Monday, December 22, 2014

Financial Literacy, The Economy, And Holiday Shopping

Source: NBC News
We received a lot of questions from our students about "Black Friday" this fall. It seems the play up to the annual start of the holiday shopping frenzy grows earlier with each passing year. If your students are like ours, many did not understand the hype around this day, how it affects the economy, or for that matter, why it is so important to the bottom line of so many companies.

Source: NBC News
Many students are unfamiliar with the term  “being in the red,” so the concept of “Black Friday” makes little sense when it comes to the overall economy. The video from NBC entitled “How Badly Would the Economy Suffer If Holidays Were Cancelled?” illustrates just how much the holiday shopping season has an impact on the economy even though it is a small part of the total.

Sometimes we need to stop and explain the underlying lingo to help students realize the financial implications. It’s more than just shopping for gifts. It may be a small portion of the larger economy, but many people depend on the holiday shopping season to help make ends meet. The issue is not whether it is too much hype, but more importantly, how it affects others. Either way, we cannot assume our learners understand the economic impact based on the colors of red and black unless we educate them.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Show And Tell: Visual Vs. Linear

Source: ASIDE, 2014

If a picture is worth a thousand words, why is it that the majority of work kids do in school is buried in text? We firmly believe that transferring linear text into a visual format deepens the understanding and provides a context for the content. By engaging learners in the design process, they become skilled at navigating visual details to focus on the essential information. As part of a project-based learning unit on immigration, the students created a graphic presentation about the traditions brought to the United States from a culture group they were studying.

Source: ASIDE, 2014
To reinforce the importance of designing information, we once again had the students compare the finished visual design with their research notes.

The benefits of looking at linear vs. visual communication provide the perfect opportunity to see why the design matters. It reinforces one of our mantras, “presentation is everything,” and it neatly connects to our discussions about branding and media literacy.

Our students live in a world of Instagram, Snapchat, and emojis; it makes sense, therefore, to use the tools at their fingertips for visual communication. Providing them with opportunities to use design elements in the classroom opens up other venues for creating visual information, from historical content to statistical analysis.

Source: ASIDE, 2014
Learning to look for the right visuals trains them how to streamline the information. It builds visual literacy. Selection of text, images, and design transforms linear content into a more effective presentation. They need to make deliberate choices to relay a point of view.

While there may not be more visual learners today, there would not be an explosion of infographics, explainer videos, and interactive graphics if people were not attracted to this type of communication. Our students are no different. They learn by seeing.

Developing opportunities for students to use information they gather in conjunction with the principles and elements of design makes it easier to access and assimilate content.

Source: ASIDE, 2014
It is no surprise that using visuals with students helps them convey relationships between information, concepts, and ideas. Today, there are a host of tools available, with apps such as Canva, Easelly, and Adobe Voice, along with other web-based applications.

In our 1:1 program, we found that the apps make it easier than ever for students to apply their own visual thinking to create infographics and motion graphics about the content they are learning.

For other resources, please see:

Friday, December 12, 2014

'Tis The Season – We Give Books

Source: We Give Books

It’s that time of year, when the world… can give back. We Give Books is the perfect place to promote literacy in your own classroom and at the same time help provide reading opportunities to children everywhere. With close to 300 award-winning books in its digital library, We Give Books will donate two real books to charities working in communities around the world for every digital book you read from its collection.

Source: We Give Books

We all know that kids get distracted at this time of year; so in the spirit of giving, start a children’s holiday read-a-thon. Helping others builds empathy for children who are less fortunate and inspires them learn a powerful lesson about giving back. Book selection is by age, genre, or author, and there are a host of other educational resources for teachers, including extension activities, mentoring, craft projects, and reading guides. It's worth checking out the "Children's Literature Review Blogging Project" for older students.

Join the We Give Books “Season’s Readings” campaign to double the impact of this program. Help them read 5,000 books online so that they can give 10,000 books to children in need. We Give Books is also affiliated with First Book, an organization that provides access to new books for children in need. To date, First Book has donated 120 million new books in the United States and Canada.

Source: We Give Books
Let’s help give the gift of reading by getting our students involved in helping other kids.

’Tis the season to be reading!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Beyond Diversity - We Need Inclusion

Source: UNiTE to End Violence Against Women

We watch the news everyday only to hear the constant reporting about the violence against women on college campuses, in the military, from athletes, and by celebrities. It’s hard to believe that well into the twenty-first century this issue continues to plague our nation at such an alarming rate. Although we like to think of our society as more democratic toward the rights of women, we are not without fault. Orange Your Neighborhood (@SayNo_UNiTE) (#Orangeurworld) wants to raise awareness about this issue, not only in its 16-day campaign from November 25 to December 10, Human Rights Day, but also to make every 25th of the month "Orange Day."

Source: UNiTE Brochure
Violence, victimization, and stereotypes about women fail to make it into daily classroom discussions any more than open conversations about race. Violence against women is a global issue, and according to UN Women, it is a global pandemic.

Yet our education system, which is driven by pushing through curricula for high-stakes test results, often fails to shift, stop, and talk about current events and global issues. Learners need a forum to engage with difficult topics in a meaningful way, and we need to facilitate and not shy away from them. Global issues are not an elective.

It is not enough to say that we are a diverse nation, believe in civil rights, and promote equality for women. Title IX was passed 35 years ago, and the civil rights movement is over 50. Are we really that far ahead when we witness the daily barrage in the news? Education needs to go beyond the safe conversations under the guise of diversity. It’s not just equal pay for equal work, or the celebratory “Women’s History Month.” It’s about inclusion on multiple layers to talk about the tough topics, including violence against women. Breaking down the barriers for open and frank discussions is a necessity to educate global-minded citizens.

Source: NOT Okay

It is mind boggling that in this day and age, we still hear remarks about women dressing too revealingly and drinking too much as reasons for ending up as victims of sexual assaults. How disheartening that parental advice now includes "don’t put your glass down" when girls go off to college or go out with friends. It has nothing to do with sexy outfits and alcohol; it is about consent.

Source: Visually
Some of these topics are not age appropriate for young learners, but empowering them to recognize stereotypes in the media is. For a host of resources, look no further than car and diet commercials, or Disney princesses of today vs. yesteryear.  Children with a trained eye to spot bias in the media continue to apply their media literacy skills throughout life.

We need to do more. If we want girls and boys to grow up as respectful young women and men, we must find the time in the daily course of learning to educate them on issues. So, Orange Your Classroom. There’s still time. Then continue the conversation on the 25th of every month. Violence against women does not stop, nor should our education about it.

For other educational resources, please see:
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