Parenting in the Digital Age

Being the first group of people to parent the iPad generation certainly is an adventure.

On the one hand, we are amazed by their capabilities to navigate between applications, create movies, build websites and FaceTime their grandparents. On the other hand, we may feel anxious about buzzwords like ‘screentime’, ‘game-addiction’, ‘distractions’ and ‘cyber bullying.’

Keep in mind that advances in technology have helped families in numerous ways. Here are some of our favourites:

  • Communication – We can communicate quickly and easily with people around the globe via messages, email, FaceTime, FaceBook and instant messaging. In our international school setting, this is a huge benefit.
  • Efficiency and Organisation – GPS has changed the nature of travel. We can find any address easily, even if we haven’t been there before. We can use apps to organise our shopping list, to sell our used goods, and let’s not forget do our banking.
  • Learning – Now we can teach ourselves anything with the powers of YouTube, Pinterest and Google combined! Lost the rules to your board game? No problem! Need to change a tyre? Can do! Learning can be 24-7.
  • Entertainment – It’s only in the last few years that Netflix came into being! Developments in movie and video distribution, the gaming industry and the explosion of apps means there is a little something for everyone when it comes to entertainment.
  • Medical – At the consumer end of the scale, fitness monitoring is now built into many devices, and made it easier to be aware of the need to keep exercising regularly.
We are, however, realistic about the challenges facing parents too. We have put together a resource that has information, articles, and apps around common pressure points for parents. We have tried to provide a balanced perspective around some of these key issues so that you as parents can find an approach or strategy that best fits your parenting style.
We encourage you to keep the lines of communication open with your children. Inspired by the Key Jar, we have put together a list of questions that might help you begin some conversations with your child around some of these issues. Perhaps print them both off and mix them in together?

Common Sense Media has a lot of resources around parent concerns, so that is also a great source of information.

At the end of the day, each family is different, and you need to find the right combination of solutions to challenges that works for you. I hope these resources are a step in the right direction.

(Cross-posted at GreaTechxpectations)

Lingt Language

Our Chinese teacher Wendy Liao has been at it again – she’s found another excellent site for language learning – Lingt Language.

Here’s what the website has to say about the potential uses of Lingt Language:

Create online assignments that make engaging and assessing student spoken performance as natural as giving out a worksheet.

Make oral exams that take a fraction of the time to administer and assess. Perfect for IB and AP preparation.
Offer targeted feedback to individual responses to maximize student improvement.
Incorporate video and images to create media and culture-rich exercises.
Archive all your assignments and student responses to reuse next time and track individual improvement.

In our elementary school context, Wendy has come up with a unique way of marrying Lingt Language with Voicethread to create a multimedia reflection and learning experience.

Wendy wanted the students to learn and remember the Chinese Characters for various countries, and do this in a way that helps to contribute to the learning of others.

The students selected a country, then tried to come up with a story to create a mental picture, or visual association, that will help others remember the Characters in that country name. They recorded their explanation on a Voicethread, which included all the countries they were studying.

[As an aside, Kim Cofino has a great blog post explaining how making connections to visual cues helped her when she was learning Japanese, which is worth checking out]

See example below:

Following that, students were then directed Lingt Language to answer some comprehension-style questions. A specific link is created for each class page, so you can link directly to the task. In order to answer the questions, students needed to view  the Voicethread as a whole, and learn the country names that their classmates had investigated.

Students could either type or record their answers in the Lingt Language site. The other great thing was that Wendy could either type or record her feedback to the students – isn’t that fabulous?

Here is a copy of the  Lingt Classroom page that Wendy created for the Grade 4’s:

Lingt_1Lingt_2Lingt_3

Highlights

  1. It is a user-friendly interface which is easy for the students to understand
  2. No log-in is necessary for students to enter responses
  3. The ability to record voice or type – this is fantastic for students and teachers alike.
  4. Teachers can mark and give feedback online, in both oral or written form.
  5. Responses can be organised either by student, or by question, meaning teachers can analyse results and check for group understanding.
  6. The potential for learning becomes 24/7, not just limited to the hours you are in a classroom.
  7. Great way to assess and support children according to their individual needs.
  8. It is an excellent way of collecting evidence of student-learning, particularly for student-led conferences.

Things to think about

  1. It requires the latest version of flash, so school/home computers may need updating
  2. Feedback is emailed to students, so students will require their own email address, or an address of a parent to receive feedback from Lingt Language.

Lingt Language

Our Chinese teacher Wendy Liao has been at it again – she’s found another excellent site for language learning – Lingt Language.

Here’s what the website has to say about the potential uses of Lingt Language:

Create online assignments that make engaging and assessing student spoken performance as natural as giving out a worksheet.

Make oral exams that take a fraction of the time to administer and assess. Perfect for IB and AP preparation.
Offer targeted feedback to individual responses to maximize student improvement.
Incorporate video and images to create media and culture-rich exercises.
Archive all your assignments and student responses to reuse next time and track individual improvement.

In our elementary school context, Wendy has come up with a unique way of marrying Lingt Language with Voicethread to create a multimedia reflection and learning experience.

Wendy wanted the students to learn and remember the Chinese Characters for various countries, and do this in a way that helps to contribute to the learning of others.

The students selected a country, then tried to come up with a story to create a mental picture, or visual association, that will help others remember the Characters in that country name. They recorded their explanation on a Voicethread, which included all the countries they were studying.

[As an aside, Kim Cofino has a great blog post explaining how making connections to visual cues helped her when she was learning Japanese, which is worth checking out]

See example below:

Following that, students were then directed Lingt Language to answer some comprehension-style questions. A specific link is created for each class page, so you can link directly to the task. In order to answer the questions, students needed to view  the Voicethread as a whole, and learn the country names that their classmates had investigated.

Students could either type or record their answers in the Lingt Language site. The other great thing was that Wendy could either type or record her feedback to the students – isn’t that fabulous?

Here is a copy of the  Lingt Classroom page that Wendy created for the Grade 4’s:

Lingt_1Lingt_2Lingt_3

Highlights

  1. It is a user-friendly interface which is easy for the students to understand
  2. No log-in is necessary for students to enter responses
  3. The ability to record voice or type – this is fantastic for students and teachers alike.
  4. Teachers can mark and give feedback online, in both oral or written form.
  5. Responses can be organised either by student, or by question, meaning teachers can analyse results and check for group understanding.
  6. The potential for learning becomes 24/7, not just limited to the hours you are in a classroom.
  7. Great way to assess and support children according to their individual needs.
  8. It is an excellent way of collecting evidence of student-learning, particularly for student-led conferences.

Things to think about

  1. It requires the latest version of flash, so school/home computers may need updating
  2. Feedback is emailed to students, so students will require their own email address, or an address of a parent to receive feedback from Lingt Language.

Digital Thank Yous

It was my daughter’s 4th birthday a couple of weeks ago, and of course she was spoiled rotten by friends and family.

IMG_6430

Of course in this busy life we all lead, finding time to write thank you letters is a tricky business. Cue technology!

First up we hopped onto Facebook and created video messages of thanks. If you have a webcam it should be remarkably straightforward. Just go to ‘compose message’, click on the video button and record!

The quality isn’t brilliant, but the ease of use definitely makes up for that (image below)

For those not on Facebook, we used the Voice Memos app on the iPhone to record a very simple message of thanks.

Voice memos

Clicking on the red circle starts and stops recording, and then you can email the mp4 file wherever you want.

Check out a sample thank you below!

I promise you, this took hardly any time at all, and I know the people who received their digital thank yous absolutely loved them!