2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator

2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Let Your Students Design Apps!

I am fortunate to work in a BYOD school where all my students have access to wifi and technology.  Almost every student I teach owns a smart phone, and the students who don't own smartphones own tablets or iPods.  For the students who don't have access to these devices in class, I provide access to a class iPad or class Samsung tablet.  Now, just because the students bring these devices to class does NOT mean that they want to use them for academic purposes, a topic about which I posted here.

Wait--you want me to use these TO LEARN SOMETHING????  Are you out of your mind?

I insist on my students using their phones as a research tool. After all, won't they need to do this in college and for their jobs?  In fact, can my students create jobs using their cell phones?  Consider the app:

According to the Pew Research Center, 78 percent of teens have a cell phone, and almost half own smartphones – and those phones are likely filled with apps. Teens don’t have to be limited to the role of consumer in today’s digital marketplace. All they need is a little know-how and they can solve a real-world problem from the palm of their hand by creating their own app!

In this activity, students will design an app idea to tackle a problem related to public art in their community. For inspiration, show your class the accompanying series of videos of students presenting their app ideas, and then walk them through the Mobile Design 101 lesson as they find app-based solutions to community challenges! EXPLORE: http://to.pbs.org/1Ugsp03

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Teaching Forgiveness and Self-Acceptance to Children

I have a 13-year-old and an 8 year-old.  With the younger, my challenges involve listening to elaborate strategies in Pokemon and Minecraft, getting him to put his cereal bowl away, and blocking out the whining.  
Do you have any idea what the heck this is?  Me neither.  Now imagine faking your way through a conversation in which you must weigh its strengths and weaknesses against other weird characters.

With the older, well, let's just say that thirteen is a difficult age.  Middle school is the time when children don't feel like children.  They have opinions; they have hormones.  They express themselves in sarcastic internet memes.  It's all a way of finding an identity.  Unfortunately, so much of that search is unpleasant for those of us who share the experience.

This is my mantra when my daughter scolds me for not knowing a thing about "Supernatural" yet daring to talk about "Dr. Who" at the dinner table.

Adolescents are often pulled in opposite directions by the desire to alternately conform and be an individual. As they struggle to find out “who” they are as a person, some may become uncommunicative, uncooperative or rebellious at home. At school, others will become willful and opinionated, or confused and hesitant to speak up. 

I try to be a good mother; I try to listen more than I talk.  I remember what it felt like to be a teenager: My dominant emotions were rage, black depression, and unbridled euphoria.  There was no in-between.  When I was a teenager, I believed that there was no reason to share myself (my true feelings) with any adult; I believed I was "alone" and "nobody understood me."  

"Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?"

I can't really pinpoint a moment where my mindset changed.  I think that I still have moments of extreme emotion, and I know that there are many times that I am decidedly unlovable.  As I've grown older, I've taken more responsibility for my own happiness, and I realize that happiness with others is not possible until I am happy with myself.  And so it goes with teens.

As young people begin to be themselves and love who they are, they will find the confidence to not only learn better, but contribute to the world around them in positive ways. In this lesson from WGBH, students watch videos about self-acceptance and forgiveness. After watching, help them explore how these qualities relate to personal growth and leadership potential. WATCH: http://to.pbs.org/1DrjxL7

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