Category: Education

What Does the Future of School Look Like?

The Future of School

For 60% of Americans, the traditional education system is not up to snuff.  When asked why, students and parents alike couple grim statistics with their own personal experiences.  More than 6 million students are “chronically absent” from school in the US each year. Teenagers are 5 times more likely to suffer from a mental illness now than in prior generations.

Furthermore, a whopping 86% of high school students believe their schools value grades more than learning, as they say most students end up cheating at some point.  Radical change needs to happen in the school system.  And it has, just not for the reasons reformers expected.

In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, millions of students tried out online learning for the first time in 2020.  As as pandemic progressed, schools of all types were going in and out of the virtual format in an ad hoc manner.  Despite the frustration caused by switching around, 57% of students feel more positively about online learning than they did prior to the pandemic.  Imagine what a planned, professionally designed virtual school environment can do for children.

Could virtual schools be the future of education?  For some students, yes.  Families all over the nation are turning to online education because it offers more flexible schedules, a safer environment, and more chances for family involvement in their child’s education.  Flexibility is a great thing for students because it allows them to be treated like individuals, something large school districts struggle to do.  Online school has lower incidences of bullying than in-person school does.  Furthermore, online school is time effective.  Online learning can cover the same material in 40% to 60% less time than traditional school formats.  A virtual student in school for the same amount of time could potentially learn twice as much.

Moreover, virtual school is a chance to design education for the 21st century.  Traditional school settings value compliance and uniformity while the modern workforce wants to see people exhibit innovation, creativity, and initiative.  Individuals who take more initiative in their own learning are more successful in our rapidly changing technological world.  Online school is a chance to create better learning formats, such as a project based curriculum with greater focus on the student’s goals and needs.  Traditional grading scales can be replaced with self-evaluation and more descriptive forms of teacher feedback.  New options arise thanks to online schooling.

What Does the Future of School Look Like?

What will life be like in the future?  Read about technology of the future.

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This is Why Storytelling is the Secret of Every Great Kids Content Creator

Why Storytelling is the Secret for Every Child

For kids, games come in all shapes and sizes; from video games to board games, it’s easy to get lost in the world of play. And who can blame them? Kids are born with an innate sense of curiosity that makes them eager for new experiences and learning opportunities.

The younger generation is already ahead when it comes to technology; they’re familiar with smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc., because these devices are now part of their daily lives. Smartphones make access to information possible at any moment or place, but this also means kids (and adults) spend more time indoors than ever before.

Storytelling and Technology

Technology is meant to be used as a tool for work and entertainment, but too much screen time has the opposite effect – one becomes less motivated and less willing to explore the great outdoors. Besides, the internet is a massive source of information, so why even leave the house when you have Google at your fingertips?

There are lots of articles out there about how technology is ruining our kids’ creativity, but here’s an important aside: it’s not just the internet’s fault. The world needs creative individuals who are motivated to create and share their ideas with others. Perhaps one of the most important contributions you can make is ensure internet safety for your young one.

It’s for the concerns surrounding technology that makes storytelling so powerful; it activates imagination, helps children make sense of the world, and encourages them to seek out new experiences. Storytelling can never be fully replaced by technology because words can capture the most profound imaginations through sensory immersion. According to the reviews of profs, who know how to motivate students during distance learning, the younger generation may not be playing board games with actual cards or chess pieces to learn, but they’re still able to become engaged in interactive storytelling through apps.

Structured Play and Online Games

Since storytelling has an influence on social development, kids who play online games tend to have greater cognitive skills than those who don’t – gamers excel at strategic thinking, problem-solving, imagining alternative endings and other creative abilities that build after a child begins to construct a more thorough understanding of the world around them.

Unstructured play allows children to learn by exploring, and storytelling which is an effective window into this type of self-expression. It encourages kids to investigate their surroundings from a different perspective, often becoming motivated by the desire to live vicariously through their favorite characters. However, it’s important not to underestimate the value of educational content in online games for younger audiences; it provides information on subjects like having greater cognitive skills and math skills, science facts while promoting logical thinking and creative problem-solving.

While parents may cringe at some mobile games that don’t offer much educational value, there are many apps that provide a balance between fun and fundamental learning principles that help young children grow into well-rounded adults. Kids are born with a desire to explore the world, so it’s up to us as parents and educators to encourage this tendency through storytelling produced by professional content creators.

What Parents Should Know about Telling Stories

Kids love to be entertained, which is why they go crazy for TV shows and video games. They want their eyes and ears to be stimulated, and it’s up to parents and educators to choose content that matches with educational goals and fosters healthy habits. Kids shouldn’t spend all their time with technology; it needs to be used as a tool for learning, just like books or any other form of storytelling. There are many benefits of telling stories instead of simply reading to them, such as:

  • Interactive dialogue encourages kids not only to listen but also to respond in some way: Words have the ability to capture imaginations, but kids also need a voice to make sense of their thoughts and emotions.
  • Interactive dialogue encourages problem-solving: When characters come across an obstacle in a story, kids are motivated by the desire to help them succeed. This is how a child begins to learn problem-solving skills at a young age.
  • Interactive dialogue motivates kids to explore worlds beyond this one: Being able to explore new environments through stories allows children’s imaginations to run wild. Their physical surroundings no longer limit them; they become more willing to leave the comfort of home because it means learning about something special or discovering something hidden from plain view.

Storytelling about the child’s ancestors can also be a great way to engage connect them with their own past as they learn where they came from.

How to Use Online Games with Kids for Storytelling

Making up stories allows kids to explore their own creativity while learning about the world around them. On top of that, creating content themselves helps children find better ways to express themselves; this is why apps which provide interactive platforms for young writers are so popular. There are many benefits to collaborative storytelling, such as:

  • Kids get a chance to publicly show off their work. This motivates them to write and share their stories with others in a safe and encouraging environment.
  • Kids learn the importance of sharing ideas while building relationships with peers who have similar interests. Collaborative storytelling can be an excellent way for children to learn social skills at a young age, especially if they’re struggling with understanding how interacting with other people works.
  • Collaborative storytelling is less intimidating since it provides more of an opportunity for kids to express themselves creatively without pressure from outside sources. In this case, parents shouldn’t feel the need to step in every so often because there’s no expectation of high standards or serious criticism.
  • Kids learn about story arcs and character development while encouraging one another’s work. They help each other grow, which is why collaborative storytelling has the power to transform little writers into powerful communicators as they mature.

When it comes to choosing storytelling devices that encourage young children to use their imaginations and follow their creative impulses, parents should focus more on building a safe environment. The environments should allow the kids to thrive instead of analyzing every single detail of what their child creates with the app.

Parents Can Be Kid Content Creators Too

Since storytelling is an important part of childhood development, parents should feel encouraged to create content that helps cultivate life skills and develop ideas about science and math. This isn’t just for entertainment; stories come with valuable lessons that teach children how the world works, like:

  • The idea is that everything they do has an impact on others (and vice versa). Stories help kids understand how their actions affect other people’s lives; this is why young children are encouraged to share their work with each other instead of keeping it all to themselves.
  • Every single person has their own perspective on the world around them. Every story teaches kids there are multiple ways of seeing things depending on who’s looking at the situation. This helps them establish empathy for others by understanding where they’re coming from and what they experience on a daily basis.
  • Being able to think critically about what they see in stories builds problem-solving skills as well as analytical thinking. Kids can consider alternate scenarios and explore the many ways of seeing a story from unique angles.

Final Thoughts

Parents should encourage their children to be creative, but it’s also important for parents not to stifle their kids’ imaginations by constantly questioning them about what they’re writing or drawing. For example, don’t ask why a child drew a certain picture because you might get an answer that triggers more questions until the original purpose has been completely forgotten. Never criticize or give your opinion unless it’s absolutely necessary; simply say something like, “I’m happy to help if you need any ideas,” and let your child do all the thinking while guiding conversation where necessary.

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How to Help Kids Be Focused and Productive with their Homework

How to Help Kids Be Focused and Productive with their Homework

Are your kids finding it hard to concentrate? Not just on homework, but on virtually anything? Welcome to planet distraction, where every age group is affected by 24/7 connectedness… where a device is always pinging, dinging or blaring content. Are there any solutions to help us focus in such an environment? –Actually, there are!

Should Kids Be Using Smartphones?

If So, From What Age?

Ask a group of parents what the appropriate age is for a child to begin using a cell phone and you will get a variety of impassioned responses. For some, it’s not until high school, whereas others see merit in having their child develop a relationship with technology earlier on. In any case, it’s not our job to tell you what devices to give your kids, but as soon as that Pandora’s box is opened, there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle… to mix metaphors.

When kids – hopefully at least teens at the youngest – begin engaging with social media, a phone or iPad or laptop can become an addictive problem. Have you ever tried taking away a 14-year-old’s phone for even a brief period such as dinner? For many parents, it’s a battle royale. Digital distractions are – for a great number of kids, especially teenagers – clearly affecting the quality and productivity of their lives – and that definitely includes the quality of their homework.

How to Use Tech Tools

Blocking Apps to Teach Focus:  For starters, eliminating digital distractions is key to help kids focus and build good study habits. Easier said than done as for one, the device may be needed for homework, and two, many young people say they’d rather go without food than without their phone and a Wi-Fi connection. We joke, but there is a solution to having a device, but not being distracted by it. Parents can quite easily learn how to block certain websites with a tech tool known as a blocking app. Now quite popular with office and home workers as well as college students, a blocking app syncs across all your devices and enables you to choose which sites to block at which specific times.

For example, a 14-year-old coming home from school at say 4:00 p.m. could have their phone and laptop set up so that social media sites are only available from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. All of these blocking choices would be up to you – and hopefully made in consultation with your child. A child who is persuaded of the logic of blocking digital distractions during designated times for schoolwork is getting a great life lesson on self-control. Obviously, a blocking app also serves as a sentinel against adult sites or sites with violent content and other unwanted material. And… perhaps mom and dad might also want to use a blocking app to reduce notifications and set an example of not being addicted to smartphones during homework, dinner, and other family times.

Understanding How Brains Works Can Lead to Better Cooperation with Limits   

For kids old enough to understand, you might try explaining the science. Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientist Professor Earl Miller told The Guardian, “Your brain can only produce one or two thoughts [at a time]. We’re very, very single-minded.” In other words, our conscious minds are only capable of holding very limited amounts of information. Our cognitive capacity is tiny. We think we can do two or more things at a time but this is false.

Instead, as neuroscientist Miller explains, “They’re switching back and forth. They don’t notice the switching because their brain sort of papers it over to give a seamless experience of consciousness, but what they’re actually doing is switching and reconfiguring their brain moment-to-moment, task-to-task – [and] that comes with a cost.” That cost is the ability to focus on a single task and as a result, a huge fall in productivity.

In addition to a blocking app, which works as a digital distraction filter, any expert will tell you that children need a routine; they actually appreciate you setting one for them, even though they often vehemently claim they do not. Setting up a specific time that is “homework time” and is always “homework time” creates a routine that stops any debates over when homework should be done. Homework is done during homework time. Period.

Tidy Workspace Equals a Clear Mind

While not feasible for all families because not everyone lives in a large house, having a designated workspace for your child is, of course, ideal. Even if your house is too small for a separate room, clearing off the kitchen table and making it as tidy as possible along with setting up homework equipment is a good idea, as designated homework spaces contribute to a feeling of order and routine. Tidiness is also essential. A clean working area helps create a clean working mind.

Taking Breaks is Essential:   Don’t forget breaks. The adage of ‘all work and no play’ being bad for students isn’t just a frivolous rhyme. The breaks don’t have to be lengthy and depending on the age of the child, perhaps even involve some sort of exercise. Brainpower is boosted by exercise so even a quick 5-minute “dance break” could be helpful.

Remind yourself that when kids are in school, they take their cues from classmates and perhaps sometimes teachers, but when doing homework at home you are the primary role model. You can demonstrate to them that you also do homework in your daily life. Explaining things such as a grocery list or some discussion at dinner on how you plan to organize a workday can instill the idea that everyone does ‘homework’ in their own way.

And finally, remember to tell your children that you’re proud of them whenever honestly possible. They need to know that their effort is appreciated and the simple phrase “I’m proud of you!” is a proven effective motivator.

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Block Programming and Developing Computational Thinking

Block Programming and Developing Computational Thinking

Faced with the new multidisciplinary challenges posed by the Information Societyeducation must continue to act as a guide so that children and young people can manage in an increasingly complex environment. And it is in this context where computational thinking, driven by the development of new digital tools, has become the backbone for the acquisition of valuable skills.

Therefore, today we want to make a practical approach to this concept through block programming, as it is an ideal option to develop some of these skills, such as creativity or communication of ideas. It is also an enjoyable way for students to learn difficult concepts.

Block programming, from theory to practice in computational thinking

To facilitate the learning of computational thinking at an early age, it is advisable to develop its theoretical concepts through didactic activities that serve to reinforce what has already been learned. Thus, ProFuturo‘s resource ‘Introduction to block programming’ has been created and designed so that teachers can explore with their students the practical applications of this problem-solving methodology.

Starting from the base, programming is an instrumental competence that is linked to the cognitive ability that is computational thinking. For its development, codes are used that, correctly structured and organized, give rise to applications that have the ability to execute commands and carry out tasks.

However, these codes are written in specific complex languages that are difficult to assimilate. Especially in primary education, although fortunately we have the block methodology to iron out these edges.

The practical and fun solution to take the first steps in programming.

Block programming compacts codes into logical and ordered sequences of instructions (blocks). That is, it creates figures that embody individual events or functions and that have the ability to connect graphically with each other, to generate one or more logical sequences of actions; and, therefore, to end up giving rise to simple programs. In this way, this methodology allows to handle, in a tangible and practical way, something as abstract as code; and it does it through fun and entertaining exercises that encourage further discovery.

This is something that students appreciate, because through this simple learning process they can see in real time the results of their work and evaluate the incorporation of new parameters. And also the teachers, because, even in cases where they have little or no skills in the subject, they can easily assimilate the concepts of basic programming involved in this solution, and therefore also the core area of computational thinking that is explored with it.

What does ProFuturo’s block training proposal consist of?

In its commitment to innovation and development processes in teaching, ProFuturo makes the resource ‘Introduction to block programming’ available to teachers.

But what are the aspects that make this unit unique? Here are some of its key features:

  • It has been designed using the visual block language Scratch. This is specifically designed for children to learn to how to programme.
  • It also makes a small approximation to other options available in the market, such as Pocket Code and Blockly.
  • Its contents are aimed at students between the ages of 8 and 12, who have experience in the use of computers and who have basic knowledge of computer language, logical thinking and the use of programming in playful environments.
  • Its development is progressive, as it progresses step by step, from the basics to the approach of a final challenge. In it, students can put into practice everything they have learned about block programming through Scratch.
  • It provides the fundamental concepts of block programming from a fully creative approach, as it invites children and young people to make the animation of a character and encourages them to share their ideas using this simple language.
  • It generates memorable and fun experiences, which are a constant motivation to adequately face the resolution of problems that arise in class.
  • Not only does it provide specific skills, but it also sets goals to achieve transversal competencies that are basic for the personal and human development of the students.

In short, the unit ‘Introduction to block programming’ allows to take a step further in learning the keys to computational thinking. Its great advantage is that it simplifies the most complex programming concepts and frames them in a visual and attractive context, so that children feel stimulated when developing their skills.

Learning about Programming: The Complete Guide For Beginners

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