Monthly Archives: June 2015

School's Out

School’s out – reflections on the lessons learned

Thinking back, what did you learn?

As the school year finishes up, we’re tempted to just hit the door and run as fast as we can. Teachers do this, kids do it, and parents do it as well. Now that every year ends with relentless test preparation followed by hours upon hours of filling in bubble sheets, the end of the school year is much more about muscling through something difficult than it is about summing up and reflecting upon learning.

But learning isn’t about tests.

  • I hope you learned to be curious.
  • I hope you learned to stand up for yourself, but also for others.
  • I hope you learned to say yes to opportunity, and no to things that hurt you.
  • I hope you learned that you can do it.
  • I hope you learned that the world is wide, and wild, and wonderful.
  • I hope you learned to love learning.
  • Above all, this school year I hope you learned to be kind.

Reflecting on Learning

You can help your kids to discover what they’ve learned this school year simply through journaling. This is something that you can participate in as well – this is a perfect time for you to reflect on the year too. By participating with your child in the activity, it becomes a shared experience rather than a task for them to complete.

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This activity doesn’t have to be complex. All you need is some paper and something to write with. You might iike to get a journal where you can continue to have your child and you write reflections on learning and life, or you can just do it on loose leaf if that’s what you’ve got. Form doesn’t matter – content does.

Once you’ve each written your reflections, share them with each other and get the conversation started about what learning is and how it affects your lives. This activity instills not only a love of learning, but also a deep sense of self and the importance of recognizing personal growth. And these prompts can be easily amended at the end of summer to take some time to reflect before the coming school year.

Here are some prompts to get you started.

For Kids:

  • What’s a moment that surprised you this year?
  • What accomplishment are you most proud of?
  • What has changed about you this year?
  • What could you have done better?
  • What’s a subject that you want to learn more about?
  • What’s a subject that you don’t want to learn more about?
  • What’s a moment when a lesson “clicked” in your head?
  • What’s the most important thing that you learned outside of the classroom?

For Parents:

  • What’s a moment that surprised you this year?
  • What of your child’s accomplishments are you most proud of?
  • What do you see that has changed about your child this year?
  • What could you have done better?
  • What’s a moment when a lesson “clicked” in your head?
  • What’s subject should your child investigate more deeply?
  • What’s something that you saw “click” with your child?
  • What’s the most important area that you child grew in outside of the classroom?
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Don’t just play video games… Make them

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Video games. They’re controversial, and they’re also something that kids love.

Psychologist Dr. Isabela Granic has long studied video game use in children and adolescents, and has come to the conclusion that interacting in a video game world can have real world benefits (Bowen 2014). According to Granic, both complex strategic games (Legend of Zelda) as well as simpler problem solving games (Angry Birds) can improve cognitive function. There are also emotional benefits to playing video games says Granic, like improved mood, resilience skills, and increased relaxation.

Kids can take video games to the next level by learning how video games work and designing their own, turning this addictive pass-time into a 21st century skill. Here are five super awesome video game courses we have listed in Thrively that will help your child to get excited about engineering their own digital world.

1. Game Design 1 / Youth Digital

Youth Digital offers kids a unique experience in video game design. With programs for kids as young as age 8, Youth Digital offers well supported, easy to use video game design courses for kids. The Game Design 1 course teaches kids to design their own video game completely – from start to finish. Kids can then burn their work onto a CD to share with their friends.

2. Getting Started with Minecraft/Tech Rocket

Tech Rocket’s courses are extremely thorough and easy for kids to access. Kids can work through prerequisites in Java in order to prepare them for the world of Minecraft, then learn how to customize their virtual world with ease and fun. This is a key elements course, perfect for kids who are new to Minecraft but ready to jump in.

3. Hour of Code

Hour of Code is one of the biggest and most comprehensive kids coding sites out there. You’ll find just too many cool games for your kids to build and program, with all kinds of amazing characters from Frozen to Angry Birds. Let your child explore their interests here.

4. Tynker

This site lets your child program everything from apps to drones. Kids love this site and find that they’re able to do things that they never though possible in the world video games. It’s interactive approach is also perfect for kids who aren’t sure of themselves when it comes to coding.

5. Codeacademy

Codecademy can help you learn to code for free! They’ve got over 24 million users teaching and learning how to code any type of computer language, from HTML to Python. Their mission is to get more computer science knowledge into the hands of young people. And of course, being free doesn’t hurt either :P

References

Bowen, Lisa. (February 2014). Video game play may provide learning, health, social benefits, review finds. Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/02/video-game.aspx

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AutumKRobinson

Autumn Robinson is a writer, teacher, martial artist and mom who’s pursuing her PhD in Clinical Psychology. Autumn loves her life in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina with her three young boys and loving husband. She is also an advocate for children, who believes that all kids deserve to live out their passion. 

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4 Not-boring ways to prevent summer slide

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The first few weeks of June bring the last few weeks of school and the tantalizing lazy days of childhood spent in expectation-less freedom. While teachers and students are very much ready to let go of the rigors of the school year, especially after testing, parents are already thinking about how to keep their children from losing all of that hard earned growth during the summer. Research has shown us that the summer slide is a real problem (U.S. Department of Education) but that it doesn’t have to be, and that kids don’t have to spend the summer hitting the books to prevent it.

One of the great things about summer is the freedom to learn through experience, rather than just through academic engagement. In that light, here are 4 beautiful ways to have your kids PLAY their way through the summer, while still engaging those big brains and preventing the summer slide.

  1. Financial Engagement – what’s the biggest reason your kids will need to know math in the real world? Money. Your kids can learn to manage finances and keep honing those mathematics skills through incredible apps like Saving Spree.
  2. Get Out – Speaking of STEM, how to you get your kids to keep engaging in science without a lab? The answer is to get them outside into the BIG science lab! A bird, bug, or plant identification book from the library is a perfect way to help kids explore their own environment. Thrively’s Sparks page can help you find all kinds of fun ways to get outdoors and to keep exploring science.
  3. Geometry of Fabric – You might not think about all of the math that goes into sewing, but when you pause for a moment you realize that it’s all figures. Sewing involves measurement, shapes, proportions, scale, and arithmetic. Try DIY camps to find an at-home fashion “camp” that your kids can enjoy for just $10.
  4. Turn the Page – the most essential way for your child to keep the summer sun from draining all of that knowledge is to keep reading. It genuinely doesn’t matter what their reading, not even in the slightest, just that they’re engaging with text. Summer is the time for kids to learn that reading can fuel their interests, no matter what they are. From martial arts to video games to fashion. There are some fantastic apps out there like Knowonder that offer engaging content that kids can read for fun all summer long.

Summer is a time for freedom, but it’s the perfect time to reinforce lifelong learning. Life doesn’t happen in a classroom, but education does happen everywhere – even under the warm summer sun.

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Pack it in this summer – opportunities for students

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Summer is a time of endless possibilities! But, it’s easy to squander this time away and before you know it, “back to school” is everywhere. Take time to play and relax this summer, but also take advantage of this uninterrupted time to do or learn something new.
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We’ve found that you can easily design a summer that is full of valuable experiences, but is also FUN.
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Our friends at GoEnnounce have some ideas for you to make the most of this summer. And even if you don’t get that coveted internship or part-time job, there are still tons of little things you can do to help your community, your resume, and have fun in the process.
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Read GoEnnounce’s full list of summer ideas by clicking here.

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What is GoEnnounce?
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GoEnnounce.com gives students a voice about their education and empowers access to increased opportunities. It’s a free platform for students to share their educational stories or fundraise with the network who can help them reach their goals.
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On GoEnnounce students e-nnounce & track achievements and projects to get the encouragement and financial help they need to succeed. All students’ school and extracurricular updates are saved in a social e-portfolio environment. Learn about a $500 monthly scholarship for students they offer here.