Wordless Videos Can Teach Problem-Solving

Ormie the Pig

The YouTube site where Ormie the Pig is posted offers this description of the video: Ormie is a Pig, in every sense of the word. Pig see cookie. Pig want cookie. But they are out of reach…or are they? … Ormie has garnered 8 Festival Awards including Best Short Film (Savannah FF 2010, Palm Springs Int’l Shorts Fest 2010, Sprockets 2010, Seattle Int’l FF 2010) and the Audience Award (New York Int’l Children’s FF 2011). To see other videos in the collection, visit SpeechisBeautiful.com.

The old saying — a picture is worth a thousand words — is beautifully demonstrated by a collection of non-verbal videos at  SpeechisBeautiful.com. The miracle of the web allows an expert to collect a group of relevant materials — in this case delightful, but wordless professionally produced film shorts —  and share them with teachers and parents.

Children can watch the videos, observe how problems are solved, and then figure out how to talk about what they’ve seen. While the film shorts have no speech, they do have delightful sound effects, providing excellent learning opportunities for children who need conversational encouragement. Teachers who work with children of all ages will recall students of theirs who would benefit from this strategy.

Sarah, the host of the website is a bilingual speech pathologist, and she has curated a collection that will please and encourage the most timid speaker or slightly nervous bilingual child.

The image on the right describes Ormie the Pig, one video in Sarah’s collection.

Also, the Speech is Beautiful site is full of other ideas, features a blog, and also offers some resources for sale.

National Library of Medicine Learning Resources for Young Learners

Amazing resources for young learners at The National Library of Medicine!

Amazing resources for young K-12 learners at The National Library of Medicine!

Check out The National Library of Medicine (NLM) resources for K-12 education, including a number of games. The library is a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and also  has an excellent weekly podcast on a wide range of topics.

Grammar Girl Podcasts – Listen and Learn!

Just about every day I have a grammar question, despite that in junior high school I was an ace at diagramming sentences. Most commonly I need to figure out how to punctuate something I have written. I search for an answer, and I want to remember the information — if possible — so that I can use it the next time the same question arises. Yes, I could consult The Elements of StyleOn Writing WellThe Chicago Manual of Style, or countless other good grammar books.

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Visit Grammar Girl!

These days, however, when I am puzzling over a comma or a particular word, I almost always go online to find a podcast at Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty TipsI listen to the explanation, usually accompanied by music and amusing examples, and even days later I still remember the rule or the spelling or usage — even if the topic has not reappeared in my writing.

If you have not checked out the Grammar Girl podcasts, take some time to do so. They are great fun — two words that I never associated with sentence diagrams.

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Learn Google Flu Trends and CDC – Winter 2013

Flu is here and for the next couple of months so many of us will need to take precautions to prevent, if possible, getting sick. Your family will probably have a few conversations about the flu, so here are some data-rich public health websites to use as a part of the conversation with 21st Century learners.

Some influenza seasons are worse than others, and this year appears to be more severe than the last few flu seasons. But no matter what year it is, it’s doubly important to help children and everyone else in your family avoid influenza exposure as much as possible — and no one should get very far into the fall months without receiving a vaccination at a physician’s office, pharmacy, or local clinic.

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Google Flu Trends Data Map

Today I went to Google Flu Trends to learn where in the United States influenza is hitting the hardest, and right now this dynamic mapping site indicates that the flu is just about everywhere. Google collects its data by keeping track of internet searches for symptoms such as fever, headache, or sore muscles. The collected search statistics turn out to be good predictors of what parts of the country are experiencing influenza-like illnesses.

Right now, January 18, 2013, the Google flu map shows that the flu is widespread — almost every state in the U.S. is the same bright read color, indicating that lots of people are sick with the flu and searching to learn more. A user can click in each state to look at the influenza-related searches from there. Click on the map to visit Google Flu Trends to see what it looks like.

CDC influenza

CDC Data Map

The data depicted by Google Flu Trends often corresponds to, but is not a substitute for, the hard data that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) receives when epidemiologists from around the country collect and submit  data about actual diagnosed influenza cases in their states. In tracing the course of an epidemic, epidemiologists and health officials need to collect the specifics about place and time of an illness as well as general characteristics of the people who are sick (age, gender, ethnicity, seriousness of illness, pre-existing health conditions, etc.).

At this time, Google Flu Trends, while predictive of case counts, does not provide public health officials enough detailed information. Look at the CDC Influenza Summary Update.

Resources on Influenza Continue reading

Now This Is What You Want Connected Kids to Do!

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Pixabay Public Domain Images

Sometimes when I sit quietly in a computer lab at school and observe my students, I overhear the most wonderful conversations about learning. Today, as I sat in a corner working quietly, several fifth grade students came in and sat down to work on essays. Focused on work, they took little note of me.

A delightful conversation ensued when one student asked the other student for help with the name of a country. As soon as I realized that an interesting 21st Century learning conversation was happening, I started typing their dialogue rather than my parent letter.

The two children went online together, searched, made all sorts of comments and decisions about what they saw, discovered a few things that they were not looking for, and finally located the information that they needed. But their searching led to additional questions.

The entire conversation lasted less than two minutes, but they learned a great deal.

Student #1: I am trying to write about the country that broke off from India when India became independent. Do you know its name?

Student #2: I’m not sure. I know it’s right next door.

Student #1: Hummm. Maybe it’s Pakistan?  But I’m not sure.

Student #2: Maybe. Let’s go online and find a world map.

Student #1: OK. Are you going to Google it?

Student #2: Yes and look. If we go into Images there are lots of maps.

At this point the two students are both looking at dozens of world maps on Google Images and pointing at some of them. They talk about which map to look at. They choose one, but when the enlarge it, it doesn’t work.                  Continue reading

Help Students Evaluate Digital Sources-Howard Rheingold Video

Rheingold’s vision of a person’s personal trust network copied from the video.

Teaching children to evaluate resources and determine credibility is the biggest challenge of our 21st Century world. Until now authoritative textbooks have dominated the world of education, but not anymore.

In the video below, Howard Rheingold, the digital thinker, professor (Stanford and UC Berkeley), and personal learning network advocate, describes how parents and educators should help students develop the ability to ask questions when they discover digital information, thereby evaluating the quality or lack of it. Rheingold calls this “crap detection,” a term originally coined by Ernest Hemmingway.

We need to teach kids, Rheingold points out, “how to search and how to find” and how to be sure that what is found is of good quality. The long-range goal is for each individual to develop what Rheingold calls a “personal trust network.”

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International Children’s Digital Library: Changing the World One Book at a Time

What if our children had instant access to a library with thousands of books from countries all over the world — a place that invited them to drop by, read, and learn about one another (and without driving)? Imagine what they could find out about the world’s cultures, celebrations, languages, differences, and also about what they have in common.

Click here to visit the library.

That just about describes the mission of the International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL), an online destination hosted at the University of Maryland. The massive website, with digitized books in 61 languages is the largest online collection of multicultural children’s literature, and everything on the site promotes reading and the love of diversity.

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