Te Grotenhuis to continue in her role as president of Odysseyware

glynlyonGlynlyon Incorporated, a leader in providing educational opportunities and online curriculum for a diverse mix of PreK-12 students, has appointed Beth Te Grotenhuis as chief executive officer of Glynlyon and president of wholly owned subsidiary Odysseyware.

OW logoFormally Glynlyon’s chief operating officer and president, Ms. Te Grotenhuis has nearly three decades of successful leadership experience in the education and software industries. Under her leadership, Odysseyware has become one of the K-12 education industry’s most comprehensive online & blended learning curriculums.

“It’s with great enthusiasm I turn over the CEO reins to my trusted colleague and good friend, Beth Te Grotenhuis,” said Robert Campbell, founder and out-going CEO of Glynlyon.  “I’m very excited about the energy, thoughtfulness and strategic plan Beth has constructed through collaboration and hard work, and I have the utmost confidence that she will continue to build upon Glynlyon’s tradition of product leadership and excellence.”

Ms. Te Grotenhuis recently led the development and execution of the largest new product release in Odysseyware’s history and was instrumental in the development of Odysseyware’s industry-leading online Career Technical Education courses.

“I am honored and excited for the opportunity to lead such a talented and dedicated group of professionals at Glynlyon,” said Ms. Te Grotenhuis.  “Since joining Glynlyon, I have shared the company’s mission to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for children and to be the best education partner in the industry. I am more committed than ever to that vision.  With the continued support and efforts of the entire Glynlyon team, I am confident our best years are ahead of us.”

For more about Glynlyon, please visit them online here.

For more about Odysseyware, please visit them online here.

Reading Platform Listed Among 34 Products Chosen by a Panel of Educators during the Country’s Largest K-12 Ed Tech Trade Show

myON logoTech & Learning, a leading publication for K-12 EdTech leaders, has named myON among the 34 product winners in its inaugural ISTE Best of Show Awards. The online, personalized literacy platform was chosen by an anonymous panel of educators who scoured the exhibit hall floor during the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Atlanta.

Products were submitted by exhibitors at the annual conference, which took place June 29-July 1. The judges rated their impressions on a sliding scale, evaluating areas such as quality and effectiveness, ease of use and creative use of technology, then met to decide on which technologies could have the most impact in the classroom and deserved to be named Best of Show. Winning products ranged from student engagement software and Chromebooks, to charging carts and emergency alert systems. View the whole list of winners at techlearning.com.

“It is a tremendous honor to see myON recognized as one of Tech & Learning’s standout products at ISTE,” said Todd Brekhus, president of myON. “Over the years, our dedicated team has worked tirelessly to deliver the most engaging, personalized literacy platform available to schools. We are proud of the work we do and to be recognized among the many other amazing ed-tech innovations on display at the conference is a testament to myON’s unique ability to impact the manner in which children learn.”

“The most asked question at every ISTE is, ‘Did you see anything cool?’” says Kevin Hogan, Content Director for Tech & Learning Media Group. “We took this question to some of our most trusted advisors and they ran with it. They tromped the show floor to find the latest and greatest for all of our readers who couldn’t be in Atlanta.”

About myON

myON, a business unit of Capstone is a personalized digital literacy platform that creates collaborative learning opportunities. myON expands the classroom for teachers and students by providing unlimited access to the largest collection of more than 7,000 enhanced digital books with multimedia supports, real-time assessments and close reading tools. myON empowers students and teachers with real-time, actionable data—number and type of books opened and read, time spent reading, results of regular benchmark assessments, and more—based on embedded Lexile® assessments that measure student reading growth. With myON, every student experiences the benefits of personalized literacy instruction.

For more information, please visit www.myON.com.  

About NewBay Media

NewBay Media is positioned at the center of the world’s most dynamic industries—Music, AV/Pro Audio, Consumer Electronics/Gaming, Video & Broadcast, and Education. We connect and inform millions of constituents in these industries through our award-winning content, integrated media capabilities, and high-profile network-building and informative events. NewBay proudly serves some of the broadest BtoB professional and music enthusiast communities in the world through over 60 print and digital publications, 100 integrated web and mobile applications, 75 conferences and conventions, custom marketing services and e-commerce capabilities.

Find out more at www.newbaymedia.com.

EdTech media veteran joins leading Public Relations firm for the Education Marketplace 

prpsmalllogoPR with Panache! (PRP), an award winning Minnesota-based PR firm focused on the education marketplace is pleased to announce the addition of EdTech media veteran Bryce Wilson. Bryce ‘s expertise adds to an already well-balanced and experienced team of modern-day storytellers for education.

With a degree in public relations, experience in digital/social-media marketing for education, and a background in media sales in both the higher education and K-12 markets, Bryce’s skill set will be invaluable to the PRP client family. Having spent the last two years working with the team at T.H.E. Journal (1105 Media), Wilson brings with him a unique perspective on visibility in the K-12 education industry.

PRP’s team of modern-day storytellers helps innovators; entrepreneurs and thought leaders working in education build their brand awareness through strong public relations campaigns. PRP works with a broad range of clients that are looking to strategically and effectively communicate their story to the education marketplace.

“PR with Panache! is thrilled to welcome Bryce to our team. It was important for us to find someone with experience in and knowledge of the K-12 marketplace,” said Sue Hanson, founder and managing partner at PR with Panache! “His experience, mainly in education media, strengthens our ability to tell the stories of our clients – be they small or large, new or classic. Bryce’s insider knowledge positions PRP to further deliver on our clients’ desire to gain more exposure, maximize reach, and amplify brand recognition.”

“What attracted me to PR with Panache! was their mission and the team. PRP has built an incredible reputation for themselves within the education space,” said Bryce. “My time at THE Journal will allow me to bring another unique perspective to the PR with Panache! client family. I have always had a passion for education, and very much look forward to the opportunity to improve the academic landscape through multiple mediums and strategies. I’m very excited to join PRP’s storytelling team.”

PRP’s staff has been sharing the stories of clients, in one form or another, for more than 20 years. They have solidified their reputation through their successful tactics uniquely aligned with each of their clients’ needs, personality and imagination.

To learn more about PR with Panache! and how they might tell your story, visit www.prwithpanache.com.

Pioneering EdTech Product Chosen by a Panel of Educators during the Country’s Largest K-12 Ed Tech Trade Show

NERVANIX-logo-NEWTech & Learning, a leading publication for K-12 education technology leaders, last week named Nervanix among 34 product winners in its inaugural ISTE Best of Show Awards. The innovator in “Attention Adaptivity” was chosen by an anonymous panel of educator judges who scoured the exhibit hall floor during the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Atlanta.

Winning products ranged from student engagement software and Chromebooks, to charging carts and emergency alert systems. Over 70 products were submitted by exhibitors at the annual conference, which took place June 29-July 1. The judges rated their impressions on a sliding scale, evaluating areas such as quality and effectiveness, ease of use and creative use of technology, then met to decide on which technologies could have the most impact in the classroom and deserved to be named Best of Show. View the whole list of winners here.

“We are so very honored to be recognized as one of the top products featured at ISTE,” said Adam L. Hall, founder of Nervanix. “Not only is ISTE one of the most widely known conferences in our industry, but Tech & Learning is one of the leading publications as well. This is a testament to our product, our team and our vision. We believe that every student deserves to be taught in a manner that best suits that individual, and Nervanix Clarity is paving the way toward that reality.”

“The most asked question at every ISTE is, ‘Did you see anything cool?’,” says Kevin Hogan, Content Director for Tech & Learning Media Group. “We took this question to some of our most trusted advisors and they ran with it. They tromped the show floor to find the latest and greatest for all of our readers who couldn’t be in Atlanta.”

Please join us in congratulating the winners. They will be featured in the August issue of Tech & Learning

Visit Nervanix.com to learn more about their award-winning product and look for them in the August issue of Tech & Learning where they will be featured.

Source: EdTech Roundup

wa logoIf you’re not familiar with Wildlife Acoustics, they are a Massachusetts-based company that creates hardware and software designed to help students and conservationists monitor and record birds, bats, and a huge variety of other creatures.  I recently had a chance to explore their new Echo Meter Touch, which is designed to search for bats, and I have to say, it has been incredibly fun. 

If you’re a K-12 biology or life science teacher, and you’re looking for an exciting way to start the school year and incorporate technology, I’d definitely recommend checking out Wildlife Acoustics.  Taking your students on a late night bat walk would be an awesome (and pretty unforgettable) way to get them engaged in the curriculum.  The Echo Touch Meter is a little pricey, coming in at $499, but the team has done a great job researching potential grants that educators could use to make the purchase.  

Plus, August/September would be the perfect time to search for bats, right before the head into hibernation for the winter!  With all that being said… let’s check it out!


In addition to trying out the Echo Meter Touch, I also had the chance to examine the Discover Bats curriculum (courtesy of BCI) which can be optionally bundled with the Echo Meter ($24 extra), in case you want some lessons and videos to go with the device.  But, before we get into all that, let’s check out a short introductory video from the Wildlife Acoustics team…

Pretty cool, right?  What struck me most about the program, from the video above and from trying it out, was how incredibly simple it is to use.  For me, that’s one of the most important thing about education technology. Can a teacher, even one who is uncomfortable with tech, pick up the device and use it effectively with little or no training?  

PictureAnd with the Echo Meter Touch the answer is a definite “yes.” In the video you also see the “Auto ID” feature, which automatically identifies bats based on the region you’re in, and the sound they make.  It’s an excellent feature, but it does also run an extra $150.  However, if you purchase the Echo Meter Touch, you also get a $75 dollar iTunes gift card, so that essentially cuts the price in half.  Plus, there are those grants mentioned earlier!

So, to get started searching for bats, it’s really as simple as plugging in the Echo Meter, opening the app, and hitting the green start button.  From that point on, you’ll be ready to go!

And in case you do have trouble figuring anything out, the app comes with an easy to follow guide to help you keep all the features straight (plus, they’ve got an excellent customer support staff who have all been incredibly quick to answer any questions I’ve had).

Picture

As you can see from the first picture above, in addition to monitoring and recording bat sounds, you can also add audio and text notes to any recording you make.  This is a great way to keep track of the details of your bat search and to help you remember any specifics you’d like to record.  Then, when you’re looking at your recordings later, you can easily see which ones have associated recordings (see below).

Plus, as you may have noticed above, you can also examine your recordings in GPS view.  This way, you can see exactly where and when you found your different bat recordings!It’s also worth mentioning the Auto ID feature again.  As I said before, it comes at an extra price, but it makes it incredibly easy to identify bats in your area.  Without the Auto ID installed you would have to manually compare your recording to the sounds of bats typically found in your area, and try to find a match that way (which could also be fun, and a nice additional activity for students).  

Additionally, within the Auto ID menu, you can tap on any bat to get a “species profile” from the BCI website.  This is a great way to quickly find out more information about the bats you find in the field.

Picture

And as far as the app goes, that’s the basics!  It’s incredibly easy to use and an amazing way to experience bats in the field.  In addition to the Echo Meter Touch, you might also consider the Discover Bats curriculum from BCI, which as I mentioned earlier, runs at an additional $24.  The curriculum comes with a 50 minute DVD and a 200 page book, full of information, lesson plans, activities, field trips, discussion prompts, and so on.If you’re not a bat expert, or you’re just looking for some great ideas on how to utilize the Echo Touch Meter, I would absolutely recommend purchasing the curriculum as well.  It’s written at a level that can be easily modified for beginner or advanced students, and it includes a whole range of activities, discussions, and more.

So there you have it!  As I mentioned in the opener, if you’re a life science teacher looking for a unique, tech-based, exciting way to engage your students at the start of the year, this would be a great option.  
Yes, it’s a little pricey, but depending on your school budget, and the grant opportunities, I believe it’d be a possibility for a decent number of teachers.  If you do decide to go for it, here are some general tips to get your bat search off to a great start!

PictureSpring and summer seasons are the best, they’ll be hibernating or migrating during the winter months.  Unless you live in a warm place, then they’ll be there all year round!
If you start your search around dusk, you’ll be able to see the bats coming out to feed.
Try to search within a quarter mile of a body of water (it doesn’t have to be a big one).
And finally, if you’re considering a bulk purchase order for the school, make sure to email Bob at Wildlife Acoustics and he can hook you up with special bulk pricing.  You can also email me if you have any other questions (or post a comment) or the Wildlife Acoustics Support email for any questions you might have!The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated for reviewing this application.

 

Picture

 

Source: Connect Learning Today

Connect-Learning-Today_logoJerry Blumengarten flipped classes long before it was called flipping. A walk with Jerry, @Cybraryman1, at any education conference is a lesson, whether you’re walking with him, or just in ear shot. I recently suggested bringing a card table to an event to just let him sit and talk with anyone, who passed or stopped by. Jerry would do it, too, but he wouldn’t even charge a Lucy from Peanuts fee. I affectionately refer to my friend, Jerry Blumengarten, as the 6th Beatle.

While I can’t verify the 6th Beatle part, yet, Jerry has seen and done most things in education, and he has stories, and web pages to prove it. There are very few like Jerry in this world. So,  even if Jerry Blumengarten didn’t invent flipped or inverted classrooms, he was doing it with students well before we began talking about them, and at a time when it was just called good, creative, experiential teaching. If you don’t know Jerry, you need to discover this education gem. Watch and listen to the joy of a master teacher–@Cybraryman1–in this short Flipped Classroom story video.

Source: Smartblog on Education

textbooksA recent high-school graduate and a credit-recovery teacher from Sweet Home High School in Oregon share their insights on career and technical education.

Shela’s story

From the second you register for high-school classes as an incoming freshman, everything you do will be focused on graduation. You’ll be so caught up in taking the right classes, joining the right extracurricular activities and volunteering at the right places that it can be easy to forget the point: getting ready for life after graduation.

How do you plan for that? I’m no expert, having just graduated a month ago. But I do have an idea of my next steps, so hopefully you can learn from my story.

I’ve always wanted to do something in the medical field, but there are so many opportunities to choose from that it can be a little overwhelming.

When I found out that my school offered online career and technical education courses, I was intrigued. I had never heard of an online career course, but my teachers encouraged me to sign up.

Enrolling in a CTE nursing course was a life-changing decision. I probably took more notes in that class than in all my other classes combined — two notebooks worth on every lesson.

My academic courses hadn’t taught me job skills like this. For one project, I studied the nursing code of ethics to determine how to respond to real-world situations. It was so fun to pretend to be a nurse working in pediatrics, forensics or even as a flight nurse on an airplane.

Imagining myself in those situations helped me determine what I would enjoy doing. While reviewing the midwifery lesson, I had a “light bulb moment.” People have always told me I have a nurturing, compassionate personality, and I love caring for infants. I had found my calling in life.

This spring, I’ll be attending Chemeketa Community College to begin my postsecondary education. Before long, I plan to transfer to a college or university that offers an in-depth nursing program. As a student at Chemeketa, I will have the opportunity to work with doctors and nurses at Oregon Health & Science University, one of the best hospitals in the state. I could not have hoped for a more ideal situation.

So that’s my advice to my fellow students: If your school offers CTE courses, sign up for them. Try as many as you can until you find one that makes you excited to do the homework — that’s when you know it’s a good fit.

Most importantly, don’t wait to start exploring your passions! The next four years will go by faster than you think.

Eric’s story

OW logoWhen it comes to purchasing or expanding curriculum software, a large portion of any administrator’s decision-making process is to consider costs vs. benefits, much like businesses consider return on investment (ROI). However, as educators, our “investment” is in our students and their future, is it not?

Sweet Home High School has 766 students, and we use an online platform for the students in need of credit recovery or expanded support to take additional electives or core classes. Some students use a blended learning approach, while others are learning independently online.

The use of such a platform allows us to offer more courses and options to our students than our resources allow. The benefits to our students overshadow the costs to the district here. The ROI has been amazing.

All of our students are required to have a career learning experience before they graduate. We want them to have hands-on experience with a potential career, as it will really guide their college planning and learning. Our teachers help their students to craft learning and career exploration around said goals.

One such student deemed dedicated enough was Shela Marsh. As you’ve already learned, she expressed interest in nursing and took the corresponding CTE courses that would help prepare her for pursuing a nursing degree. She immediately had a new-found thirst and excitement for learning.

Shela’s story is exactly what we had hoped for when purchasing a CTE curriculum. We knew the CTE courses would help students really understand what is involved in a career that they have interest in. The courses also give them a foundation for getting more training and the necessary degrees and certifications.

Long story short: Students have better direction when they enter college if they experience CTE materials.

Make the investment in your students, helping them passionately invest in their future. I know first-hand that the benefits to the students outweigh the costs to your districts.

Shela Marsh is a recent high-school graduate and Eric Stutzer is a credit-recovery teacher from Sweet Home High School in Oregon. His school uses the Odysseyware platform for career and technical education.

Source: Scholastic Administr@tor

wa logoThe mystery behind bats can have a hold on students akin to them learning about dinosaurs, but with the impact of a species that is available to see and hear today. The Wildlife Acoustics Echo Meter Touch has the power to turn this curiosity into an imaginative science curriculum with the needed hardware, software and classroom activities.

An add-on to an iPhone or iPad, the system listens for the distinctive echolocation sounds that only bats make. The kit comes with a plug-in ultrasonic microphone that is sensitive to sounds between 8- and 125-kilohertz, most of which is beyond the range of human hearing. The best part is that because the bat’s echolocation mechanism uses such high frequency sound waves, you can talk and teach while still getting a good recording.

The microphone’s aluminum case adds about an ounce and 1.8-inches to the profile of the device and is moisture resistant. Inside is a sophisticated microphone and a custom digital signal processor that is able to convert the bat’s high-frequency echolocation pi sounds into something the iPad can use and playback for kids to hear. The set-up is able to capture 256,000 samples per second and is effective as far away as 300-feet.

It works with recent iPads and iPhones, including the 5 series phones and the Mini iPad Retina model; unfortunately, it uses Apple’s new Lightning connector so early iPads and phones are out of reach. Plus, because the microphone requires the system’s Lightning port, you can’t charge the pad and use the echo microphone at the same time. As a result you need to run the pad or phone on battery power while stalking bats.

Iphone-1I used the Echo Meter two ways that are equally educational. I started by leaving a microphone-equipped iPad Mini on a window sill overnight with the window open to listen for the nocturnal creatures. It was able to pick up three or four bats on a good night and showed the results in a very interesting screen that displays a frequency distribution spectrogram of the soundings at the bottom with color indicating intensity and an amplitude graph at the top to show loudness.

Later I set out with several bat specialists into New York’s Central Park at dusk and captured the sounds of dozens of bats with the gear. Without the equipment I would only have been vaguely aware that things were flying back and forth overhead.

The app and hardware work together like hand in glove and the recording software is free. The Echo Meter’s Auto-ID software takes the device to a new level by recognizing the species based on its calls. At $150, it is money well spent, but the hardware and software roughly equals the price of a good iPad; teachers get a $75 gift certificate to Apple’s app store to help pay for the software. There’s no Android version available.

The combo of the two apps lets a teacher combine the visual spectrogram information and sounds with which bat it actually is. Overall, the data presentation is excellent and can help in not only teaching about bats, but it could be the basis of a great general science lessons on everything from habitat and population biology to data and graphing techniques.

Echo meter aThe device is so sensitive that in addition to the base sound sequence, you can sometimes see subtle harmonics of the bat calls. You can playback the sequence, but with a twist that makes it incredibly useful. Rather than high-frequency sounds that nobody will be able to hear, the software slows it down to the human hearing range.  At any time the app lets you add text or voice notes.

In fact, a cool game might be to play the sounds of a few types of bats and then have the class guess which ones they are. The system was able to recognize about one in three bats recorded and identified three different creatures: Eastern Red Bats, Hoary Bats and Small Footed Bats.

The Auto-ID app has a database of 25 North American and 13 European bats and the company plans to update it as time goes on. It’s like having a bat expert on hand, with each entry providing the common and scientific names as well as a nice species profile, its geographic region and what it likes to eat. In other words, it can turn any curious science teacher into a bat expert.

While you’re using the system, the iPad’s GPS receiver can be marking where you are, but only if you’re using an iPad that has a cell network data card. Later, back at the classroom, you can see where each bat was identified.

Screen-recordings-1This meshes well with the kit’s curriculum. Called “Discover Bats,” the 225-page book was put together by Bat Conservation International and can be used as a self-contained course or in bits and pieces based on need and the student age group. In addition to a one-week quick study course, the kit as an excellent general introduction to bats, there are sections about habitats, species identification, echolocation and caves.

Each section has a good reading along with printed references for further study, although no Web site links. On the other hand, the iPad-based species information section has lots of links to BCI and other areas. At the end of each section, there’s a series of classroom activities and assignments along with teacher answers in the back. Finally, the kit includes a DVD that has four bat-based movies. Unfortunately, it doesn’t contain the book’s material so you’ll need to copy the worksheets rather than print them directly.

While the combined cost of the microphone and programs might seem excessive, Wildlife Associates has bulk deals for the microphone alone that brings the cost down to $450 in lots of 100. On the other hand, the curriculum can be used and reused for many years and the microphone can be passed from class to class when it’s time to study bats.

In other words, the Echo Meter Touch ends up being an economical way to teach about one of the marvels of nature.

GRADE: A

Em-touch-webpage-1

Wildlife Associates Echo Meter Touch

$499; $523, with curriculum

+ Great ecology curriculum

+ High frequency microphone and software

+ Record and identify species

+ Listen to recordings

+ Spectrogram presentation

+ GPS location

 

- CD doesn’t contain classroom materials

- Can’t use microphone and AC power at the same time

 

Source: Private School Review

hooda webThe summer “Brain Drain,” also known as the “Summer Slide” is a term commonly used by educators and parents alike to describe the learning loss that takes place for many students during summer months. We polled the experts and found the 7 best ways parents and kids can combat the problem head on.
Brain Drain occurs when the extended break from structured learning and scheduled academic work makes the mind lazy and makes it easier to forget material that has already been learned. It is a major concern for American legislators, educators, and parents alike. We’ve paneled some of the top experts in education to get the best advice for parents to help kids avoid summer Brain Drain. From CEO’s to Technologists to PhD’s and more, we’ve got the expert advice to help kids of all ages stay sharp all year long.
1. “We’re always learning, but what are we learning?”
First thing’s first: take time to get to know your child’s interests. Education Psychologist Dr. Alice Wilder is a huge proponent of tapping into children’s interests to maximize their learning potential. Dr. Alice is a leader in children’s media and research, with senior production roles on landmark franchises and programs like Blue’s Clues, Super Why!, Speakaboos, and Amazon Kids (to name just a few of her many projects and accomplishments).
Dr. Alice says parents should allow their child to be bored at times to uncover their interests. “See what they come up with. Watch them play and get to know what they’re into, so you can support them in their interests. If you’re doing something together, listen to them about what they like and don’t like. The research suggests that how you play as a child helps define the person you become as an adult.”
When asked where she sees the direction of education going, Dr. Alice believes that personalized learning will change the game. “The truth is that we all as learners are unique. Our interests are unique. What captures us is unique. Technology helps us understand individual needs and interests; takes away from the mass schooling culture towards finding ways to inspire or spark each and every child.” Parents need to look at ways to see what sparks their child, and personalize their learning specifically.
2. Read, Read, Read
You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again- make sure your child is reading! Dr. Alice Wilder suggests taking your child out and reading under a tree together, with stories they’re interested in. “Children are more likely to read, if what they’re reading about is of high interest to them. Speakaboos are centered around a library of stories with different interest areas. Children can learn on any medium, as long as there is the connection to ‘text’.”
Research consistently shows that children who are not reading and practicing the skills they learned during the year will lose many of the skills and information gained during the school year. This is why Tracy Zampaglione, Public Relations Administrator for the Orange County Library System, encourages parents to utilize their public libraries and let kids participate in at least one summer reading program. “Virtually all libraries offer some sort of such program, and it’s a free, fun way to keep learning while school is out of session. Many programs even include contests and other incentives to keep children reading.”
The library can be a solid alternative to forced assignments, says Brian Stewart, President of BWS Education Consulting, and author of the upcoming Barron’s ACT Guide. “One of the most common complaints kids have about homework assignments, especially those given over holiday breaks, is that they seem to be totally pointless and do not seem to have any bearing on their education now or in the future. It can be hard to see how three chapters of math homework over the summer has any bearing on future success, so an important thing for parents to remember is that they need to help their kids see how the things they are learning impacts them now and in the future.” Brian adds, “rather than forcing students to read certain books, take them to the library or a bookstore and allow them to choose books they would like to read for fun.”
3. Join a Summer Camp
Another easy way to make the summer both fun and intellectually productive is to sign kids up for summer camp. Although in many locations across the U.S. it may be too late to hop on a full session for summer 2014, there is still plenty time to enjoy half of the season or more. April Whitlock, CEO of the Fundanoodle learning system, says a child’s mind can benefit from camp experience that is designed to enrich the brain. “Most children have already signed up for some sort of camp this summer involving sports, dance, or exploring other new skills. But there are many great camps that will not only provide a fun way to keep your children busy for a week but keep their minds busy as well. Fundanoodle offers two fun and interactive camps in early August to really get back in school mode.”
Diana Lebeaux, Curriculum Manager at The Boys’ Club of New York, says well-planned activities at camp can engage and enrich the mind. “At The Boys’ Club of New York (BCNY), explicit academic activities like early literacy and STEM are paired with creative problem-solving competitions, art clubs, and rigorous physical activity in the summer, ensuring that our members are not only keeping their skills sharp, but also gaining a much-needed supplement to the more limiting, test-oriented school experience.”
4. Remember: Technology is Not Evil
An important part of getting kids motivated to learn and stay active during the summer is to take advantage of the platforms and media they are already using on a day to day basis. There are many innovative mobile apps and digital programs that can help kids learn from the comfort of their computer, iPhone, or iPad. These apps allow kids to explore areas of interest and learn new things in an interactive, engaging way. Andrew Cohen, Founder and CEO of Brainscape, knows the value of fun learning and has put this concept to work with the Brainscape learning app. “It’s a study tool, not a game, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Kids don’t have to have their nose buried in a textbook to learn, there are opportunities all around us. You can disguise the learning process by using a hands-on activity your kids are already eager to take part in.”
“We see the do-it-yourself aspect of Brainscape really come into play when our users are trying to combat the summer slide with their kids. It’s another way to get kids more eager to learn during the summer – teach them something they actually want to learn about. We’ve seen users create things like dinosaur flashcards or time-telling cards to use with their kids. The subject possibilities are endless and we’ve seen some users create some really interesting content. It’s a great way for parents to spend time with their children in a way that keeps the kids entertained while still stimulating their brain.”
Michael Edlavitch, CEO of Hooda Math, echoes these sentiments. The key to getting kids to learn is getting them to have fun! “Kids can lose a lot of the progress they made during the school year if they’re not keeping their minds active over the summer, but who wants to sit around doing boring math worksheets or flash cards? Our games are so fun that most students don’t even realize they’re learning!” If you can find a way to make learning into a game, whether it’s through a game like Hooda Math, a mobile app, or a family game, your kids will be more open to learning and will have a more productive summer too!
So what works better, traditional books or digital media? Dr. Alice Wilder recommends a mix of both types. “Hardcover books are great because you use your own imagination to see. Others can be animated by digital media.  It doesn’t matter if you’re reading a book or participating in digital media. The trick is to create a connection.” Dr. Alice believes digital media can excite and inspire children to want to learn more, and “that’s what the beauty of digital really is. Spark their desire, imagination, and curiosity. This creates the depth of learning.”
5. Let Kids Explore
Exploration may just be the key to keeping a child’s mind sharp, says Ellen Robinson, Program Director of Real School Gardens. “Let kids explore outdoors to avoid brain drain. Let them grow their own veggies to watch over time – sunflowers would also work well because they grow so quickly (use the Mammoth variety for the most spectacular results). Try capturing bugs and count their legs/body parts to determine whether or not they’re a “true” insect (3 body parts, 6 legs, and a pair of antennae).”
Logan LeCompte, Educator at Real School Gardens who also goes by the name “LeCompost”, agrees that Mother Nature is a perfect environment for learning. “Encourage kids to keep a summer reading log or a summer nature journal to write all of their observations during nature walks. There are several yard projects and problem solving that happens naturally when kids are outside. Find a problem in your landscape, and encourage the child to research solutions and then actually fix it and do it. For example, if you have wanted to create a drip irrigation system in your garden, this would be a fantastic parent/child project to teach about conservation, the water cycle, and plant needs.”
Brian Stewart of BWS Education Consulting recommends letting kids explore with educational trips. “Allow them to plan a family field trip to a nearby historical or scientific site.” Older kids can use the summer to learn about careers. “Find a professional in the area who would be willing to let them job shadow for a day so they can see the connections between school learning and real world applications.”
6. Promote Language and Listening
If you have a young child, learning a second language may be a great way to keep their brain sharp during the summer months. “One of the best things parents can do for their kids this summer is to start teaching them a second language,” says Julia Pimsleur Levine, founder of Little Pim. “Once kids turn six, their brains become much less receptive to foreign languages — the window on language learning basically starts to close pretty dramatically — so this is the one thing parents need to jumpstart even before kids go to PreK.”
Good listening skills may help as well. William Weil, Co-Founder and CEO of Tales2Go, cites a link between being a good listener and being a good reader. “Effectively, there is a link between listening to fluent words, vocabulary acquisition and retention and proficient reading, which is why the Common Core State Standards elevates listening to a skill equivalent to reading, writing and speaking.  Listening to an audio book adventure on a drive to the beach or during some down time is a great way to spark a child’s imagination and combat the summer learning slide.”
“Another great idea is to have your children…listen to a title or two above grade level.  Audio books allow students to access literature up to two grade levels above their current reading level since listening takes away the burden of having to decode complex words.  When they are later required to decode more complex text, they’ll have an easier time since the words will already be familiar to them… this is a great example of the link between listening, vocabulary and reading proficiency.”
7. Make Fun a Part of the Mix
As alluded to before, it is vitally important to make sure that educational activities are engaging, fun and interesting to children. At the end of the day, they also need time to relax and simply enjoy summer as kids. Jeff Knox, Educational Counselor at PrepMatters knows how much kids look forward to summer break and how important it is for them to have a good time. Neither kids nor parents have to totally surrender their summer plans, according to Jeff. “Instead, students should focus on balance: go to the beach; play sports; take naps – just be sure to mix in some more academically inclined activities, too. Camps, summer programs, volunteering – your options are plentiful; the key is to find something that engages your interests as well as your brain cells. This way you can enjoy your summer while still staying mentally limber for the return of school in the fall.”
Andrew Cohen of Brainscape believes gamification can inject fun into your child’s learning. “We see this being utilized a lot now on mobile apps and websites to get people to complete things faster or more accurately, but the same strategy can easily be applied in everyday life.”
Conclusion
Ultimately, it’s up to parents to bring the right opportunities to life for children, whether they are just starting pre-school or are nearly finished with high school. If nothing else, let them dive into something totally new and give it a try.
Diana Lebeaux of The Boys’ Club of New York dreams of a world where all parents and kids take advantage of these opportunities. “The question is not how kids can learn in the summer – it’s how so many kids don’t. Anything can be a learning opportunity and whether it’s a parent, a summer program, summer school or a babysitter taking the kids to the park, it’s important that these opportunities are maximized.”

Source: SmartBlog on Education

WonderGroveLearnLogo_Stacked_CMYKTake a moment to join us in a snapshot of a classroom we recently observed:

Students are hard at work designing a travel brochure as a part of their study of Ireland. They need to think about how much it will cost by air or by sea and develop a good rationale for why one way is preferable to another. They will also be including a recommended sightseeing schedule, determining why one schedule would be preferable to another.

These students have to analyze, evaluate, make decisions and communicate to an audience. As a group, they must work through this using the best of each student’s contributions to create their product. They will need to persist, overcome challenges, strive for accuracy, think flexibly and think interdependently.

We like to call these mental qualities “Habits of Mind” — attitudes or dispositions that are necessary for thoughtful work. Without realizing it, people rely on these behaviors when they encounter problems that are difficult to solve.

Habits of Mind

1. Persisting: Stick to it! Persevering in task through to completion; remaining focused. 2. Managing impulsivity: Take your Time!Thinking before acting; remaining calm, thoughtful and deliberative.
3. Listening with understanding and empathy: Understand Others! Devoting mental energy to another person’s thoughts and ideas; holding in abeyance one’s own thoughts in order to perceive another’s point of view and emotions 4. Thinking flexibly: Look at it Another Way!Being able to change perspectives, generate alternatives and consider options.
5. Thinking about your Thinking(Metacognition)Know your knowing! Being aware of one’s own thoughts, strategies, feelings and actions and their effects on others. 6Striving for accuracy and precision: Check it again! A desire for exactness, fidelity and craftsmanship.
7. Questioning and problem posing: How do you know? Having a questioning attitude; knowing what data are needed and developing questioning strategies. 8. Applying past knowledge to novel situationsUse what you Learn! Accessing prior knowledge; transferring knowledge beyond the situation in which it was learned.
9. Thinking and communicating with clarity and Precision: Be clear! Striving for accurate communication in both written and oral form; avoiding over-generalizations, distortions and deletions.
10. Gathering data through all senses: Use your natural pathways! Gathering data through all the sensory pathways–gustatory, olfactory, tactile, kinesthetic, auditory and visual.
11. Creating, imagining, and innovating Try a different way! Generating new and novel ideas, fluency and originality. 12Responding with Wonderment and awe:Have fun figuring it out! Finding the world awesome, mysterious and being intrigued with phenomena and beauty.
13. Taking Responsible Risks: Venture out!Being adventuresome; living on the edge of one’s competence. 14. Finding humor: Laugh a little! Finding the whimsical, incongruous and unexpected. Being able to laugh at oneself.
15. Thinking interdependently: Work together!Being able to work and learn from others in reciprocal situations. 16. Remaining open to continuous learning:Learn from experiences! Having humility and pride when admitting we don’t know; resisting complacency.

Managing your impulsivity is a habit of mind that can take years to develop. For example, we might see a young student starting to work on the computer and becoming so impatient with the time it takes for a program to boot up that he clicks two or three times with frustration. All of a sudden, the computer freezes from too many demands, and then multiple screens appear at the same time. In that situation, we learn to manage our impulsivity, allowing ourselves the time to think before we act. Recent research indicates that the self-control of preschool students predicts their life satisfaction, crime record, income level, physical health and parenting skills. In this fast-moving 21st century environment, students need to learn to think before they act.

The 16 Habits of Mind are drawn from a modern view of intelligence that casts off traditional abilities-centered theories and replaces them with a growth mindset for remaining open to continuous learning, another important habit. These habits are often called soft skills or non-cognitive skills. In fact, these skills are among the most difficult to develop because they require a great deal of consciousness. Ultimately, they become an internal compass that helps us answer the question, “What is the most ‘thought-full’ thing that I can do right now?”

It may take many years for the Habits of Mind to become internalized. For most, it is a lifetime endeavor. To strengthen the habits over time so they become natural for children, teachers and parents might do the following:

  1. Build awareness. Students must have a conceptual understanding of the meaning of each of the habits. Can they describe what it looks like, sounds like and feels like? Can they give some examples and non-examples?
  2. Develop skills and strategies. Can students execute the Habits of Mind with confidence, grace and style?
  3. Call attention to situational alertness. Are students alert to diverse situations in which the habits are appropriate (or inappropriate)?
  4. Foster autonomy. Do they listen autonomously — without prompting or being reminded by others?
  5. Explore benefits and values. Do students realize the benefits and values of choosing to use each of the Habits of Mind?
  6. Encourage self-monitoring. Do the students reflect on their skillfulness? Do they advocate for the use of the Habits of Mind when they see that other individuals and groups need them?
  7. Reflect on mindfulness. Are the habits used consciously, proactively and intentionally?

In our experience, individuals who have adopted Habits of Mind as a way of being “thought-full” about life are more aware of and focused on the skills that impact their success. Similarly, schools that adopt Habits of Mind as a part of their vision have seen a tremendous change in the culture of the school. The school has become a learning community in which all members, parents, community, teachers and students are acting with thought. One school at a time, one district at a time, one state at a time, one nation at a time, we can create a more “thought-full” way to solve our 21st century problems.

Arthur Costa is professor emeritus at California State University, Sacramento. He is a co-founder and director of the Institute for Habits of Mind. Bena Kallick is an educational consultant based in Westport, Conn. He is also a co-founder and director of the Institute for Habits of Mind. Morton Sherman is the superintendent in residence for the American Association of School Administrators (AASA). He is also the executive director of the Institute for Habits of Mind. Through a partnership with WonderGroveLearn, all three authors are co-creators of 16 instructional animations to illustrate the habits