Japanese Internment in the U.S. — Information to Share With Today’s Students

I have known six people whose families were forced to move into United States government Japanese internment camps. It’s been an honor for me and my family to listen to their stories — though not always easy to hear about or imagine the cruelty they experienced. The internment, a reaction to the war with Japan and called an evacuation by the United States government, began in 1942 and essentially imprisoned more than 117,000 people. Two-thirds of them were born as American citizens and over half were children,

February 19th, the day in 1942 that President Roosevelt signed an executive order known as the internment order, is a Day of Remembrance in many states. Educators and parents can use the day to understand more — and help 21st Century children learn more — about the internment of Japanese families during World War II. Today, as we deal with the challenges of increasing diversity in the United States and recognize our immigrant history, it’s more important than ever to understand what happened and why the United States now recognizes the internment policy as a mistake.

As U. S. President Gerald Ford said, “Not only was the evacuation wrong, but Japanese Americans were and are loyal Americans.”      Continue reading

Teaching Civility to Kids? Excellent Resource @ WikiHow

Civil behavior is a fundamental building block of our democracy, and throughout our history both children and adults have strived — and occasionally struggled — to demonstrate it through their behavior. In our 21st Century connected world, civility has become even more difficult for many people to understand and attain because certain aspects of digital life can thwart many individual’s good intentions.

unnamedIf you are seeking useful information about civility to share in your school or community, check out How to Teach Civility to Kids, over at wikiHow. The article is, in essence, a tutorial, explaining what adults should do to encourage young people to grow into civil and kind individuals, and it offer specific ideas for conversations and activities.

Parents and teachers spend an enormous amount of their time and energy focusing with children on why it’s important to become civil individuals and  emphasizing that these principles are the same either online or off. Yet educators and adults need continuing support and guidance as they go about the work of promoting and upholding civility. Their challenges are encouraging kids to learn how to be respectful and how to disagree respectfully and  demonstrating to children the importance of being polite, even when they don’t feel like it. Encouraging children to assist others and be kind anytime ensures that children understand much more about what it means to be civil. The wikiHow article offers information and help. Continue reading

Post-Election Resources that Support Learning, Dialogue, and Understanding

unnamedAs an educator, parent, and grandparent, I’m heartbroken about the increase in hateful and offensive activities that so many children have witnessed, front and center, during the long months of the 2016 presidential campaign. Just how do we talk to kids when they’ve observed and heard so much?

I ask this question because we parents and educators know the actions to take (where to help and support others, places to volunteer, etc.), the values we want to model (kindness, respect, honoring differences, integrity), and the civics concepts that we need to be certain our students understand — but our task will far more difficult in the 2016 post-election world.

Below is a list or election response and media literacy resources that I’ve found especially useful this past week, materials that I selected because they offer ideas that we can use long-term, not just in the days following the election. Please be in touch if you find other resources that might be added to this list.                   Continue reading

6 Digital Life Conversation Starters to Use in School Meetings, Discussions & Presentations

How much should parents know about the settings on children’s digital devices?

How much should parents know about the settings on children’s digital devices?

Now that back-to-school nights are about over, schools will be scheduling parent potlucks, curriculum nights, and educational seminars throughout the academic year. These activities offer lots of opportunity for educational communities to start conversations about the challenges — for parents and kids — of growing up in the connected world.

At all of these events administrators, teachers, and parents should plan to incorporate a few introductory comments that encourage parents think about helping their digital children become stronger learners, more savvy digital citizens, better consumers of content on their digital devices, and overall, more knowledgeable citizens.

Below are a few questions that can be shared at a school events and classroom presentations, questions that encourage parents to talk about managing life with 21st Century digital kids. While there are no right answers to these questions, the conversations provide adults an opportunity to talk about what works — and what does not —  in the context of young people’s school and social lives.

Choose one or at most two inquiries to use at each activity. Continue reading

Teach Children About Anonymity Before They Make Mistakes

childing typingAnonymity presents digital kids with a complicated social obstacle — one they must confront and understand if they are to protect themselves from potential problems. Digital anonymity is not a friendly concept for growing children. I’d argue, in fact, that it’s downright dangerous, but app makers continue to offer the feature. For now these apps are a part of many digital kids’ daily lives, often negatively affecting their digital wellness.

No child with a connected device is immune from possible trouble caused by anonymity, because issues can arise in an instant, often as a part of routine online social interactions. Anonymous opportunities take advantage of kids’ developing brains, encouraging them to make public mistakes in judgment, and enabling young people, sometimes as young as third or fourth grade, to act and communicate with less and less restraint. A mistake made with an app’s anonymity feature can be hurtful or humiliating.

Continue reading

Digital Kids & Parents Talk About Technology Rules

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Digital Citizenship Principle for Kids

A recent study, about parents, children and the technology rules that families adopt will be a terrific resource for schools and parent groups to share. Most parts of the research paper are fairly easy to read as are two articles, one from the University of Washington and the other from the University of Michigan. The research findings, with an extra focus on children’s expectations, are full of discoveries and observations that schools may want to share, almost word for word, with the parents of digital kids.

Alexis Hiniker and Julie A. Kientz at the University of Washington and Sarita Y. Schoenebeck at the University of Michigan conducted the study about digital life rules that parents make and enforce and the expectations that digital kids and their parents have of one another. A National Science Foundation research grant supported the academic work.

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Digital Citizenship Principal for Kids

Interestingly, a few years ago I ask my students, after a year of working together, what messages they would give to their parents about the digital world and their parents’ roles. The answers these young people wrote down were so remarkable that I shared the children’s comments in a September 2013 blog post, and I’ve also included some of the posters that my students designed graphic depictions of the digital rules-of-the-road that parents and teachers expect them to uphold.                     Continue reading

iCivics: Sandra Day O’Connor is a Video Game Entrepreneur?

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Click to visit iCivics!

When she retired as a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor could have headed to the golf course or just relaxed. But she did not. Instead she started an educational organization, iCivics, and she has been instrumental in the release and promotion of that group’s free video games — 19 of them!

iCivics is a non-profit founded by Justice O’Connor, and its goal is to “empower teachers and prepare the next generation of 21st Century students to become knowledgeable and engaged citizens.” Read the iCivics story.        

The organization has also created video games along with lesson plans and resource materials that aim to fill in the gaps in students’ civics education. Unfortunately the subject has often fallen by the wayside in many schools, so the focus of the games is to help kids learn about the different branches of government and about their responsibilities as citizens. The games encourage figuring out and solving problems rather than simply memorizing information.                     Continue reading