All About QR Codes

QR Code Parents

This QR code leads to a digital parenting wiki site that my colleagues and I created.

QR Codes. You’ve probably seen them around — on everything from cereal boxes to magazines to advertising banners on the bus or in the subway.

QR is short for quick resource code (QR code), the scannable geometric-looking design that connects a person via smartphone to digital information such as an e-mail site, a video, a website, or even a telephone number. QR codes are similar to bar codes, but the QR image contains far more encoded information — thousands of times more, in fact. Learn more about QR codes at the Common Craft video tutorial site.

A QR code is essentially a shortcut that leads to digitized information. It might be, for instance, at the end of a book chapter, linking the reader to more content on a topic, or on a billboard. It could link conference attendees to a workshop handout or schedule.      Continue reading

5 Digital Citizenship Moments: Adult Conversational Digressions for Kids

You have just shared several websites and take a moment to comment to children about digital footprints. Or perhaps you sent an e-mail that you wish you had not sent and you mention that it’s not possible to get something back once it’s sent out electronically. Maybe you open a website of poor quality and point out one or two things that could be improved.

These are moments, each probably less than a minute of conversational digression, that reinforce the digital citizenship habits of children. These comments can be incorporated into any discussion or lesson.

Each time adults comment on digital citizenship issues in the context of daily lessons and classroom life, we model a kind of digital intelligence that students can emulate and embrace, whether they are working or playing.

When educators and parents make time for digital digressions, moments of digital citizenship addressing crucial issues, they informally incorporate  behavioral values that are a part of 21st Century connected learning. More importantly, these moments allow children to observe that just about every digital activity incorporates time-tested values such as careful evaluation, respect, collaboration, and inclusiveness.

Five Digital Citizenship Moments to Incorporate into Any Conversation

1. Pause for a moment whenever you use a web site, and explain one or two things that you like about it (or don’t like). Or explain just how you found the website.

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Claudio Sanchez Presentation at NAIS 2013 Conference

Check out a larger version of this graphic recording.

Check out a larger version of this graphic.

Journalist Claudio Sanchez, a National Public Radio education reporter as well as a former middle school teacher, offered a presentation, The Three P’s of Education Reform: Politics, Policy, Pedagogy, at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) 2013 conference. If you are like me, you turn up the radio every time Sanchez begins a report or a commentary, and I was eager to hear what he had to say about the world of educational reform.

In his presentation he asked whether education in itself — even a really good opportunity – can compensate for the heavy burdens  of poverty such as poverty, access to poor health care (or no access), and violence. He wondered how much a school can really do for a child, and by extension a family, mired in the cycle of poverty, though he looked at the audience and recognized that many schools are working hard to hasten change.

Best Quote

It’s a myth to believe that these problems can be solved by education without working on the broader context. Continue reading

New Pew Report on Teens and Technology 2013

Growing internet use by teens and other age groups, too.

Growing internet use by teens and other age groups, too.

If you are an educator who teaches teenagers or a parent of adolescents, check out this newest research release — Teens and Technology, 2013 —  from the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The survey results come from interviews with 802 adolescents between the age of 12 – 17 and separate interviews with their parents, conducted over the phone in English and Spanish.

If you have any doubts about how fast digital life is changing for young people, this should dispel many of them.

  • 78% of teens now have a cell phone, and almost half (47%) of them own smartphones. That translates into 37% of all teens who have smartphones, up from just 23% in 2011.
  • 23% of teens have a tablet computer, a level comparable to the general adult population.
  • 95% of teens use the internet.
  • 93% of teens have a computer or have access to one at home. Seven in ten (71%) teens with home computer access say the laptop or desktop they use most often is one they share with other family members.
  • 25% say they mostly use their phone online.

Most Interesting Quote

One in four teens are “cell-mostly” internet users, who say they mostly go online using their phone and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer.

Schools must find ways to incorporate phones into the 21 Century learning paradigm.

Why Do I Blog? Maybe Because My Dad Has Kept a Journal for 65 Years

My dad shows my husband how to write journal entries on his iPad.

My dad shows my husband how to write journal entries on an iPad.

Recently I led a workshop at my school about blogging. One question I am always asked when I talk about the wonders of blogging, my blogs, and the huge body of writing I am creating is, “What got me started?”

In October 2009 I began work on AsOurParentsAge.net, with lots of encouragement from my husband. His mother, Betty, was near the end of her life. Essentially, helping to care for her filled up our non-work times and had for over two years. When we were not at our jobs, we were assisting Mother in some way. I started writing, initially, about topics that we wished we, as adult children, had known more about before we became caregivers to an elderly parent.

About a year later I began writing for MediaTechParenting.net, a blog that reflects my professional interests and work.

One blog relates to my vocation, the other to an avocation. Bottom line?  Nearly 1000 posts later — a few of them posted on more obscure blogs — I still seem to have lots to say as I use this 21st Century learning and communication tool.

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Workshop Planning As Extreme Professional Development: My NAIS Conference #3

OurStoriesI’ve just returned from the 2013 National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) annual conference, where I presented a workshop with three colleagues, Renee Hawkins, Vinnie Vrotny, and Larry Kahn. In our Thursday afternoon session we shared our ideas about coaching the parents of 21st Century learners to help them understand more about the digital lives of their children.

As I reflect on our wonderfully collaborative NAIS presentation project — coming up with an idea and developing it over time — I now understand that the workshop planning process led me and my colleagues on a substantial journey featuring what I think of as extremely connected professional development.

Thoughts on Digital Parenting

An example of digital parenting book resources

This workshop’s journey began a year ago at EdCampSeattle, where I shared an idea about the importance of educating 21st Century parents. At my school I work hard at educating parents about their digital kids, so I wanted to learn lots more about what my colleagues do at other schools.

Actually I initially shared my idea with independent school colleague, Liz Davis, a dedicated EdCamp advocate, and she told me that I just had to attend EdCampSeattle. (Note: Liz is also one of the main people responsible for getting me to start blogging, but that’s another story.)

If you’ve attended EdCamp, you know that participants suggest lots of great ideas, but not every one becomes part of the program. At the beginning of every EdCamp people walk around the room suggesting and choosing the topics they are most interested in — called the “law of two feet” in “EdCampSpeak.” They go on to experience, a day-long collegial event that they have planned, essentially carrying out their own program — in itself extreme professional development. Expanding this idea, my workshop colleague, Larry Kahn, will shortly experiment with inviting parents to attend an EdCamp along with teachers.

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Getting Started With Electronic Portfolios: My NAIS Conference #2

You do not always expect the first workshop, on the first day of a conference to be a slam-dunk, but my 8:00 A.M. Thursday morning session was awesome.

Check out the online presenters' resources.

Check out the online presenters’ resources.

Every bit of information that I collected at the Garrison Forest School workshop on electronic portfolios, presented at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) annual conference in Philadelphia, will help me start an e-portfolio project at my school. As the four presenters shared their many resources and described their electronic portfolio research, my mind zoomed ahead to my return to school — all this before the end of the first hour of the conference.

I’ve been thinking about helping teachers and students create e-portfolios for some time, but with so many factors to consider and so much to figure out, I’m always a bit stumped when I think about the extensive collaboration that needs to take place. The benefits for teachers, students, and parents are clear, but the process takes an enormous amount of time to plan and carry out, and time is always at a premium. Yet we all know that twenty-first Century learners need to be able to think about, examine, evaluate, and extend their work if they are to be, well — better 21st Century learners. E-portfolios support this learning process.

Interestingly, about two weeks before this conference, two teaching teams that I support indicated – out of the blue — their interest in developing some sort of electronic portfolio project, so I am fortunate to have a small group of educators who want to get started. This workshop has essentially handed me the knowledge as well as a map to lead me.

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