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Twitter Party 3/20: Making Screen Time Beneficial #SylvanPlay

One of the top daily struggles I have with my boys is with screen time. Luckily there are many new educational apps and websites to help make that screen time beneficial (a win-win situation!). Please join me (TechMama) and co-host Mike Johnson of PlayGround Dad for a Twitter Party on March 20 from 6-7pm PST. The topics we will discuss includes screen time, finding educational games and apps, how we can empower our kids to learn on digital platforms, helpful resources and more.  The Twitter party is sponsored by Sylvan Learning, which has a personal approach to learning including the latest digital tools. I am excited to share that Sylvan Learning just launched a mobile game network for kids (the press release is below).  

 

Sylvan Learning

 

 

#SylvanPlay Making Screen Time Beneficial Twitter Party Details:

 

  • Twitter Party name: Making Screen Time Beneficial
  • Twitter party hashtag #SylvanPlay  ( @SylvanLearning  )
  • Time and date of the event: 6pm PST/9pm EST Thursday March 20
  • Host’s: Mike Johnson (@Playgrounddad) and Beth Blecherman (@TechMama)
  • How to join the party: Follow join in our discussion by sharing tweets with the hashtag #SylvanPlay on Twitter.  Party hosts will share the party questions. 
  • Prize details (optional)– Three $50 iTunes cards will be randomly be awarded to those participating using #SylvanPlay hashtag.
  • Rules: No purchase necessary to participate. A purchase will not improve your chance of winning. Winners will be randomly selected from those who participated during the party and answered at least one question using the Hashtag #SylvanPlay. Winners from the Twitter Party must be 18+ Years of Age and must have a valid USA mailing address and email address to receive the prize.

 

PRESS RELEASE:

Sylvan Learning Launches Mobile Games Network For Kids

SylvanPlayHelps Kids Build Critical Grade-Level Skills Through Fun, Educational Apps

 

BALTIMORE (March 13, 2014) – Is it ok for kids to binge on mobile games? Sylvan thinks so – as long as they are the right ones. But how can parents find games that guarantee their kids’ screen time is actually beneficial? To help take the guesswork out of choosing from the thousands of apps available, Sylvan Learning introduces SylvanPlay – a comprehensive, educational mobile games network for kids in 1st through 4th grade. SylvanPlay provides the best collection of educational games that reinforce grade-appropriate lessons in fun and engaging ways and enhance what kids are already learning in the classroom while on-the-go.

 

Rather than just one individual app, SylvanPlay is launching with a library of eight fun, Sylvan-approved edutainment apps all packaged together in one network. The games, which have been developed to help students build critical skills in reading, math, science, geography, strategic thinking and more, include:

 

  • Critter Cruise (ages 6 – 9): Inspires math and language learning as kids take a landmark filled road trip across North America, filling up their gas tank by correctly answering questions.  This game was developed exclusively for SylvanPlay and aligns to specific grade level content and the Common Core curriculum.
  • Battle Station (ages 6 – 9): Helps kids improve number sense as they defend their ship from enemy submarines by estimating their location using marker buoys. Will be an exclusive SylvanPlay launch.
  • Angle Asteroids (ages 6 – 9): Helps kids develop an intuition for angles as they position their laser to blast away the incoming asteroids. Will be an exclusive SylvanPlay launch.
  • Pizza Party (ages 6 – 9): Helps kids master fractions by splitting up the treats at a pizza party with fun tools like the Slice-o-matic. Will be an exclusive SylvanPlay launch.
  • Sushi Scramble (ages 6 – 9): Develops language skills through a multiplayer word-building game where 2 to 4 players collaborate or compete to “serve” up the most words or longest word.
  • Get Rocky (ages 6 – 9): Inspires an interest in science through a geology-based racing game that takes kids to the core of the earth.
  • Not Lost in the Universe (ages 6 – 9): Kids learn about how wind, the sun, water, and heat create lasting sources of energy while helping the brave explorers on the Planet Blarp refuel their power cells.
  • Wonder Bunny Math Race (ages 3 – 8): Helps younger kids ages 3-8 learn numbers, counting, addition and subtraction as they help Wonder Bunny win the race and collect carrots along the way.

 

“Sylvan Learning is focused on providing a personal learning experience using the latest technology to engage and connect with kids,” says Julia Fitzgerald, Chief Marketing Officer at Sylvan Learning. “We developed SylvanPlay as a way to extend the learning that happens in our centers and provide parents and kids with Sylvan-approved games they know will be fun, educational, and grade-appropriate. With SylvanPlay, parents can be confident that their kids are turning game time into brain-building time.”

 

The SylvanPlay network will continue to expand on an on-going basis and the content range will soon be available for kids up to 6th grade.  Additional edutainment apps and subjects will inspire more kids to play anywhere and learn everywhere in new and engaging ways.

 

SylvanPlay is available for both iOS and Android operating systems and offers an assortment of free and paid content ranging from $.99 to $4.99 To download to any mobile device, parents can type in “SylvanPlay” or any of the app titles into the search function of either the Apple App store or Android’s GooglePlay store to locate the educational mobile games network. All apps within the SylvanPlay network are free for current Sylvan Learning customers.

 

“As kids became more comfortable working with technology, Sylvan has moved its curriculum to iPads® with the SylvanSync platform,” continues Fitzgerald. “Sylvan continues to follow what families are doing and adapting the curriculum to the devices they prefer.  Why make parents say “no” to apps and games if we can turn them into educational tools that help their child succeed?”

 

To build the new educational game network, Sylvan Learning partnered with Fingerprint, a global technology company, to leverage its well-established mobile technology platform and proven network model. Now SylvanPlay can provide a fun and safe edutainment hub for kids and parents alike.

 

For more information on SylvanPlay and Sylvan Learning log on to http://www.SylvanLearning.com/resources/SylvanPlay or www.SylvanLearning.com.

 

# # #

 

About Sylvan Learning, Inc.
With more than 30 years of experience and more than 800 locations throughout North America, Sylvan Learning is the leading provider of personal learning for students in grades K–12. As the leader in supplemental education, Sylvan is transforming how students learn, inspiring them to succeed in school and in life. Sylvan’s proven tutoring approach blends amazing teachers with SylvanSync™ technology on the iPad® for an engaging learning experience. Sylvan programs include study skills, math, reading, writing and test prep for college entrance and state exams. Sylvan also provides educational services to public and nonpublic schools. The company was founded in 1979 and is headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. For more information, call 1-800-31-SUCCESS, or visit www.SylvanLearning.com or Sylvan’s Mom Minded blog at www.SylvanLearning.com/blog.

 

About Fingerprint

Fingerprint is a mobile technology company offering a dynamic technology platform through customer networks. Fingerprint’s enterprise platform solution, with an easy-to-use SDK and curated play-and-learn content from top developers around the world, enables global brands to license and develop customized and localized networks of their own. Fingerprint is funded by leading consumer tech investors including Corus Entertainment and K2MediaLabs. For more information, visit fingerprintplay.com or facebook.com/fingerprintplay.

SylvanPlay and SylvanSync are trademarks of Sylvan Learning

iPad is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.

 

Disclosure: The Twitter Party is sponsored by Sylvan Learning.

 

TechMama Talks: Work, Family, Education and Mobile Tech

TechMamas talkIt may have been a month since I last posted, but that gave me some time to think. During that time I decided to channel my dear Grandmother in my writing, who as she got older decided to share her authentic voice. Of course, that involved some embarrassing moments such as when she met a new boyfriend of mine for the first time and asked “I look forward to seeing you walk down the isle together”. I joked and said “you mean at the grocery store?”. But my Grandmother must of been reading our body language because we did end up walking down the isle and are a happily married couple running after our adorable but energetic three boys. I feel privileged to have met an amazing community of bloggers online and share my insights on technology. Now I want to go back to sharing my musings on life and important initiatives.

 

Parents and Work: I am excited to see women developing initiatives to empower and promote career advancement for women at work.  But from what I experienced as a parent, the job market is very tricky these days so finding work that offers a salary to cover the costs of childcare and extra incidental costs is a challenge. Many parents also need some sort of offer flexible work environments, which can add to the challenge. The job market has changed, there are new job skills required including technology and social media. In addition, while online networking has created multiple channels for career advancement, choosing the right channels to create real business opportunities is an important consideration.

 

The childcare challenge is not just a mom problem – it is a “parenting” challenge. I started a lively discussion on Facebook about this topic and I was thrilled to see responses of parents that are overcoming all types of challenges to work and also parents making the choice to stay home. I made a comment that we all value time with our children, that their happiness is the most important goal of whatever arrangements are made. I look forward to share stories on my blog of women that have found creative solutions to adapt to the modern workplace. Including women that have taken time off for kids then not only ramped back up to work years later – they BLASTED OFF!

 

Family Technology: We are at a time where you can stream, automate, use voice, consume content and entertainment in many ways and multiple devices. But families are struggling with helping their kids set screen time limits, stay safe online, learn social networking etiquette, decide what devices they really NEED and HOW TO use them. To make matters more complicated, kids now grow up surrounded with technology so it is second nature. For example, I have an Internet connected TV and my kids are the ones that signed up and are power users of Netflix compared to me. I feel so old school watching shows on TV networks. I know how to stream everything on my PC’s but at night I still like to turn on the TV and watch a show. My kids hardly watch traditional TV networks anymore.

 

Luckily because of my business, I also consume information and social network online which allows me to talk my kids’ language. At the same time I realize the online world is a dangerous place for kids that require a new type of education. I have been writing online for years about the concept I describe as “Internet safety is the new sex talk”. I remember years ago when I first said that at a social media conference in New York there was silence (shock) then lots of tweeting to share. Now that mostly all devices have a web browsers, it is hard to lock our kids away from the online world.

 

My perspective is that parents need to first educate themselves, then their kids, then create regular conversations and family rules about Internet Safety (and logical consequences if they are not followed). For example, sitting down with teens “together” to look at the privacy controls for all the platforms they are on and “discuss” which should be set to remain safe. But open conversations are key, and it should include cyber etiquette and consequences for inappropriate cyber etiquette (including going to jail!). In our family discussions, I also share age appropriate news stories as examples.  I want to spend more time covering all the online platforms kid spend time on. Of course, I find new platforms cropping up it seems like every day! Automated internet safety controls such as web filters, monitoring apps and privacy control settings are also an effective supplement, but they won’t keep kids safe everywhere they go because as I said web browsers are everywhere! So parents need to do the balancing act of setting “relevant” automated controls, communication and education. That balance is not easy!

 

No matter what strategy parents have, new challenges come up. Like how I tell a bunch of 10 year olds during baseball practice last year that they “HAVE NO REASON TO BE ON INSTAGRAM.. SERIOUSLY!”. Or how do I tell a lovely teen girl (family friend) that the number of LIKES she receives on her Facebook photo does NOT reflect her TRUE BEAUTY. Or how smartphones have become a tool that can get kids arrested if they take the wrong picture or participate in the wrong social media exchange. Or how dangerous the online world is, so much so that I need to have a SCARED STRAIGHT strategy constantly updating the teens I know of the mistakes I read about hoping that they can learn from them. At the same time, I am regularly amazed at some of the positive ways teens are creating support online. When our beloved hamster died recently my son said he received comfort from a Reddit Hamster sub directory (created to memorialize Hamsters that had passed away).  My son received sympathies from around the world when he posted a picture of our Hamster.

 

Education Tech: One of the challenges of our education system is that while more and more kids relate to visual, interactive and experiential learning, many curriculum’s are still based on inflexible models filled with worksheets. The shining stars are the Teachers and Schools trying to transition to experiential learning. Luckily, now there are so many ways to learn online that I could spend weeks covering all the websites and programs. After speaking at a few education tech events and meeting the edtech company founders, I decided that sharing the exciting opportunities that exist in digital learning is a passion of mine. I want to highlight the education tech innovators on my blog as a way to help support their important contributions they are making to the future of education.

 

Family Schedule Tech:  One of the main reasons I wrote the book “My Parent Plan” was to help families learn project planning skills. After years of professional project planning I know the concepts but at times still struggle with how to balance it all. With three boys now going THREE completely different directions, I decided to dive deeper into tech solutions to help me manage. Or at least keep my head above water..

 

Health Tech: Feeding my family a healthy diet is one of the biggest challenges I have each week. While I like the concept of eating plant based foods I am also balancing understanding what is best for my family that has different nutritional needs. I will be covering some of online websites and apps that can help parents struggling with healthy eating solutions. I will also be covering my comic adventures trying to convince my sons why healthy eating is important. Including how my teen is “dreaming” of going to a local burger restaurant someday again as a reward. And how at times he sneaks out with his friends to get junk food for dinner after looking in the fridge filled with “green” foods.

 

So while I am far away from being a Grandmom myself, I honor her voice by speaking my own. Whats on your mind?

 

 

 

 

Curious.com Launches Video Seminars With Sunset Magazine

After years of school it was not until college that I realized I was a visual learner. Now as a mom with three kids, I found out that my kids are also visual learners. I have also come to the conclusion that many people are also visual learners. Just ask someone how they learned to make their favorite meal. For me it was watching my Grandmom make chicken soup which now I make the same way.  Or watching my Pilates teacher demonstrate what using “core” stomach muscles really means (i.e. – not the cheater’s sit ups I have been doing for years using my back instead of my stomach).

 

 

That is why I have been so excited to see all the new learning options online using visual platforms such as video. Curious.com is one of those exciting websites with video lessons that inspires their online community to learn, teach and share a wide range of topics. They also believe that learning should happen beyond the classroom: “At Curious we believe in lifelong learning. Learning for its own sake. Learning that happens beyond classrooms, and not only in academic subjects (unless you count beer brewing, pipe soldering, and organic gardening as academic). Learning as a necessity of living “.

 

The new announcement out today is just in time for the holidays, especially those “Turkey cooking challenged but have lots of family coming over” like myself. Curious is collaborating with Sunset Magazine to create Sunset Seminars: “Sunset Seminars” will initially contain lessons in three courses: Sunset’s Perfect Holiday Meal, Sunset’s Essentials of Wine, and Sunset’s Guide to Container Gardening.  See the press release below. Looks like there will be Turkey (and lots of other holiday) cooking and entertaining video lessons in my near future!

 

What are you Curious to learn?

 

 


 

PRESS RELEASE:

IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, CURIOUS.COM LAUNCHES “SUNSET SEMINARS” IN COLLABORATION WITH SUNSET MAGAZINE
Sunset and Curious.com Share Food, Wine and Garden Inspiration through Interactive and Entertaining Video-based Lessons

 

Menlo Park, CA, November 21 – Curious.com, Inc., the marketplace for lifelong learning, today announced the launch of  “Sunset Seminars” on Curious.com. Created in collaboration with Sunset magazine, the premier guide to living in the West, “Sunset Seminars” will initially contain lessons in three courses: Sunset’s Perfect Holiday Meal, Sunset’s Essentials of Wine, and Sunset’s Guide to Container Gardening. Available now, Sunset Seminars can be accessed by going to www.curious.com/sunsetmagazine.

 

Each course, which is taught by one of Sunset’s expert editors, consists of 6-8 video-based lessons. In time for the holidays, Sunset’s Perfect Holiday Meal features Sunset food editor Margo True sharing invaluable insights on everything from a 1966 recipe for Thanksgiving stuffing that’s withstood the test of time, to how to prepare the perfect bird on the grill. In Sunset’s Essentials of Wine, a comprehensive primer on wine appreciation, wine editor Sara Schneider takes wine lovers on a journey of “Old World” and “New World” red, white and sparkling wines, plus takes a trip to the supermarket wine aisle. In Sunset’s Guide to Container Gardening, garden guru Johanna Silver teaches everything needed to cultivate a vibrant container garden from choosing the right containers and, selecting the best plants to maintaining a beautiful garden.

 

As with all lessons on the Curious platform, Sunset Seminar learners will have the means to ask their instructors questions and receive input on their own creations, providing a rare and intimate level of access to some of the world’s leading food, wine, and home and garden experts.

 

Sunset Seminars represent Curious’ first co-branded lesson collection giving Sunset a new platform through which to share their expert editorial content, while also infusing Curious with more lessons from the world’s best teachers. Curious already allows learners to browse over 3,000 lessons by theme through other collections, including such favorites as Languages, Art & Photo, Tasty Treats, Green Thumb and Learn to Code. Adding quality co-branded content is the next logical step.

 

“Sunset’s readers don’t want to just read our content. They want to live it,” said Peggy Northrop, Sunset Editor-in-Chief. “This collaboration with Curious.com allows us to give our fans–plus millions of passionate consumers who are actively seeking quality DIY instruction on the Web–what they want: new ways to access and learn from Sunset’s trusted experts anytime, anywhere.”

 

“Sunset is an iconic brand, known for covering the West’s best flavors, destinations, design trends, and innovations. Sunset’s content and amazing editors are ideally suited for the Curious flavor of video-based lessons,” said Justin Kitch, founder and CEO of Curious.com. “But even more importantly, the Sunset team shares our vision and passion at Curious for helping people achieve, grow, and learn.”

 

How it works:

 

Beginning today, anyone can go to Curious.com to access Sunset Seminars. The Sunset Seminars will initially feature 19 lessons on food, wine, and gardening. Designed specifically for learners, all lessons on Curious are comprised of interactive videos broken into “bite-size” conceptual sections. They also include exercises and additional resources, such as recipes, product and book recommendations, and a special Sunset magazine subscription offer. The Sunset Seminars can be accessed 24×7 via computer or iPad so that people can tap into Sunset’s expertise anytime.
To access Sunset Seminars at Curious.com go to www.curious.com/sunsetmagazine, or view other lesson collections at www.curious.com/learn.

 

About Sunset
Sunset (www.sunset.com) is the leading lifestyle brand in the West. Through magazines and books, events and experiences, and digital and social media, Sunset covers the West’s best flavors, destinations, design trends, and innovations. Sunset engages and inspires an audience of over five million educated, active and affluent consumers every month through its five regional print editions—Pacific Northwest, Northern California, Southern California, Southwest and Mountain—as well as via all tablet devices and its website. In addition to its print and digital publication, Sunset showcases the region’s unique lifestyle and noteworthy destinations through its flagship events, established home programs, licensing partners, books and International Wine Competition. Sunset is part of the Time Inc. Lifestyle Group.

 

About Curious

Founded in 2012, Curious.com, Inc. offers an innovative and engaging marketplace that connects lifelong learners with exceptional teachers around the world. Curious is home to short-format video-based interactive lessons that help anyone learn about anything on their own time. It also provides a range of free, easy-to-use tools for teachers that enable them to market, share, and monetize their lessons to millions of learners. Curious is a private company funded by Redpoint Ventures, Bill Campbell, Jesse Rogers and Justin Kitch based in Menlo Park, CA. For more information visit www.curious.com.

 

Disclosure: This is a press release.

 

 

 

Guest Post: How Do You Make A Mom’s Life Easier? Digitize the Post-it Note!

The following is a guest post by Kimberley Clayton Blaine of TheGoToMom.TV:

What in the world are you going to do with all those Post-it Notes? How about ripping them off of the cabinet, the family calendar and off of your car’s steering wheel and organize them like a good mom should! LOL. Seriously, I took a vote on my FB and G+ pages and found that moms are using Post-it Notes all in the same way. Moms are a team, a tribe, a culture who depend on the ever-so powerful Post-it Note to help organize our busy lives  — I hear you all cheering me on, I really do!

 

 

 

 

Moms use Post-it Notes for:

  • Grocery lists
  • Household chores
  • Reminders/To-do’s
  • To make piñatas
  • To make crumpled up cat toys
  • Notes to kids
  • Art project material
  • Must I go on? It’s never ending…

 

The Evernote app lets you easily collect and find everything that matters! And the adoring Post-it Note is now Evernote’s new best friend. To keep our lives in good shape, we moms need to remember everything and work more effectively.It’s time to let your smart phone marry the Post-it Note. Have no fear! You’ll still be able to jot your notes down and organize your family’s world with all those pretty notes, they’d never take that task from you girl! But now you can photograph all your colorful themed Post-it Notes and file them in the Evernote app. So simple! So Innovative!

 

Here is how it works… Evernote has developed the Post-it Note Camera feature exclusively for iOS 7, available on iPhone and iPad. With one tap, any Post-it Note is captured into Evernote, digitally enhanced and saved as a crisp, clear Evernote image. In the app Post-it Notes can be organized by color, have a reminder added or a due date assigned. Whether it’s a to-do list, a reminder, a sketch or a big idea, Evernote makes the Post-it Note searchable, providing users the flexibility of paper and efficiency of technology. The Evernote App is available for free from the App Store on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch or at www.appstore.com/evernote. For more information on the Post-it Brand and Evernote, visit Post-it.com/Evernote.

 

The app, in my opinion is very well designed. It’s simple, clean and very easy to use. It’s pretty intuitive so you can figure it out yourself. I no longer have three Post-it Notes hanging off my purse when I leave the house. They are nicely organized in my phone all in one app and easily accessible.  Yes, my kitchen will always have new Post-it Notes reappearing each day – just waiting to be photographed. But hey, that’s what we signed up for right? Motherhood  — The ultimate keeper of the calendar.

 

Why get the app you say? Because Evernote feature for Post-it® Notes allows you to Express, Capture, Search, Share and Brag

 

Since technology continues to permeate every aspect of our lives, get the free app and go wild. Isn’t about time you finally remember the things you like, your favorite websites, research better, organize your business or household better and plan your next relaxing trip? And you can do it all with mom’s new little helper. Evernote.

 

Learn more about Post-it Brand and Evernote by visiting your local office supply store or by visiting Postit.com/Evernote , Post-it Brand on Twitter (@postitproducts ) or Facebook  (http://facebook.com/postit ).

 

 

 

About the Kimberley (TheGoToMom):

Kimberley Clayton Blaine, MA, MFT, is the executive producer of the online parenting shows www.TheGoToMom.TV and www.MommyToMommy.TV and author of The Go-To Mom’s Parents’ Guide to Emotion Coaching Young Children and The Internet Mommy. When she’s not chasing her kids, she filming them on her iPhone with ptch.com app.   Disclosure: The Go-To Mom Productions was compensated for the production of this episode/an or blog post by 3M/Post-it Brand. Kimberley Blaine will only promote, endorse and support companies she believes to have the highest standards in products and/or services that contribute to or enhance the well-being of families.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digital Kids EDU SF 2013- Innovations in Education through Digital Media

As a family tech journalist one of the most exciting trends I have seen is the combining of education and technology to inspire new ways of learning. My kids have grown up using technology for communication, entertainment, and yes… learning.  Their assortment of educational tech includes math apps on mobile devices, listening to audiobooks, using assistive tech tools, learning to program online, watching instructional videos and even participating in fun and educational mutli-player games. It’s because of their positive experiences with technology and learning that I am so excited to speak at this month’s  Digital Kids Edu in San Francisco. Here are the details:

 

“At a time when the market for digital learning is exploding, the September 18th Digital Kids Edu  day in San Francisco gives you what you need to know to create and use best-selling digital learning products for kids.

 

District technology directors, curriculum designers, administrators, educators and researchers looking to integrate digital learning tools in the classroom are encouraged to attend.

 

The event also caters to technology professionals, publishers and digital directors along with media executives seeking to educate kids via digital devices are encouraged to attend.

As a courtesy to educators, Digital Kids is offering an exclusive discount code for $100 off registration.

 

Here is information on the panel I am moderating at Digital Kids Edu:

10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. (Sept. 18 2013)
Emerging Platforms & Technologies
As kids continue to immerse themselves in the digital space, new ways to inspire learning are frequently emerging. The digital kids education space offers unique complexities including interactivity, immersion, scalability and intense user involvement that new technologies are now leveraging. This session will examine the new technologies and platforms being used as education tools. Speakers will also discuss the alternatives that are available for the various platforms.
Moderator: Beth Blecherman, Founder/Editor & Chief Technology Mom, TechMamas.com
Srinivas Mandyam, CTO/Founder, Tynker
Nancy MacIntyre, CEO and Co-Founder, Fingerprint
-
Josh Chan, CEO, LightUp

David Baszucki, Co-Creator and CEO, ROBLOX

 

Check out the Digital Kids Edu speaker list to see who will be sharing their edutech insights and the schedule for the panel list. The next day is Digital Kids Summit which also has an exciting list of speakers.

 

You can register here for Digital Kids Summit and Digital Kids Edu (Sept. 18-19): http://digitalkidssummit.com/register/.   Register by September 13 and save $100! Attendees have multiple registration options: registering for Digital Kids Summit, registering for Digital Kids Edu or registering for both events at a discount.  I also want to share my speaker discount, so use this DISCOUNT CODE speakervip to get a 10% discount.

 

 

 

 

Top Tools To Keep Kid’s Homework on Track

 

 

Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium at TechMamas.com 1

With my busy life as a working mom, I am always on the move. This requires my technology to be flexible, fit my lifestyle and be available for the kids especially when it’s homework time. Finding the right technology tools can help my family have more productive days. Using Office 365 Home Premium is not only a game changer for families, but it is a great way to keep my kid’s homework on the right track.

 

 
 
 
 
 

Listed below are my homework tech tips and video of my family in action ( click below to view the video).

 

 

 

 

Tip 1 – Homework storage and document management: The first step for homework management in my house was to create a storage and document management system. It’s important that I can access and review my kid’s homework from anywhere, and now I can do this with Office 365 Home Premium, as it is now integrated with SkyDrive – Microsoft’s storage in the cloud.

 

 

Microsoft Office 365 Skydrive TechMamas.com

 

 

Once we store our Microsoft Word, OneNote, PowerPoint or Excel documents on SkyDrive, my family can even view and edit them using Office Web Apps from a browser! How cool is that?

 

 

 

 

Office 365 Home Premium web apps enable classmates (or anyone we want to share documents with) to edit or view group assignments by using the links we send them.

 

 

Microsoft Office 365 Skydrive TechMamas.com

 

 

If we happen to be out of the house using a PC that has Windows 7 or higher, logging into our Microsoft account will allow us to stream a version of Office 365 Home Premium to that PC for a one time use.

 

 

Tip 2 – Organize Homework Tools: I set up a system to help my kids have the right tools for homework and know where to store digital documents. We have homework supplies such as paper, pencils, paper clips, stapler, rulers and pens in a desk drawer of our family room desk (where our shared family Windows 8 desktop is located). With Office 365 Home Premium, our family has all the most current Office tools (Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint and more) and all their work is stored on SkyDrive in organized folders. They use OneNote for gathering information, Word to create their essays, PowerPoint to create presentations and Excel for spreadsheets in math class. Our kids use OneNote, to create “homework” notebooks that allow them to write and edit using touch, type or stylus.

 

 

Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium OneNote TechMamas.com

 

 

For some math work, a good old fashioned pencil and ruler is good enough. But when my kids work on equations, they enjoy using OneNote’s equation editor on our Windows 8 touch desktop, allowing them to use a stylus to write the equation and then have it converted to type.

 

 

Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium OneNote TechMamas.com

 

 

They also use OneNote tools to record audio and video.

 

 

Microsoft Office 365 OneNote Home Premium TechMamas.com

 

 

My kids’ OneNote notebooks are also the place they can gather information about their projects, including links to web pages, inserted photos and even embedded Excel spreadsheets that update the original spreadsheet when changes are made. Word allows my kids to insert online pictures to their essays and the resume reading feature allows me to utilize small pockets of time during the day to review their book reports, and resume each time at the same place I left off. There are also great templates for my kids to use when creating their book reports.

 

 

 

 

With PowerPoint my kids can give their presentations with the advantage of using Presenter mode.

 

 

Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium Powerpoint TechMamas.com

 

 

With Excel, kids can use formulas, charts and tables to represent math equations and percentages. Using those tools to represent math assignments helps them understand the concepts. And it looks great when turned into the teacher!

 

 

 

 

3. Set Up Ways to Move and Work – to Help Keep Kids Focused: Some kids need movement to focus and get work done. One of my boys responds very well to homework breaks where he is really exercising his muscles and alternates between jogs around the house and bouncing on a mini-trampoline in the back yard. Then, quite by accident, I discovered that he finishes his work more quickly if he sits (ok… bounces) on my big, inflated yoga ball when attacking his math and writing assignments. He now looks to that yoga ball as his favorite chair, and is able to focus on his homework for longer periods of time because he moves when needed. He even learned to type while bouncing! My next purchase may need to be a balance ball chair. For longer sessions requiring significant writing or typing we ask him to use a regular chair. When sitting, he is usually squeezing a small hand therapy ball for some stationary “hand exercise”. At least that keeps him seated!

 

 

 

 

4. Teach Your Kids How to Get homework done From Anywhere. With all of our afterschool activities (and especially during Spring Little League), we can’t seem to find a regular time during the week to sit down and do homework together. It is especially challenging when I am at work or a meeting late in the day for my sitter to spread out his time between all of my kids. Luckily our documents are on SkyDrive (in the cloud), so I can help my kids with homework (and “remind” them about their assignments) even if I am not at home. When they have questions on their homework and provide me with a file name, I can take a look and help. Even though they may not especially like that I can always see the latest version of their homework files, they DO appreciate that we can edit together so their assignments get done. After my kids saw how I use Office 365 Home Premium to get assignments done no matter where I am, they started asking to do that as well. My older son figured out that while my twins are playing a baseball game during a school night, he can be there to watch but also work on school projects using one of our Windows 8 devices. Learning to get work done by utilizing available segments during the day is an important skill not only for my kids’ homework but also for their future careers. This also enables our family to check off our list of work each day, so that we can have quality time at night before bed, just talking – no tech in sight.

 

 

 

Technology and Innovation in Education Update: Dell, MIT and MSNBC

One of the daily struggles I have with my kids is also something that has brought so much amazing information into our lives: technology. On the plus side our family computer offers endless educational information online including homework and class photo websites. This includes software to help with school assignments such as creating essays using Microsoft Word, math and organizational lists on Excel and  presentations using videos and Powerpoint presentations. It also includes news updates, how-to videos on everything (including videos that helped my kids learn skateboarding techniques) and endless humor that makes us laugh. The challenge is teaching kids to unleash the power of technology by using it to learn and create, but also mind screen time limits and social networking etiquette. I look at technology training as “the new talk” that all parents should discuss with their kids. I also think it is important to set up a proper homework workspace (that includes space for technology) to help kids get access to what they need to do homework.

 

Learning about technology at home also helps my kids with a background to use technology at school. My elementary school twin boys have a technology lab at school where they learn how to type, do learning games such as math facts, research for projects and create photo art. Their teachers have Smartboards that allow them to bring up electronic images or online sites as examples of the subjects covered in classroom learning. The bottom line is that I believe digital literacy is not only one of the important skills my kids need when they enter the workforce but also offers unlimited ways for them to express their creativity.

 

I am participating in a Dell program that is called #Dell Dozen (see disclosures at bottom of this post). Part of that program gives me access to information about technology and education. Just a few days ago they shared information about the day of innovation Dell hosted at MIT. While I could not be there, I found information that filled me in on the discussions – including a livestream from the Dell Innovation In Education Think Tank @ MIT  and video segments from the NBC + Dell “Technology in the Classroom: What’s Next?” Town Hall @ MIT . One of the videos asked the important question: “Will Technology Transform Learning“: “Moderators Alex Witt and Chelsea Clinton sit down at the MIT Media Lab with 3rd Grade Teacher Susie Brooks, New Classrooms Co-founder Joel Rose, and MIT Professor Mitch Resnick, and an audience of K-12 educators to talk about how technology will transform learning and classrooms.”

 

Chelsea Clinton brought up the challenge that technology in the classroom should not be considered for just for math and science—but also for English, civics, languages, and history.  The panelists also brought up many good points related to technology and education. I summarized  some of their points bellow:

 

  • Nothing more important then to learn to think creatively for all jobs. Not just information delivery but to think creatively to finish a project.
  • It is important not to just drop ship computers at schools- it should be a higher delivery model to offer instruction for different kids.
  • Technology is important for digital literacy and collaborative learning.
  • Benefits are that technology breaks boundaries, goes across ages and disciplines. But it is scary for teachers to implement the new tech devices into the classroom.
  • Technology helps with individualized learning so kids are not stuck in a curriculum by age and can tailor to their interests. For example, a kid who is bored by standard math at school can be fascinated by attaching sensors to roller blades to find out how fast they are going.
  • Important to keep close eye on use of technology so as not isolate, make sure to balance with real life social interaction.
  • Teachers should be the models of good learners, so Teachers need to adapt to new situations.

 

Dell also shared an info-graphic they developed on Innovation in Education.  Some of the data included 85% of teachers said that technology allowed them to provide a more learning experience in class while 63% of students say the benefits of technology in classrooms outweighs the distractions. 71% of students say they have access to more advanced technology at home then the classroom.

 

 

 

My personal experience has been that I am thrilled that my kids can view interactive information on a Smartboard at their schools (which they find engaging) and my son with a writing disorder can use a laptop to type essays at class. But one of the big barriers is that not every school can get access to the technology and to give training they need (and deserve). Dell also announced their Education Challenge (that started September 13) that offers prizes and awards to help students put their ideas into action. DellChallenge.org is an educational innovation community “where university students, academia, primary/K12 educators, mentors, judges and fellow students from around the globe can network, share best practices and inspire each other to create educational change“.

 

What do you feel about the importance of digital literacy skills for your kids? Do you feel like technology in education creates innovation or distraction (or both)? Please share your thoughts.

 

Disclosure: This is not a paid post. I am a member of the Dell Dozen program that gives me access to Dell products. Part of the suggested activities of the program is sharing information about their initiates but my choices about what to post and my words are my own.