The News User Manual — A Great New MediaLit Teaching Tool

Visit the The News User Manual website.

Visit the The News User Manual website.

If you have not discovered The News User Manual as a media and news literacy  resource for 21st Century digital kids and  yes, even for their parents, do check out the website.

Started by two seasoned broadcast  journalists, Jim Kane and Rich Nagle, The News User Manual features ongoing  podcast conversations (sometimes we call them casts) that encourage individuals to ask questions, think about, evaluate, gain understanding of, and develop personal news curating skills. The News User Manual’s mission encourages listeners to ask lots of questions about the news. In one cast they comment:

The thing to remember is to neither believe nor disbelieve what you’re reading, hearing or watching online. Rather, ask yourself how, when, why and where it was reaching you.

How, when, why, and where — media literacy at it’s best!

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10 Digital Wellness Thoughts to Consider

Will new devices, robots and other items that connect to the Internet with your wifi be arriving in your home during this 2016 holiday season? If so, check out this post about maintaining digital wellness in your family.

Media! Tech! Parenting!

Digital WellnessThese days everyone talks about personal wellness — those steps that people need to take to remain physically and mentally healthy and strong. But what about digital wellness? Poor digital health affects not only our connected lives, but also our physical and mental well-being.

Digital wellness is about fine-tuning the 21st Century skills that we use to work and play in a connected world, and it also involves understanding number of common myths about the nature of online life. Helping family members take steps to develop digital wellness habits can challenge parents, mainly because many children, pre-adolescents, and teens appear to be far more advanced online consumers than their parents. Underneath the veneer of digital native expertise, however, are a fair number of information gaps.             

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Digital Communication Disrupts the Rules of Civility, Privacy, & Integrity

Click to read the article.

Click to read the Washington Post article.

After spending years teaching digital citizenship and civility in the K-12 world, I’ve now come to the conclusion that we parents and teachers should, in the midst of teaching children, stress that there is never privacy online. Yes, I know that we already teach this — or try to — in most schools and homes, but election 2016, accompanied by the theft and sharing of emails and other connected world materials, is scary. It has proven that everyone can be hurt by what they say online — even when what is said is not intended to generate hurtfulness.

To learn much more about the lack of privacy in private communication read Deborah Tannen’s October 28, 2016 Washington Post column, Why What You Say In Private Looks Bad in Public, Even if It Isn’t. Tannen is a professor at Georgetown University and the author of the best seller, You Just Don’t Understand.

Our confidential comments may differ from what we say in public. When our candid thoughts become widely available — yes, through hacking, but with kids it’s through intentional sharing, gossip, or the unintentional  mistakes that kids make — words can often be interpreted negatively. Moreover, at least for the time being, we live in a world where stealing a public figure’s private communications and making them public appears to be OK.

Good Quotes from Deborah Tannen’s Article  (Read the entire article for much more)           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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Innovation & Coding — Fine Tuning the Mission

How can we ensure that young people, who enthusiastically embrace innovation, creating, and coding, also associate their work with the fundamental concepts of empathy, humility, and conscience?

As we adults thrill to help children learn, imagine, ideate, explore, and make things, we also need to define a compelling mission for each of our innovation and maker spaces — a mission that emphasizes the significant values that young people should apply to the problems they identify and try to solve. An innovation mission provides a foundation for children, illuminating important issues and providing benchmarks that help them to consider and choose problems. It should also help young learners differentiate between the significant problems that need to be solved from those that are insignificant.

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Keywords Matter: Children Must Know How to Use Them

51ST8V7G1EL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Maya Bery, a technology/media colleague, who also happens to be a former student, shared this delightful description about two 21st Century children searching for answers.

Two third graders came in this morning looking for the dog books because they’d seen a dog and could not remember what it was called. It was driving them CRAZY!

They looked through the dog encyclopedias to no avail. Searching online for short, fluffy dogs yielded nothing. Then they told me that the dog had short legs. We added that to our Google search and found the answer in two seconds flat. It was a corgi.

Keywords matter!

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Screenagers: An Excellent New Documentary & Digital Parenting Resource

Watch the official trailer below.

Watch the official trailer below.

I just finished reading a New York Times Well Blog article about Screenagers, a new documentary that addresses the the challenge that too much screen time presents for families. The March 15, 2016 piece by Jennifer Jolly interviews Dr. Dulaney Ruston (read about some of her past projects), the director of the documentary, Screenagers. Dr. Ruston is also in the film.

This movie shares evidence-based scientific research on screen time — a reason the movie will become an important resource for educators and parents as they struggle with the issue of how to manage 21st Century young people and screen time. The experts in the film offer advice about how to support and guide young people as they grow up in a densely digital age. Thank goodness the film focuses on facts and does not inspire fear.

The issue of parents designing and using contracts or agreements and how much they help parents and kids focus on important screen times issues, comes up in the article and in the documentary. You can check out a comprehensive list of sites that offer these types of contracts and agreements on MediaTechParenting.net. You can also read this blog’s digital parenting checklist.

View the Screenagers Official Trailer                                Continue reading