**New version of My Parent Plan coming out May 30 2013 while I will be at the Book Expo of America in New York City. Please check back May 30 for info on the UPDATED VERSION!
While I’m known today as “TechMam ...
On Nov. 7, I was thrilled to speak at a KidTech Meetup organized and moderated by Chandini Ammineni , Co-Founder of Activity Hero, to discuss how Kid Tech startups can get in front of their target audience. Speakers included @iRewardChart, ...
On Nov 27, I was excited to participate in the Palo Alto Tech Using Educators (PATUE) weekly edtech conference series. The organizer of this discussion was Sam Patterson (@LearningsLiving). His website, “Paperless Classroom”, is ...
At the recent launch of Office 365 Home Premium in New York City’s Bryant Park, I had the opportunity to experience the new features of Office while talking to some very exciting people (keep reading to find out who!). The Microsoft ...
I was one of the lucky ones. As a Senior Manager at a top consulting firm with a 4 year-old son and twins on the way, I was offered options. The firm was very serious about providing a family friendly workplace, so I could have taken mater ...
This has been a busy time for the Women’s Movement. Today happens to be International Women’s Day 2013 which has “thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements“. The d ...
I was lucky to be invited many years ago on a magic bus ride to CES, which was the first time I had a fun adventure with the team from Parnassus Group (Steve Broback, Jason Preston and more). Over the years they always had the pulse of soci ...
**I have doing research on educational environments for my own kids and found out about Six Seconds.org. Their about page explained “Through 15 years of global experience and extensive research, we’ve found that the scientifically-bas ...
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 c ...
Our busy family of five keeps organized as long as our schedule is managed and under control. A messy schedule results in a messy family life. I use technology to create a workflow and make sure everyone understands their res ...
As a technologist that writes about setting rules for technology limits with kids, I am always on the lookout for events and activities that inspire invention and creativity.
The Maker Faire is one of those events that will inspire kids and adults to show their creative side. It will be at the San Mateo County Events Center, CA Saturday 10am – 8pm and Sunday 10am – 6pm. Here is a link for more information.
The Maker Faire About Page explains: “Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. All of these “makers” come to Maker Faire to show what they have made and to share what they have learned.” It is a fascinating event that we look forward to each year!
I was thrilled to receive an email that gave me the opportunity to offer a (flash) GIVEAWAY for three families to win tickets for their family to attend the Maker Faire this weekend. Maximum of 5 tickets per family.
Update: Winners of tickets were randomly choosen -Sabz Moscon, Lizz Porter and Sandy Gram.
TO ENTER – PLEASE FILL OUT THE RAFFLECOPTER FORM BELOW. *FLASH CONTEST* Contest ends 5/17 at 8pm winners will be notified by 10pm.
I am also excited to see the latest electric car from Toyota (RAV4 EV) will be at the Maker Faire. We hope to convert our cars to electric as we replace them moving forward. Here is the press release information about the new Toyota RAV4 EV:
“The new Toyota RAV4 EV, the latest electric car from Toyota only sold in California; it’s a family-friendly car that’s piquing the interest of environmentally-conscious Californians. Attendees also have the exclusive opportunity to ask questions directly to people who helped develop the new electric car at Toyota.
Some of the activities in Toyota’s area will include:
· Explore the RAV4 EV and speak with Executive Program Manager Sheldon Brown
· Participate in the bicycle-powered slot car track (photo below)!
I was lucky to be invited many years ago on a magic bus ride to CES, which was the first time I had a fun adventure with the team from Parnassus Group (Steve Broback, Jason Preston and more). Over the years they always had the pulse of social media, organizing events such as Tweethouse and It Won’t Stay In Vegas at CES. So when I was invited to join the (pre) Dent The Future 2013 press trip in February (to check out the location) organized by none other then the Parnassus Group, of course I said yes!
Dent The Future (March 24-27 in Sun Valley Idaho) is a new conference that “explores the magic and science of visionary leadership and groundbreaking success. They aim to translate the success of great leaders in business, politics, or charity into a set of lessons for those who would “put a dent” in the future.”
While I had some scheduling challenges (including Spring Break for my kids) so I won’t be able to attend Dent this year, I already put it on the schedule for next year. I will look forward to bringing my whole family with me to enjoy Sun Valley while I experience Dent 2014. Those who will be following the conference from afar like me can do so by following Dent on Twitter (hashtag #Dent2013).
Listed below are some of the details from the “Pre” Dent 2013 press trip in February. We had an amazing trip that was not only filled with fascinating discussions on social media, but also with the beauty and fun of the fabulous Sun Valley Resort. I will be writing another post with more details (and sharing my pictures) about Sun Valley Resort (which was a highlight of the trip!).
Here are the two websites to find out more information about Sun Valley Resort: www.visitsunvalley.com and www.sunvalley.com. We stayed at the Sun Valley Resort Inn and it was beautiful. There is a great transportation system to go to the mountains, it is not crowded and the weather is usually sunny (per the name “Sun Valley”). The resort is very family friendly – and even has a mountain that is perfect for beginners or family skiing called Dollar Mountain. The other mountain (Bald Mountain) is great for Intermediate to advanced skiers. The Sun Valley Snowsports School has lessons for all levels (and even family lessons). I was excited that they have a “fundamentals” day program for kids (8:30 – 3:30) that includes lunch. There are also programs for Intermediate or Advanced kids as well. There are other winter activities such as ice skating and sleigh rides.
**My next post will share more details about the beautiful and family friendly Sun Valley Resort.
Disclosure: Travel related expenses were provided to the press covering this event.
On Nov 27, I was excited to participate in the Palo Alto Tech Using Educators (PATUE) weekly edtech conference series. The organizer of this discussion was Sam Patterson (@LearningsLiving). His website, “Paperless Classroom”, is a great resource for information on how technology can help students learn. Meetups such as this one, hosted by PATUE, help both educators and parents like me interested in technology for kids with learning differences share important information.
I started my talk with a brief perspective as a parent who uses what is commonly called “assistive technology” to help my kids, each of whom has a different learning style. Speaking with me at the PATUE meetup was Shelley Haven of “Technology to Unlock Potential”. We met about a year ago when I attended one of her classes. Shelley is an educational technology consultant who provides assistive technology services including assessments, training, tech configuration, hands-on workshops, classes and more.
Her website is a great resource in this field and includes what she refers to as her Assistive Technology Toolbox, listing technology tools she uses with students and suggested resources. Shelley highlights on her website, Techpotential.net, that “Assistive technology can be a great equalizer, helping to level the academic playing field. The right technology tools can reduce the impact of learning barriers, leverage a student’s strengths, or provide an alternative means to accomplish a task.”
The two topics I discussed were 1) the Immersion Reading feature of the Kindle Fire and 2) the new Livescribe Sky WiFi Pen. Immersion Reading is a feature exclusive to the newest models of the Kindle Fire. Readers who purchase a Kindle eBook as well as the corresponding audiobook from Audible.com can listen to a professionally narrated book while watching it “come alive” with real time highlighting on the Kindle Fire. What I like about the Immersion Reading feature is the professional narration of the audio book making the story come alive, rather than a computer-generated electronic voice.
I stumbled onto this feature when looking into options for one of my fourth grade twins who loves stories but does not like to read. So for now, the Immersion Reading feature of the Kindle, when combined with audio books, is enabling my 9 year old “resistant reader” to listen (and follow) a new book every few days. When we ask him about the story he describes it in vivid detail, demonstrating high comprehension. He also is learning grammar and punctuation by following along in the text.
“Academic research supports the assertion that all readers can benefit from listening while reading. In an influential 2007 study, “Learning through Listening in the Digital World,” neuropsychologist David Rose, Ed.D. and professor Bridget Dalton, Ed.D. drew upon cognitive educational research to report that “both learning to listen and listening to learn are critical to literacy in the 21st century as new technologies rebalance what it means to be literate and to learn.”
Professor David Dockterman commented on Rose’s and Dalton’s findings, “For struggling readers, narration can provide decoding support, but there’s an added benefit to well-narrated text that helps even competent readers. Hearing something read with expression provides additional clues to the meaning beyond the words themselves.”
The next assistive tech topic I covered was the new Livescribe Sky WiFi pen called Sky. This product is brand new and now has WiFi and cloud integration via Evernote. From the press release: “Livescribe smartpens digitally capture everything you hear and write, allowing you to simply tap your ink and play back everything you recorded at that moment.
“The Sky wifi smartpen wirelessly syncs your notes and audio with your Evernote account, making them immediately accessible on your computer, smartphone, tablet, or the web. When paired with your mobile device, Sky offers the natural feel and precision of writing on paper with the advantages of viewing, sharing, and saving handwritten notes on a tablet.”
Here is a video the demonstrates the Livescribe Smartpens:
Shelley Haven then discussed a wide range of assistive technology tools that can help “lower the hurdles” for those who learn differently. Shelley pointed out that even students who are successful at school may have learning differences, such as someone who can easily articulate an essay verbally but has trouble writing it down.
“Create positive communication between parent and child before homework time by telling riddles, or funny stories as a practice before beginning. Make it a point to engage in mutual laughter as part of the homework routine.
Create a homework environment of fun. Movement is critical for learning, so encourage frequent movement. Let the child sit on a yoga ball, give them a squishy ball to use when stressed, or a tennis ball bouncing break every so often. A great break is a laughter break. Laughter yoga is a great way to relax and get oxygen flowing to the brain. Just stand take deep breaths and laugh.”
“Set a timer with a reasonable amount of time allowed to complete the work. Let the child know that at the end of this period there will be a surprise. Examples of the surprise would depend on the age of the child, but can include time together reading a joke book. I avoid food as a reward, except on rare occasions, making sure the snack is healthy.”
“Be creative. For younger kids, give the child a flashlight, darken the room and have her spell the words on the ceiling with the flashlight. For older kids, do math homework while riding bikes together.”
“Have fun with assignments. Without telling them, put sticky notes with quotes, jokes or “I love you” notes inside the book or chapter that they need to read. Use a “hunt for the cards” idea for rote math practice like multiplication. Find weird places in your house and place the flash cards there.”
I remember the first time I found the Reading Rainbow show many years ago. It was a way for my kids to get an entertainment and educational break at the same time while learning about new books. LeVar Burton appeared in the show narrating the books with his amazing voice (with kid reviews as well).
This week Reading Rainbow released a new reading adventure for kids ages 3 to 9 with their Reading Rainbow for iPad app. Key features “include 150 interactive books (frequent updates expand the library), recommendations customized to your child, 16 video field trips and more to come, Interactive activities in every book , Reward program to motivate reading, Parent dashboard to share a child’s reading progress “. Great timing especially during summer break when parents are looking for educational and fun entertainment for their tablets while they travel – or just for downtime at home. There is also potential that the app will be coming soon to select Android Devices.
READING RAINBOW IS BACK AND IT’S AN APP!
LeVar Burton Reinvents the Beloved Brand and Inspires Reading for Today’s Digital Kids
LosAngeles, CA, June 20, 2012 – Reading Rainbow host and producer, LeVar Burton, today reimagines the iconic brand as a reading adventure App designed especially for the iPad.
Designed for children 3-9 years of age, the App delivers a library of hundreds of curated books and all new videos presented in a world of adventure and discovery. Traveling to themed islands, such as Animal Kingdom, My Friends, My Family and Genius Academy, kids find a variety of books and videos customized to their age and interests. The App brings together books from numerous acclaimed children’s publishers. Each book comes alive with audio storytelling by celebrity actors, including spoken word Grammy winner Burton himself, and features light animations and related activities to enhance the story.
Similar to the original series, children journey with Burton on exciting real-life adventures. These in-app video field trips connect the stories children read to the world they live in and use a combination of newly produced video as well as classic segments from the TV show.
“I come from a family of teachers, and when I was offered the opportunity to host Reading Rainbow in 1983, I recognized immediately the value in using technology to inspire kids to read,” said Burton. “Reading will never go out of style, but the tools used for learning are changing. I am excited to bring Reading Rainbow back so that parents who watched the show can now share that same feel-good experience with their own children but on a platform that resonates with today’s digital kids.”
The App’s many features include a reward system in which children earn digital stickers to motivate a continued exploration of books and frequent reading. For parents, ReadingRainbow.com offers a companion website and dashboard to get updates regarding time their child spent reading, books read and suggestions for new stories based on the child’s interests. “Family Reading Time” hints provide opportunities to discuss themes and lessons explored in each book.
At launch, the App will include 150 books and 16 video field trips. New content will be added to the service on a regular and frequent schedule expanding the library, themes and topics children can explore.
“We’re excited to offer a safe experience designed just for kids,” notes Asra Rasheed, RRKidz CEO. “We’ve created an easy-to-use subscription service for parents, allowing them to unlock the extensive Reading Rainbow library books and videos without the worry of approving and purchasing each item separately.” The Reading Rainbow App is free for download on the iPad and includes the ability to fully explore the App, the islands, videos and to select one book to read. The subscription is now available for a limited-time introductory price of $9.99 a month or $29.99 for six months at the App Store.
RRKidz has partnered with leading children’s publishers who understand the value of associating their brands with a name respected by millions. Launch partners include Little, Brown Books for YoungReaders, Holiday House, Charlesbridge Publishing, Kan
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Beth Blecherman left her position as a Senior Manager at Deloitte for Family Management then decided to blog as a career 2.0. Her personal blog is TechMamas.com (@TechMama ), a platform to discuss technology, social media and her obsession with consumer electronics.
She is the Chief Technologist of Cool Mom Tech, the intersection between tech, parenting and style.
Beth Blecherman (a.k.a TechMama) has been choosen as one of the Nielson Power Mom 50 influencers, TIME.com 140 Best Twitter Feeds, Working Mother.com List of Most Powerful Moms in Social Media , PCMag twitter top 100 and Forbes Top 100 Website for Women.