of dwelling to keep you safe. Once night falls, all the more sinister elements of the game come out and you have to fight to survive. Again, I know this sounds a little bit scary, but we’ve allowed our five year old to play this version of the game and she loves it. No nightmares, no fear, nothing! Why, because it’s too much fun, and its challenging. Players in survivor mode have to be clever and strategize to survive. Also, while you can “die” you basically are just recycled right back into the game again.

In either mode, there is no “winning” and no end goal. It is open ended and just an endless invitation to think bigger and better and create more.

Multi-Player:

The aspect of the game that most kids really enjoy is the fact that they can “connect” with others and play together.   Now, by “connect” I don’t mean to the internet where any crazy can hop in their Minecraft world with them.  The primary way to “connect” is on a shared network, most commonly your home network. If you have your network set up properly, it will be password protected, so no outsiders can access it (if you don’t ….that post is coming). For older and more advanced players, there are ways to connect to other outside Minecraft servers, but this is not something built into the game.  Unlike many other gaming apps, Minecraft does not automatically connect to the internet or require the internet to run.

We encourage parents to take advantage of the multi-player part of the game and actually play WITH their children so they understand how the basics of the game work. This will also enable you to try out the “survivor” mode and decide if or when your child might be ready for this next step. My husband and I have both played with our kids. My husband is Minecraft rockstar and he enjoys it so much I often have more trouble getting him off the game than the kids.  I confess, I’ve struggled with it a bit, but even I’ve managed to pull together a fairly impressive glass house in the sky decorated with artwork and boasting it’s very own sunflower garden. I even have had various pet sheep. My kids LOVE when I play with them, even if its only for ten minutes and they also really enjoy playing together. (yes, my kids enjoy playing together, this is a shocking side effect of this game).

Minecraft Pros:

Minecraft is not just some mindless activity, nor is it like any other gaming app. Whether in creative or survivor mode, players are required to think and create and strategize. There is a need for spatial understanding (geometry) and design. Plus, as mentioned, many children find the fun of the game enhanced by playing with multiple people. Doing this requires collaboration and communication.

Minecraft can also be expanded with “secret” elements or the introduction of “mods” (modifications) that enable new features.  Kids can find much of this on YouTube, but again you want to make sure you have the parental controls enabled (you can watch a video about it HERE)  The other major source of this type of Minecraft info is the Official Minecraft Wiki.  Researching and discovering the game enhancements, presents another new and engaging level of the game for kids and presents another opportunity for teamwork as they will often share and teach each other what they’ve learned.

Minecraft has been so successful in teaching kids some fundamental learning concepts that it is even being used in schools as  an educational tool. It has also spawned a number of options that introduce kids to the basics of computer programming. These include online courses  as well as something called “LearntoMod”, which will be introduced in October 2014.  These are add-ons to the game, which allow players to use code to design their own customization for the game (new tools, animals, or even creepers).  For more info Click HERE.

If you want to know even more about the benefits of Minecraft, check out this great article, “Hey, Parents. What Minecraft is Doing to Your Kids is Kind of Surprising.”

Minecraft Cons:

Minecraft is a teensy weensy bit additctive, especially since there is no “official” end.  However, as long as you set time limits and clearly communicate those limits to your children, then you shouldn’t have problems when it comes time to leave “Steve” behind until next time. However, like most activities that kids get absorbed it, a smooth transition is best facilitated with a five minute warning before it’s time to wrap things up.

If you truly find that it becomes a struggle to get your kids off the game (or any technology for that matter), it may be time for a technology break. You can simply tell them, “It seems that you are having a hard time using technology in a healthy way right now. Technology is fun, but it can’t be something we do all the time. Let’s take a break and in a week (or whatever time frame you set), we can try again.”

How Much Does it Cost:

Pocket Edition for Android and iOS $6.99
(This is the only cost, there are NO in-app purchases)

Xbox 360 $19.99

Playstation $19.99

You can even play it on your desktop PC – $26.95

You can find links to purchase any of these versions HERE.

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.

Obama, free community college may not work

Graduates from a community college.

In his SOTU, President Obama proposed making community college tuition free for two years

Michael Horn: We need a better strategy for skills training before going down the track of subsidizing students

“Michael B. Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation and executive director of its education program. He is author of “Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools” and “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns.” The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.”

(CNN)In his State of the Union address, President Obama proposed making community college tuition free for two years to boost college graduation rates and lift more people into the middle class.

Unfortunately, his plan doesn’t make the grade. The proposal would not only pile up more debt by further subsidizing runaway college costs, it would also perilously undercut the emergence of more innovative educational programs designed to help students succeed in the workforce.

Offering only a lukewarm pathway to the job market, community colleges are incapable of fulfilling the President’s lofty ambitions. Although there are some high-performing community colleges and stellar stories of success for certain students, the overall picture of success at two-year community colleges is dismal.

According to the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University, only 22% of students graduate within three years, and 28% graduate within four. More telling, 80% of students say they want a bachelor’s degree or higher, and yet only 20% of these students transfer to a four-year institution within five years.

Even for those who earn a community college degree, it often isn’t as useful as other options. Thanks to credential inflation, pursuing a professional certification — which more clearly indicates a person’s skills than a degree — often pays off better than an associate’s degree, according to Census Bureau data.

The conversation around making community college free also masks a larger problem, which is that community colleges are already heavily subsidized and far less affordable than commonly believed.

At $3,300, community college tuition is well under the $5,730 currently available in Pell Grant aid to low-income students. But the expenditure per student at a community college — the true cost of the education — is far higher, about four times more at $13,000 per student. That means that more than 60% of the cost of community college isn’t paid for through tuition, but through various forms of government aid at the federal, state and local levels.

As a result, even if the President’s plan passed, it wouldn’t help the large number of already-overcrowded community colleges that have waiting lists numbering in the thousands. Tuition is only a small part of the funding needed to educate additional students.

What’s more, because of the limited productivity gains possible in the community college model, those costs will continue to rise, which means that tuition will, too. The proposal’s $60 billion price over 10 years is likely to grow with only a questionable return on the investment.

Opinion: Two years of free community college makes sense

The larger question the proposal misses is not how to allow students to afford college, but how to make college affordable. There’s a huge distinction. The focus should be to make postsecondary education less costly and of better quality, such that the question of how to afford it becomes manageable. The President’s proposal merely charges education, in the form of debt for future generations of taxpayers, rather than changes it.

Instead we need to encourage students to seek innovative offerings that are lower cost and improve the quality and accessibility of higher education.

Such options are emerging. Patten University offers a new online, competency-based program that charges undergraduate tuition of $350 per month, or $1,316 per term. Tuition includes access to as many courses as one can complete and all the ebooks and course materials needed, and Patten receives no government funding. Another online, competency-based program, Southern New Hampshire’s College for America, charges annual tuition of $2,500.

Rather than supporting innovative options like Patten and Southern New Hampshire, the President’s plan would nudge students toward a community college sector that is incapable of repositioning its model around student success and fuel rising college costs.

5 ways community colleges are fixing higher education

If enacted, the President’s proposal would be unlikely to achieve its ultimate aims and would exacerbate a larger problem lurking behind college financing. Although the plan amounts to little more than political posturing given the current congressional makeup, it will negatively influence the political conversation around higher education in the years ahead.

By supporting free community college, President Obama is merely kicking the can down the road for future generations to confront. We need a better strategy for skills training overall before we go further down the track of subsidizing students to attend community college only to emerge with little to show for it.

 

Taking Control of Technology Before Technology Takes Over Your Family

Taking Control of Technology Before Technology Takes Over Your Family

  

Now that we’ve posted our first few articles in our Technology 101 for Parents Series, I’ve been noticing many of the comments from parents frustrated by the constant struggle technology seems to present in their families.   Here are some of the most common things I’ve heard parents say over the last few weeks:

 “I can’t get my kids to stop playing on their DS/Wii/Playstation/iPad/Phone”

“Anytime I tell them to turn it off, it turns into a major battle”

“It feels like technology is taking over our lives”  

While I absolutely sympathize and I understand how managing technology and our kids can feel overwhelming for parents, we really do have the ability to take control of technology before technology takes over our families.

Step 1
Well, I think there is an obvious starting place for this conversation – it’s us parents.  Before we can even begin to help our children to make wise choices when it comes to technology use, we have to ask ourselves exactly what behaviors are we modeling? If we aren’t exercising discipline and we’re constantly on our devices, we can’t expect anything different from our children.

“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Step 2

We need some basic rules and boundaries that we’ve actually discussed with our kids and that we are sure they understand.  So, here are some “house tech rules” that should help tame the technology monster that has taken over your household. (there’s a super cute printable at the end of the post. Hang it over your family computer or on the fridge to serve as reminder for your kids and for you)

1. Technology is a Privilege Not a Right

As parents we ARE obligated to provide some basics to our children. These are their rights as our children and include things like food, shelter, clothes, a K-12 education and our love.  Nowhere in the parent agreement does it state we MUST provide them with a TV, an  iPhone, an iPad, a Computer, two different gaming systems with games for each and endless hours utilizing these various technologies. Those are NOT rights.

I have told my children for several years now, “your expectation for technology time should be zero, anything you get above that should be considered a privilege.” Then I make a cute little “zero” with my hands together kind of like the little hand hearts young people like to make these days. This helps them to understand that having technology available and being given the opportunity to use it is not an automatic, they have to hold up their end of being part of our family or else technology is the first thing to go. It also helps them to be appreciative of technology time when they have it.

2. All Technology Must Be Parent Approved

Whether it’s watching a certain television show, downloading a new app, using our family computer (which sits in our open living room by the way so we can always monitor them on it) or purchasing a new video game, they MUST ask our permission.  If they do not, and this includes at other people’s houses, and we find out then it results in a TOTAL loss of all technology. Each family has to determine for themselves the length of the time-out from tech based on the offense, but this is a zero tolerance policy and we as parents should NEVER make an exception.

If you are unsure about whether or not something is appropriate for your child – A simple visit to Common Sense Media should provide you with all the info you need.

3. We Value People More Than Technology

How often has your child completely ignored a request you’ve made b/c they are zombified by the TV or else maybe you’ve heard your children using unkind words when they are playing a video game with a friend or sibling.  Our children need to be taught to value their relationships and that those relationships should always be put first.

If my child fails to respond to me, because they are too absorbed in technology,  then the technology gets turned off for the rest of the day and sometimes the rest of the week.

When it comes to how we treat people when technology is involved, whether it’s smack talk gone too far when playing video games or for older kids it could be using texting or social media to be cruel to another child, I once again will remove the technology at that moment.  However, we will talk about why they made the choices they did and how to be better next time. If the behavior becomes repetitive, then we “take a break” for a determined amount of time until they can prove they are deserving of another opportunity.

4. Devices Don’t Come to the Dinner Table

Period. End of Story. The End. This is the best chance we have as parents to connect with our children and find out what is going on in their lives. If everyone is too busy with tech, then we lose out on this important family time.

5. There is No Tech Behind Closed Doors

There is plenty of evidence to support  that when children have TV’s, computers and other technology in their bedrooms it is not a great idea. However, this is really a family by family choice.  Whatever you choose though, there is NEVER a reason that a child (toddler to teen) needs to have technology of any kind behind a closed door. It simply invites trouble and while most of us want to trust our kids, why provide temptation that isn’t absolutely necessary.

6. Chores and Homework Come Before TV and Video Games

This goes back to technology being a privilege and not a right.  Our kids need to be able to put their responsibilities to their family first and also to adopt the work before play principle. This is also a step in teaching our children about priorities and how to put first things first.

7. Turn it Off is NOT a Negotiation

I do not demand my children turn off the TV or quit a game they are playing on our iPad without some warning, this is only fair. I will give at least a five minute notice before I am expecting them to turn it off.  However, after the grace period is up, I’ve made it clear that they should not beg for more time, whine and complain, or even worse, have some sort of tantrum.   In the event this occurs, no more technology privileges for a set period of time.  When they get tech time back, I remind them why they lost it and that they will have the same consequence doubled if it happens again.

8. We Break It We Help Pay to Replace It

Let’s face it, most technology is expensive. It is okay to talk with our kids about the investment  made in a purchase and the importance of caring for our possessions properly.  For our littles, we need to show them the right and wrong way to handle these different devices and for all our kids there should be an established safe place to put things when they are done using them.  If our kids are careless, then they absolutely need to, at a minimum, share the burden of paying for a replacement. For older kids this money can come out of an allowance or savings or they can do extra chores to earn the money to help replace the broken item.  Younger children may not be able to monetarily help, but it may mean an item just isn’t replaced or else if it is, they no longer can use it.

9. We Use Technology Appropriately or We Lose It

Using tech in a way that could potentially harm any human being, including oneself is inappropriate. This means you’re going to need to have age appropriate conversations with your child about the dangers that exist online. There needs to be a clear understanding about the language & photos that are acceptable vs. unacceptable to be placed online. Do not assume your child “knows better”, be blunt & state the obvious. We also need to coach them on appropriate social etiquette and how to be respectful online.  Children, and many adults,  feel a false sense of anonymity when they are interacting with others online and may act in ways or say things that they never would in other situations.

We can have good kids, but that doesn’t mean they will ALWAYS make good decisions.   Children do not have fully developed decision making capabilities or the ability to think through their decisions to the long-term consequences even in their teens.  That is why they are ours until they are at least 18.  If they do not demonstrate the maturity necessary to handle different aspects of technology appropriately, then they don’t deserve to have the technology. Both for their safety and the safety of others. Don’t be afraid to be the bad guy, you know your child better than anyone and it is your job to be their parent, not their friends.

“If we do not teach our children, society will.
And they-and we-will live with the results.”

– Stephen Covey

Below you will find a link for this Family Technology Rules Printable.  We will also be publishing another post in the Technology 101 for Parents Series soon geared towards older children and establishing a family technology contract. You won’t want to miss it, so be sure to sign up for our weekly email newsletter: http://eepurl.com/WXOv5

Taking Control of Technology Before Technology Takes Over Your Family

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

(more…)

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.