Summer Update

Happy Summer!

It has been a whirlwind of the past 2 months… a few updates

1. I moved into a new place with my partner. Moving in is a lot of work. It was not immediately obvious that moving in is a month long process. Unpacking, acquiring furniture, restocking the pantry etc.We are still moving in but mostly done. I think the coffee table was the last major component…

2. I wish I was more DIY, but I suppose this is a start. The coffee table I found from Craigslist was mostly perfect, it raises up so you can dine from it. The only thing that was off was that it was painted black. It would be too much black in the living room so I decided to strip the paint to reveal the natural oak beneath! I still need to finish sanding it and then stain it. Next project is a Kitchen Island!

3M stripping gel after sitting for 2 hours- I go at it with a Putty knife
After sanding, coconut oil on one side to see comparison


Summer Class
3. Semester long coursework crammed into a 5-week Summer class is challenging. Meeting twice a week was manageable but it was demanding. The Communications class was the last core class for my MPA. Public speaking was fun, very hard to deliver from memory or even extemporaneously. I did reduce the amount of verbal fillers I used like “er”, “like” and “um”. Now on to electives!

Now a great excerpt on digital learning for young learners from this Week’s Marshall memo. With our kindergarten class at the organization I work at using Ipads it is important to have a set of regulations limiting the time these kids are interfacing with tech gadgets. There have not been any major published studies concluding what the effects of digital learning is on young brains.


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How Much Digital Text Should Young Children Be Reading?

“It’s been a long time since libraries were paper-only domains,” says author Annie Murphy Paul in this article in School Library Journal. “The number of websites, apps, and e-books for children under five has grown exponentially, leading librarians, teachers, and parents to wrestle with new questions about which digital offerings are appropriate and when.” Enthusiastic advocates make the case for exposing children to digital content at a young age, but others caution that the research is scanty and too much technology may “rewire” young brains, making it more difficult for children to pay attention and control their impulses.

“Children under age five need to handle real objects, learning for themselves how the natural world works,” says Paul. “They must move their bodies, coordinating their movements and gaining physical confidence. They should engage in unstructured playtime, exercising their imaginations, managing their emotions, and solving problems in scenarios of their own creation. And, most of all, young children need to interact with other people, navigating relationships with their peers and receiving guidance and support from adults. All of these needs are met most fully in the offline world.” Paul cites research on a number of ways in which digital content can shortchange development:

• Children have difficulty transferring knowledge from one context to another, even if a video portrays people speaking. A flesh-and-blood person can respond to a child’s gestures and words and presents a much richer array of cues than any two-dimensional image.

• Most digital content has little educational value, even if it claims that it does. And e-books with visual and auditory gimmicks and game-like features can distract young readers from the content.

• The time spent with digital media may not be messing up children’s brains, says Paul, but it means less time relating to people, playing in unstructured environments, and getting outside.

Paul is not a Luddite and believes digital content can enrich children’s lives, but she believes teachers, librarians, and parents need more guidance on choosing the best material and using it wisely. Here are her selection criteria:

– Digital material should be easy to use and understand.

– It should be accessible to children of varying abilities and levels of maturity.

– It should be playful and enjoyable, encouraging creativity and imaginativeness.

– It should be open-ended and interactive, not one-sided and passive.

– It should connect to children’s everyday experiences while exposing them to new information and perspectives.

Paul suggests several online clearinghouses that provide ratings of children’s media: Common Sense Media, Graphite, Children’s Technology Review, and Google Play for Education.

It’s also important for adults to interact with children while they’re using digital media – something that comes naturally while reading a book together (pausing to make a comment or ask a question) but happens less often with videos or apps. Paul urges adults to pose open-ended questions about electronic material and ask children to describe what’s happening in their own words. And adults should limit the time children spend with digital content. “The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under age two get no screen time at all,” says Paul, “and that older children be limited to two hours of screen time a day.”

Paul closes with a list of advantages that print books have over electronic reading matter for young children:

– Because paper books don’t have hyperlinks to click on, they can create a more immersive reading experience and children aren’t tempted to explore the Internet.

– With no visual and audio gimmicks and games, children are more likely to focus on the written words and remember what they’re reading.

– “Without the bells and whistles of e-books, young readers must mobilize their own imaginations to fill in the gaps left by authors and illustrators,” says Paul: “what a character looks like, for example, or the sound an animal makes.”

– The feel of paper and rich colors of illustrations are a strong feature of books, and many are significantly bigger than the small screens of tablets and laptops.

– Books are more conducive to “a quiet focus on words and stories,” says Paul, versus the fast-paced entertainment.

– Books are a little easier to share with others.

– Adults are more likely to stop and ask questions and less likely to say, “Swipe the page now” or “Don’t touch that button.”

– “The number of quality children’s books published in paper still vastly outnumbers those available in digital format,” says Paul.

“Too Soon? The Low-Down on Digital Content, What’s Appropriate, At What Age – and Some Props for Print Books” by Annie Murphy Paul in School Library Journal, July 2014 (Vol. 60, #7, p. 16-18), www.slj.com

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