Category Archives: Parenting

#redrawthebalance

In light of recent news events, it seems that sexist stereotypes and misogynistic behaviors continue to be supported and trivialized in our society.  The “boys will be boys” attitude persists in all age groups, socioeconomic classes, and cultures despite attempts that have been made in the last few decades to eradicate it.  What can we, as parents and teachers, do to combat the many chauvinistic messages that bombard our children every day?

Inspiring Girls, an international organization based in the UK, has an idea.  Noting that many of our children are exposed at an early age to a multitude of animated characters, the organization also found that only 29% of these potential role models are female.  In a revealing video included on the resources page, a classroom teachers asks her students to draw people in several different professions such as a firefighter and a surgeon.  61 pictures were drawn as men.  5 were women.

The #redrawthebalance campaign from Inspiring Girls wants us to bring awareness to this disturbing example of gender stereotypes, and to help our students see that women can be strong, intelligent, and hard-working as well.  You can find a workbook on the resources page that can be printed with pages that prompt students to draw their own characters, who will hopefully be more representative of themselves.  There are also downloadable posters of characters such as “Carla the Coder,” who are female.

We’ve come a long way since we had to fight for the right for women to vote.  But all we have to do is take a look at the headlines to see that it hasn’t been far enough.

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from Inspiring Girls

 

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storymamas

As pretty much anyone who attends an ISTE conference will tell you, one of the most important features of the entire event is the connections that you make.  With the explosion of social media many educators have been able to find like-minded colleagues around the globe through Twitter chats, Facebook Posts, or blogging.  But when 20,000 of these people convene in a single city, these bonds can be strengthened as we get to meet each other in-person.

Two of the people I was fortunate to meet up with this week happen to be 2/3 of the storymamas team, Kim and Ashley.  These two, along with their friend Courtney, are the women behind the storymamas blog, a site dedicated to sharing book recommendations for children.  The three all have elementary school experience, and coincidentally they each have 2 children. (Did you have the second one three months ago, Kim, just to even things out?) As soon as I met Kim and Ashley, I knew that we all shared the same passion for reading and education, which definitely makes this an ISTE connection worth celebrating.  If I could just get them in the same room with my Twitter/Blog pal, Joelle Trayers, I think we might become a new alternative source of energy 😉

What is great about storymamas (besides the cool people who created it) is that the blog is a great resource for busy teachers and mothers who are looking for new children’s literature.  Now that my daughter is a teenager and stubbornly choosing to decide her own reading materials, I don’t find myself in the children’s book section very often.  It’s nice to have another place to get ideas for books to use with my younger grade levels.  I also like that they include author interviews on the blog with 3 questions about the story and 3 questions about the author.

So, want great new book ideas and insights into what makes writers tick?  Check out storymamas.  You can also find them on Twitter and Instagram at @storymamas, #storymamasbookaday & #authorsaturday

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Pool Noodle Projects – Reblog

I was at a dollar store this weekend, and saw a plethora of pool noodles.
It reminded me of this post I did a few years ago, and I thought it would be the perfect time for a repeat!

from http://www.babble.com/home/20-clever-ways-to-use-a-pool-noodle/#marble-run
from:  http://www.babble.com

After coming across one article on ways to use pool noodles, I did an internet search, and found a lot more creative ideas than I dreamed could exist for using these long pieces of foam!

My students use every spare moment they can get in my classroom to build elaborate marble runs, so the above picture caught my eye immediately.  You can find it, along with 19 other ideas for pool noodles here.

You can find the idea for pool noodle flash cards here.  To kick it up a notch for gifted thinkers, why not call out a word in a foreign language, or a definition, and have them find the noodle pieces that spell its counterpart?

Along with the Pool Noodle Super Sprinkler, you can find 29 other ideas here.

Of course, with all of these innovative suggestions I did not find any that matched the one drawn by one of my students!

from my Summer Pool Party packet
from my Summer Pool Party packet

Wow in the World

“Wow in the World” is a new podcast from NPR that brings interesting science and technology topics to families.  Hosted by Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas, this weekly show is between 20-25 minutes long, making it the perfect listening entertainment for carpools, short road trips, and family hangouts in the kitchen.  Designed to appeal to adults and kids, the topics so far range from space vacations to hermit crab wrestling.  With its quick pace, fascinating subjects, and (somewhat goofy) jokes, “Wow in the World” is a fun way to integrate STEM into the busy lives of families. You can listen and subscribe here.

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Click here to listen or subscribe to Wow in the World from NPR

Be Internet Awesome

Google has just released a new, free curriculum designed to teach digital citizenship and online safety.  The program, called, “Be Internet Awesome,” consists of 5 parts:

  • Share with Care – Be internet smart
  • Don’t fall for Fake – Be internet alert
  • Secure Your Secrets – Be internet strong
  • It’s Cool to Be Kind – Be internet kind
  • When in Doubt, Talk it Out – Be internet brave

The curriculum is downloadable, and is aligned with ISTE standards.  There is also a video game for kids to play that supports the lessons.

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image from paul.klintworth on Flickr

I haven’t had the chance to explore all of the resources, but it is becoming more and more urgent that our students receive education in this area at an early age.  The internet and social media are parts of our culture that are not going to go away, and it is our job to prepare our students to use these tools safely and effectively.

Undercover Robots Camp 2017

Do you live in the San Antonio, TX area?  Do you have a child aged 7-11?  Then this is the camp for you!  I am offering an Undercover Robots Camp this June, 2017.  We will be using the fabulous Dash robots from Wonder Workshop.  (Robot purchase is not required, but bringing your own can result in a camp discount.)  Here is the link to the registration page.

You can see highlights from last year’s camp sessions here and here.  We will be doing the “Spy School” session again this year (with modifications for students who previously participated) as well as a brand new “Circus” edition during our second week.

For more information, click here.  It’s going to be great fun!!!

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Gifts for the Gifted 2016 – Swish

A few years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season.  I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually on every Friday in November and December.  These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child.  For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, you can visit this page.

gifts

When ThinkFun sent me the game Swish to review, I knew right away that it would be a challenge for me.  I have a hard time with spatial reasoning – which is why my students can easily leave me in the dust when we play another spatial reasoning game, Set.

There are several differences between Swish and Set, however.  First of all, Swish is the second game in my “Gifts for the Gifted” series this year that has transparent cards. (See “Anaxi” for the first.)  Although both Set and Swish require you to look closely at the attributes of shapes on the cards and to collect sets that fit certain criteria, the Swish cards’ transparency is strategic because they must be stackable to create winning sets.  You must “swish” all of the ball shapes into matching colored hoop shapes on the cards.  A swish could consist of two cards, but you may be able to combine even more. (Apparently, you can make a swish of up to 12 cards!)

When our family played the game, my daughter had about 5 pairs of swishes before my husband and I could even get our eyes to focus on the cards.  It wasn’t long before she was collecting swishes with 3 or 4 cards stacked on top of each other.  Apparently, she is some kind of 14-year-old Swish Savant who isn’t bothered one bit by humiliatingly crushing the parents who brought her into this world;)  Fortunately, the creators of the game built in a cunning solution to this, which is that you can differentiate for the ability levels of the players.  Foundational players may only need to look for two stackable cards while advanced players can be required to find swishes that contain at least 3 or 4 (or 12!) cards.

Swish is for 2 or more players, ages 8 and up.  Younger players may want to begin with Swish, Jr.  Swish has won numerous toy awards, and is great for home or the classroom.  You can see reviews of more ThinkFun games and others on my Pinterest Board here.

Swish from ThinkFun
Swish from ThinkFun