9 Digital Parenting Back-to-School Tips – 2016 (With Printable PDF)

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Click to download a PDF document.

What can parents and teachers do to ensure that digital kids, with their hand-held devices, connected school activities, homework, and other online activities, get off to a good start at the beginning of the school year?

Back-to-school preparation is more than school supplies, lunch boxes and carpool arrangements. It also involves reviewing and articulating connected-life expectations with family members.

To help you consider the issues in your 21st Century child’s digital life, and your own, use the this nine-item back-to-school digital parenting checklist to get started. Continue reading

Farewell Dr. Papert: May Your Technology & Learning Vision Live Forever!

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Professor Seymour Papert passed away recently.

A picture I took onside the MIT Media Lab.

A picture I took inside the MIT Media Lab.

While he had been fragile for some time following an accident, his extraordinary influence on teaching and learning, including how he really created the maker movement more than 25 years ago, will continue for many years to come.

Without his wisdom and vision, many educators in the school technology fields, where I spent most of my career,  would not have been fortunate enough to pursue exciting and deeply meaningful vocations. Every school, every teacher, every educational technology specialist, and every K-12 technology director can trace their professional activities back to Dr. Papert’s deep understanding of the power of learning with computers and digital devices. The Media Lab remembrance page notes that:

Papert’s career traversed a trio of influential movements: child development, artificial intelligence, and educational technologies. Based on his insights into children’s thinking and learning, Papert recognized that computers could be used not just to deliver information and instruction, but also to empower children to experiment, explore, and express themselves.

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Civility Is Now Devalued — So What Will Adults Do About It?

If there is ever a time to emphasize ideas on civility, commenting, fact-checking, and media literacy, it’s during an election. Children, preadolescents, and teens will learn much during the 2016 presidential campaign just from all the watching. (Read my post The Children are Watching and Seeing, Listening and Hearing.)

Our traditional expectations for civility and ethical behavior are cracking apart right before our eyes.

On the basis of what’s happened at recent political conventions and the beginning of the election season, young people will be witnessing name calling, stereotyping, hateful comments, online hate, and in some cases veiled bodily threats. Kids will hear things on TV at home and on the televisions that are broadcasting in lounges, waiting rooms, doctor’s offices, and everywhere else. They will hear radios broadcasting the news at home and in other peoples’ homes. And, of course, there’s social media.

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My Itty-Bitty Bluetooth Speaker — Best Summer 2016 Travel Device

Looking down from the top.

Looking down from the top.

One of the most difficult decisions before leaving home at any time of year is deciding what digital devices to bring along on the trip. My laptop or just the iPad? My iPad and my iPhone? My digital camera or just my iPhone? Then there are all the chargers and the surge protector with extra USB ports that I now bring along.

This summer I discovered one more digital device that I cannot live without when we travel — a tiny JAM bluetooth speaker that has big sound and darn good quality. About the same size as the small plastic drinking glass that I bring along when I am not in hotels and weighing not much more, this speaker connects with my laptop or iPad or iPhone (doesn’t matter which devices I decide to bring or not bring).

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The Children are Watching and Seeing, Listening and and Hearing

This post, uploaded during the fall 2012 presidential campaign, speaks volumes about what children see, hear, and absorb, and it quotes, perhaps my favorite education authors, Ted and Nancy Sizer. While their book was written for teachers, it is just as apt for parents, grandparents, and others who are concerned about children.

Already in the 2016 campaign, kids are hearing, picking-up, and at times using the uncivil , and sometimes uncouth comments made in the media. We adults need to do all we can to ensure that children have a way to unplug. We must also plan to spend a considerable amount of time talking with them about what’s happening and why rudeness, disrespect, and cruelty are not options.

Media! Tech! Parenting!

They watch us all the time. The students, that is. They listen to us sometimes. They learn from all that watching and listening.

                            –Theodore and Nancy Faust Sizer, The Students are Watching, 1999, Beacon Press

The Sizers wrote about classrooms and schools, explaining that students learn from what their teachers do and say and also from the things their teachers do not do or say. The authors illustrated their points in many ways, demonstrating how much our students learn from the things we do not do.

I read the Sizer’s book in the later 1990s with my growing child at home, so it was easy to see how the lessons applied not just to teachers but also to everyday family life. The message — that children learn from what we don’t do and don’t say…

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Why Did It Take So Long to Get More Women in Computer Sciences?

This podcast from National Public Radio’s Planet Money explains how women were early programmers and why their numbers dropped off as the digital age progressed. The podcast was originally broadcast in 2014, but I just discovered it when it was rebroadcast. Also, check out the graph that goes with the program..Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 6.04.52 PM

Women in programming and computer science  are ongoing topics of interest on this blog.

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