57 posts categorized "Learning Opportunities"

April 28, 2010

Low Tech Fun: Iron Chef - Boys Edition

After watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and my husband watching Iron Chef of America we decided that cooking healthy food and food competition should be a family event. Luckily my husband is not only a successful businessman but also enjoys cooking himself (listen up dads - be a role model to your boys!). I am proud to say that my husband is a better cook then I am, even though we make a great cooking team. Putting kids on the road to eating healthy also means that they not only experience different foods but also learn how to cook so they don't get to college and resort to eating pizza every day.

Yesterday we had the joy of doing our first Iron Chef competition for dinnertime fun. I had my boys write down what ingredients they wanted and then I bought them. Our main ingredient was "oranges" so I had fun buying fresh oranges, orange jelly, mandarin oranges, orange juice and even blood orange sherbet. To my surprise (high marks for healthy) - Team Orange Knife which was made up of my 11 year son and his 7year old brother decided to make a fruit salad, drink and dessert. Team Orange Rocket which was made up of my other 7 year old twin son and his wonderful dad decided to make a salad with lots of moms favorite ingredients (tomatoes, walnuts, feta, cucumbers, oranges, peppers, apples).

All the boys went to work preparing their dishes and I got to judge the final result. I took pictures as all the boys prepared the dishes. They all were winners in my eyes - we decided to do this event as a weekly fun dinnertime activity.

TEAM ORANGE KNIFE: Fruit Salad, Orange & Bubbly water drink and melted Fudge Popsicle with orange for desert.


TEAM ORANGE ROCKET: Orange Feta/Vegetable/Walnut Salad and Bubbly Water Drink with Blood Orange Sherbet.


March 01, 2010

What? Twitter Is Good For Classroom Use?

I have personally benefited from taking part in "live" conversations on Twitter. I view news trends on Twitter. I connect with other social media types on Twitter. I get my comic relief on Twitter. On my recent trip to Paris with the Traveling Geeks, I extended that conversation globally while I used Twitter to liveblog my trip.

But I always imagined that if I was a student, use of Twitter in the classroom would be discouraged. At the same time, I see that students are embracing social media at a frantic pace so there is a disconnect if schools don't utilize social media for learning.

Tonight I read an article on Mashable titled "How Twitter in the Classroom is Boosting Student Engagement". The article was written by Greg Ferenstein who, among other things,designs college curricula. He wrote "Fortunately, educators (including myself) have found that Twitter is an effective way to broaden participation in lecture". The post discussed that Twitter friendly classrooms could have increased participation and extend the conversation outside of the classroom. Greg Ferenstein concluded "For schools hit hard by the recession, Twitter is an inexpensive solution to the growing problem of increasing class sizes. It is a tried-and-true platform to let conversations flourish".

I have already seen how my 11 year old uses texting to communicate with his friends and has extended their conversations outside of playdates. While there is a dangerous side to social media use by kids, which includes cyberbullying and inappropriate use of online communications, I agree that the there is great potential to increase channels of communication.

To prepare for increased use of social media by students, I hope that schools are spending time creating social media policies and making sure teachers and students get the appropriate training. Then just having some fun. I know I am..

January 20, 2010

My Kids Are Awake With Access to Tech, But Pretend Play Is Still King

Kids-technologyThis morning I opened up the New York Times and read the article by Tamar Lewin called "If Your Kids Are Awake, They're Probably Online". Later I saw the New York Times article had made it to Techmeme.

While reading the article I took a moment to look at what my kids were doing. Were my kids using any technology this morning?

So I decided to review the morning's activities: After my 10 year old and twin 6 year old boyBoys-pillow-fights ate breakfast, they went into our living room (affectionately called the "bouncy room" because sofa pillows are used for forts and jumping) for some pretend play before school. They had rolled up paper for swords and were pretending to fend off the "bad guys". A few nerf guns sneaked their way in, but had no bullets so they ended up being a prop as well. When it is was time to leave, my boys put on their little yellow rain boots and rain jackets and went to school.

All of this "pretend play" happened in our house that is full of technology. We have multiple laptops including my 10 year old that has his own laptop, iPod and Nintendo DSi. My twin 6 year olds have Leapfrog moblie gaming units and their older brother's hand me down Nintendo DS's. The TV in our family room may be 10 years old, but it still works great. We have Direct TV DVR's and a Nintendo Wii. We have multiple Nintendo racing, sports and Mario Bros Wii games with lots of accessories and just recently purchased the Tony Hawk Thride game and accessory board. My 10 year old has a simple cell phone that is "Pay as you Go" with no data plan but ample calling and texting. His friends have the Sony Playstation and they enjoy playing Lego Star Wars. We only have one TV in our family room, but multiple computer screens in our house.

The New York Times article "If Your Kids Are Awake, They're Probably Online" brought up some very interesting discussion points about how much time kids are spending on technology each day:

Continue reading "My Kids Are Awake With Access to Tech, But Pretend Play Is Still King" »

January 14, 2010

Took A Study Break, But Now I am Back....

Whenever I stop posting for awhile it is usually either because I am away at a conference (and busy covering it live via Twitter) or taking a study break. The holidays came about at the same time a fabulous opportunity to join the Traveling Geeks trip to Paris. So I went to Paris. I mean come on, Paris and hanging with a top notch group of Geeks all in one trip?

I still gathered information for a holiday tech guide but decided to hold off posting for some very good reasons. While reviewing the vast amount of technology options open to families I realized there was lots of terminology and features that I needed to better understand before I shared my favorites with anyone. I wondered what is the difference between an ultra-portable and thin & light PC. What are the advantages of a SSD (solid state drive) versus a regular hard drive? How do I choose a processor when choosing a computer? What do I need to know about video graphics cards? What other features are most relevant when choosing a computer? What other technology is not only new but relevant/useful for families versus a luxury item?

I realize many don't spend time pondering those questions, but I did. To my families dismay I spent every free moment when I was not playing with my kids during winter break scouring the web for buying guides, information, buying relevant tech magazines, reading about the new technology coming out and understanding better the technology that is already here.

With over 40 pages of data gathered, I decided to put it all together in one big cheat sheet. I realized after CES that my research only covered the best of 2009 - so some of it is already out of date. But I also realized that while many of the technology discussed at CES is available now - there is also an equal amount that has not launched yet.

To make things even more complicated, some of the technologies coming out will take some time to be adopted in the mainstream by families. An example of that is 3D Televisions. While I think anyone buying a new TV should think about buying one that has the "option" to run programs/movies that are 3D compatible (many new 3D TV's have controls that turn the 3D on or off) - I don't think consumers that were not shopping for a new TV will do so because of 3D. Not yet of course...

I decided to not look for any sponsors for this CES so I could just set my own schedule to take it all in (my trip was paid for all by TechMama herself). Starting next week I will post with what I learned about technology features from my obsessive study break and the exciting, bizarre, cool, relevant and downright "so thankful they finally invented that" technology from CES.

September 07, 2009

Web Management Tools For Students, Teachers and Parents

It is that time of year when I ponder what is the best system to manage my family's schedule and as a room parent - how to manage the class information. So I took my quest online. Here is what I found so far....

Mashable had some great posts on web tools for students and teachers, so I started by reading those posts.


Mashable - Back to School: 15 Essential Web Tools for Students 

(Evernote, Notely, Grademate, Backpack, StudRails, Diigo, Delicious, Mindmeister, Google Docs, Etherpad, SlideRocket, Wikidot, Citeme, EasyBib and Zotero) CLICK here to read the student post.


Mashable - Back to School: 10 Terrific Web Apps for Teachers

(SchoolRack, SchoolTool, Curriki, Edmodo, Shmoop, Footnote, ClassMarker, Bookgoo, DOC cop and TeacherTube) CLICK HERE to read the Teacher post.

I know teachers who create their class sites using Dreamweaver, blogs or TeacherWeb.


Here are some web tools for parents who have kids in elementary school/highschool. I hope to add more to the list:

1. Google Calender/Docs: Many parents are using Google Calender to manage their calenders and Google Docs to keep shared documents in the "cloud" online.

2. Smartphones - Many parents manage their calenders using their smartphones and corresponding calendering systems. Smartphone calenders can also sync with outlook, iCal and Google Calender - which makes it easy to share info with other family members, use desktop management or online tools.

3. Cozi.com has an online family organizer system that includes online calender, shopping list, todo lists and family journal.

Continue reading "Web Management Tools For Students, Teachers and Parents " »

August 19, 2009

All Things Digital Post Shows: 1. There is No Anonymity Online 2. Why Not To Call Someone "Skank"

The post on All Things Digital this morning titled "On the Internet, Everybody Knows You’re a Name-Caller: Google Unmasks the “Skank” Blogger" is a great example proving there is no anonymity online. The post hit on a very important point that anyone online should heed:

I have given advice to many that ask me about setting up anonymous blog pen names or kids that start social networking. I am not an expert, but have seen lots happen during my time blogging. Here is my advice:

1. Once you go online in any forum - whether it be a social network, blog or community forum - ONLY share NON personal information that you would feel comfortable sharing with the public. I especially tell 13 year olds when they first start social networking - while your new bikini may be cool - you probably don't want to share a picture of yourself in it online for all to see (including older men with questionable interests). While you think it was really cool that you got drunk for your 21st birthday - you don't want your future employer to see drunk pictures of you online while they do a online search on your background. Even if it is a "private" social network with just friends invited in, anyone can copy that picture and post it elsewhere..

2. There is no anonymous. Can I say that again "When you go online - there is no anonymous!". While you can use a pen name for those that want to try to remain under the radar - only share information you don't mind the public knowing.

3. Mind your manners. I feel like a mom saying this - but use the same manners you do in daily life online. That includes calling someone a "Skank"..

July 10, 2009

The Magic Behind PBS Super Why

PK_GIRL_MED_C The PBSKids.org website was the first place my 6 year old twins went on the Internet (and the first URL they memorized). It worked well with my Internet filter because I can add the whole PBS Kids website as approved because it is safe. PBS was also the first channel my kids watched on TV. I was happy that educational shows were available that met the changing needs of my kids. When my Kinder twin boys were in preschool, they enjoyed watching Super Why. My twin boys enjoyed the superhero characters and engaging storyline. I was happy that pre-reading skills were worked into the story in a way that made learning fun. Because they are engaged in Super Why already, it was easier to engage them in the Super Why summer Right On Read-a-thon for summer reading practice.

The Super Why area of the PBS website has a section for parents and teachers with the mission of the site being "the mission of this site is to help kids learn key reading skills, including alphabet, word families, spelling and reading comprehension, through interactive online games, activities and more!"

But what I did not realize is how much thought went into building learning into the stories until I went to a Silicon Valley Moms Group event in June that took me behind the scenes. SUPER WHY Creator and Executive Producer Angela C. Santomero and Lesli Rotenberg, PBS' Senior Vice President of Children's Media spoke to the group about the show. 

The following are my own liveblog notes that I took. I tried to type as fast as possible because it was so interesting, so some of this may be re-phrasing:

Continue reading "The Magic Behind PBS Super Why" »

June 06, 2009

Noise Induced Hearing Loss And Technology Use

This is a guest post by of Dr. Marcella Roper Bothwell, MD, FAAP  of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery about their recent survey. I was contacted by them to particpate in a conference call - and then I asked them to write a guess post about hearing loss and use of technology. Here it is.


If you worry about your kids listening to their iPod at full volume or watching their portable DVD player with headphones while you hear the entire dialogue, you are not alone. A recent survey by the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery found that four in five Americans are concerned about hearing loss due to ear buds and that hearing loss is a top medical concern for parents. And with good reason: Three million children under the age of 18 have some form of hearing loss, and nationwide, more than 10 million Americans suffer from noise-induced hearing loss.

Hearing is the brain’s interpretation of sound or sound pressure from the outside world. Loss of hearing can be divided into two categories: conductive and sensori-neural hearing loss. Sound is ‘conducted’ to the nerve for perception. Any abnormality in the external ear, canal, tympanic membrane, or middle ear bones, or fluid in the middle ear can cause conductive hearing loss. This type of hearing loss can sometimes be reversed.

Continue reading "Noise Induced Hearing Loss And Technology Use" »

May 28, 2009

Using Navy Speak Acronym Widget - Prep for USS Nimitz

I just saw this website Navyformoms.com has a Navy Speak Acronym Widget. The site is not only a great website, but that tool can be useful for anyone. This reminds me of the text acronym website I blogged about in my texting post. It is good to know there are online resources for Navy Moms and for acronyms!

I am heading off to the USS Nimitz blogger trip today. Reviewing the Navy Speak Acronyms, Military Alltop, and the USS Nimitz website were valuable tools to prepare. The good news is that the trip will be the adventure of a lifetime. The challenge will be that there is no Wi-Fi on the trip - so I will be going offline for a couple of days. I will be taking lots of pictures and will be sure to share when I return. For now, here is my post and Guy Kawaski's post from last year to get a taste of the adventure we are in store for!

TechMamas: TechMama Joins The Bloggers Embark To The USS Nimitz
Guy Kawaski (post from last year): 26 Hours at Sea: The Longest Posting in the History of Blogging

Here are some songs I will be singing to prepare: Top Gun And Major-General from Pirates of Penzance (thanks to Andy Sernovitz for the later song recommendation). Jenny "The Bloggess" Lawson and I just talked and decided to give each other emotional support during Navy C-2 Greyhound ride..

May 16, 2009

TechMama Joins The Bloggers Embark To The USS Nimitz

I was thrilled to be invited by Lieutenant Commander Charlie Brown, Public Affairs Director for the Commander - Naval Air Forces - Pacific (COMNAVAIRPAC) to be part of a Blogger Embark aboard the USS Nimitz later this month. We'll be flying to and from the Nimitz on a Navy C-2 Greyhound (twin-turboprop Navy Transport) where we will witness Navy and Marine Corps life at sea.

Here is the list of Blogger Embarkees: Charlene Li , Jennifer Leo, Jenny Lawson, Pamela Slim, Jennifer Van Grove, Jennifer Jones, Guy Kawasaki , Bill ReichertJefferson Wagner a.k.a. Zuma Jay, Robert ScobleAndy Sernovitz, Andrew Nystrom , Dennis Hall, Captain (Mr.) Carroll LeFon, USN (ret.), Chris Pirillo, and I (Beth Blecherman).

Guy Kawasaki, Dennis Hall, Bill Reichert Bloggers' Embark meeting 10-08-08Guy Kawasaki is the lead Blogger for our first visit, his second. He had the opportunity to visit the USS John C. Stennis last year. His post, " 26 Hours at Sea: The Longest Posting in the History of Blogging", describes his adventure. The picture on the left is at Garage Ventures when the idea for this Blogger's Embark was hatched (Guy Kawasaki on left, pictured with Dennis Hall and Bill Reichert). 

F-18 Hornets pitch-out

Dennis Hall provided some information on what we will see: "Here is a shot of a scene you will see typically during your embark. It shows F-18 Hornet fighter jets arriving for landings or 'traps' in formation and individually pitching out for their descent to the flightdeck. The Navy Blue Angels fly F-18s."

Here is a subset of the group that could make an early evening meetup in Silicon Valley to discuss the Embark:

Bloggers' Embark icebreaker - Dennis Hall, Beth Blecherman, Jennifer Jones, Robert Scoble, Charlene Li 

Pictured left to right: Dennis Hall, Beth Blecherman, Jennifer Jones, Robert Scoble, Charlene Li

Continue reading "TechMama Joins The Bloggers Embark To The USS Nimitz " »



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