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Will we have an earthquake here?

Will we have an earthquake here? Will we have a tsunami here? I know I'm not the only parent or teacher to be asked those questions this week.

The crisis in Japan is so difficult to comprehend, especially for our young ones. Learning more about a situation can provide opportunities to talk through fears and concerns. Here are some resources that you might find useful to share with kids. Some are designed specifically for children, others are not, so be aware of ads or surrounding content that may not be appropriate for your audience.

Two ideas worth spreading

Ideas worth spreading is the tagline for TED, a website that provides "riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world." If you are not familiar with the TED site, you should go visit it! I've watched some truly amazing talks on there, ones that I think about for days afterward. Here are two new talks I watched recently that have really stayed with me.

World wide waste of time?

I really enjoyed this blog post Kickin it Old School by a teacher reflecting on technology in her classroom. "Give me a library card and a piece of chalk and stand back and watch me work," she writes of her old way of thinking. This teacher's thinking about technology evolved, but she stands steadfast in her belief that the world wide web shouldn't take us away from the "wide world of wonder."

More computer time = lower test scores?

When kids get on the computer, do they spend more time surfing the 'net and less time doing homework and studying? It appears that way, according to this article in Sunday's New York Times.

Word clouds as teaching tools

Summer months provide teachers an opportunity to reflect on the successes of the past year and to gather ideas for next year. One site to tuck away and pull out next year is Tagxedo, a word cloud creator. The possibilities for language arts lessons are endless!

Tagxedo creates "tag clouds with styles." As with other tag clouds, a user begins creating a tab cloud by entering text. Text can come from a webpage, a list of words, or pasted in text from a book.

Ad-ucation for kids

In today's media saturated environment, kids are confronted with ads all day long. From cereal boxes to pop up ads on the Internet to book club flyers, it's constant product marketing. Media literacy is a legitimate skill to develop in kids.

iPhone apps for kids

The iPad is being released this week. There's little chance I'll be getting one anytime soon, so I thought I'd turn to the blogosphere to find out which apps for kids are popular for my plain 'ol iPhone.

Food for thought

Several articles caught my eye this week and made me think. I thought I'd share a few in case you missed them.

Keyboarding skills online

From hanging around the computer lab at our school I've learned that my third grader is learning to use the home row when typing. No more hunt and peck for her! How times have changed. I learned the home row in high school, in business class, using an IBM Selectric.

Curl up with... a Kindle?

I got a Kindle for Christmas, and before too long it found its way into the hands of Molly (9) and Anna (7).

If you're unfamiliar with Amazon's eReader, the Kindle, or eReaders in general, they're portable electronic devices that allow you to download, store and read books wirelessly. Different from a laptop, most eReaders are not backlit, which means you can't view the screen in the dark but you can read in bright sunlight, something you can't do with a laptop. Most eReaders rely on something called eInk, which uses a low-power, high contrast "electronic paper."

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"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark." — Victor Hugo, Les Miserables