Renascence School Education News - private school

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Group seeks to help girls learn computer language

The Times-Tribune – KATHLEEN BOLUS

” The girls meeting in the dimly lit University of Scranton computer lab aren’t trying to hack into secret files or “break the Internet.” The only thing the members of the Scranton chapter of Girls Who Code are hoping to crack is the gender gap. “In the future there’s going to be a greater need for people who know how to do this stuff everywhere so there’s no reason why boys should only know how to do it,” said Alana Simrell, an eighth- grader from All Saints Academy, who is the group’s vice president. Girls Who Code is a national group that encourages girls to close the gender gap in computer science. Sponsored by Bill Miller, a local parent, the chapter of 14 girls in grades eight to 12 from different area schools met every Thursday for 20 weeks to learn to write computer code used in websites, cellphone apps and computer programs, and be introduced to career possibilities in a male-dominated field.”(more)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Common Core Tests Require Digital, Computer Literacy Skills

Education News – Kristin Decarr

“As computer skills become increasing necessity in the workforce, there has been a call for greater digital and computer literacy in schools and the inclusion of such skills in both curriculum and testing. Exams linked to the Common Core standards will replace the paper-and-pencil multiple choice tests given in 29 states this year. Students who take the new exams must be able to switch between screens, open drop-down menus and be able to move words and numbers. Many educators argue that although children have grown up in a computer-savvy world, hands-on instruction is still needed as the exams require different skills of test-takers than they would learn using a smartphone, reports Lisa Leff for The Columbian.”(more)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

More Black, Latino Teens Say They’re Online ‘Almost Constantly’

Ariana Tobin

“While phones seem poised to hit a full saturation point across the board, there are meaningful differences in how various demographics use them. Among African-American teens, Pew says 34 percent report going online “almost constantly,” as do 32 percent of Hispanic teens, but only 19 percent of white teens say they go online that often. And while African-American teens are most likely to have access to a smartphone, they’re have somewhat less access to a desktop or laptop computer at home. Katie Naoum, a middle school English teacher at South Bronx Prep, was one of the dozens of teachers who surveyed her students for a New Tech City project exploring some of those differences. Her classes are for the most part African-American or Hispanic, and the South Bronx is one of the poorest districts in the country. While everyone in her class has a cell phone — most have iPhones — not all have home computers.”(more)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Moving Smarter

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


Although a healthy diet and adequate sleep help prepare a child for a day of learning, experts now believe exercise is critical for academic success.


According to Dr. John Ratey, Harvard University MD and Clinical Psychology Professor, our body, including our brain, is designed to perform most efficiently when we move. We have perfected our hard-wired need to conserve energy and find high calorie foods, but have failed to maintain enough movement in our lives.


We are all culprits. We drive instead of walk; our kids sit in front of the TV or computer instead of playing tag, climbing trees, and digging up buried treasure; and we go the grocery store instead of tending a garden.


Deb Skaret, who holds a PhD in educational psychology from the University of Alberta, and long time student of the brain says there is a strong link between exercise and learning. In addition, she believes attention problems in children can be related to a lack of physical activity.


Dr. Ratey agrees, “Exercise helps us with patience, optimism, focus and motivation. Exercise is like a little bit of Ritalin and a little bit of Prozac. It increases the levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine and allows children to stay more focused, have less disruptive energy, and have less worries.”


He encourages “Time-In”, controlled physical activity on a stationary bike for example, rather than “Time-Out”, sitting quietly. He argues that the physical activity break allows the child time to “recover” and “control” his/her behavior.


According to Ratey, research also suggests a link between obesity and IQ. Obese children, who tend to be relatively physically inactive, have lower IQs than children of normal weight. So logically, a smart child with a weight problem could become smarter if he/she added more movement to his/her daily schedule.


Parent can also help with the process by shut off the TV, restricting video and computer time and encouraging daily activities that require their children to move.


So let’s get moving and get smarter!


Friday, March 13, 2015

Get moving: Tips for families to be active together

Standard-Journal – Ashleigh Wetzel, PT, DPT

“One of the biggest challenges for parents is to combat the amount of screen time their children get. Screen time includes watching television and playing on the computer, iPad, or other electronic devices. According to the latest statistics from the National Institutes of Health, most American children today spend three hours a day watching television. When you add together the other types of screen time it increases to five to seven hours a day. This is time when they could be participating in more physical activities…Here are some tips for families to be more physically active together.”(more)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Has technology made your child vulnerable?

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


Does the rest of the world know more about your child than you do?


When Facebook first became popular, kids did not understand the permanence of social media posts or how a “private” post could be circulated to millions of people. Today most kids know the risks of posting inappropriate pictures, disclosing travel plans, and making caustic comments online.


Now parents are being forced to address a new set of challenges. The latest threats come from RFID (radio frequency identification) chips and search engine, social media, and credit card data collection.


RFID chips are used to track items at a distance. With recent prices drops, governments and private companies are embedding these chips into many things including driver licenses, credit cards, and clothing. In the right hands the information is helpful, since it can help curb credit card fraud and reduce shoplifting. However, the technology also makes it easy for criminals to track and take advantage of children.


One of the most concerning trends is information sharing between data collectors (driver license agencies and credit card companies) and police departments. Although information on police misconduct is not well publicized, some publications are suggesting that thousands of police officers are involved in criminal behavior including violence, drugs, theft, and forcible sex. As a result sharing detailed personal information with these agencies puts our kids at risk.


The second problem is equally troubling. Internet companies like Google and Facebook are collecting and selling personal information on their users at an alarming rate. The information is not only sold to companies who are interested in targeted marketing, but also to organizations that use the information for other purposes. This means criminals can get very detailed information on almost everyone, including children.


The challenge is we need to access and use information to function in the 21st Century. As a result, it is not realistic to prohibit our children from using the Internet. Instead we need to talk with our children about the issues, so they can minimize the information they release and are aware that criminals likely have all their personal information.


Then parents need to reduce the amount information they allow their children to place on the web and should demand the right to opt out of RFID programs. Most importantly, we need to support companies that allow us to protect our privacy.


We deserve to know more about our kids than Google, Cola Cola, and the government.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Los Angeles schools chief to seek halt to computers-for-all program

Reuters – Sharon Bernstein

“Los Angeles schools chief Ramon Cortines on Friday signaled he is ready to abandon a troubled plan to provide a computer to every student in the second-largest U.S. public school district, a reversal of a policy championed by his predecessor. Cortines said the district could not afford the program, which aimed to provide iPads and computers to the district’s 640,000 students, along with teachers and many administrators. “We are committed to providing technology to our children -whether it be desktop computer labs, laptops or tablets – to help prepare them for the 21st century,” Cortines said. “However, as we are reviewing our lessons learned, there must be a balanced approach to spending bond dollars to buy technology when there are so many brick and mortar and other critical facility needs that must be met.” Cortines made his remarks amid tense labor negotiations between the Los Angeles Unified School District and its teachers union, United Teachers of Los Angeles. Earlier this week, both sides said they were deadlocked in negotiations over raises, class size and other issues.”(more)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Computer Time: How Long Is Too Long?

The Huffington Post – Kiki Prottsman

“Students are spending more and more time with technology these days. They’re looking at monitors in class and at home. They use screens for education, for recreation, and for information. Our children are surrounded by computers, tablets and cell phones…but how much is too much? Thinkersmith has reviewed the research and observed students from kindergarteners to undergrads, and have developed our own guidelines that serve us well for classes and camps. In general, Thinkersmith recommends that students spend no more time sitting in front of a computer than you would expect them to be able to sit still for a book. If, for example, a kindergartener would comfortably listen to their teacher read for fifteen to twenty minutes, then that should also be the time limit for a kindergartener’s computer activity. This approach works fantastically up until around the sixth grade…”(more)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Should computer science courses be mandatory?

The Deseret News – Eric Schulzke

“The real challenge in American higher education is not that we don’t have enough college graduates. If New York Times columnist Charles Blow is right, it’s that too many of them are majoring in English, art history, or ethnic or gender studies, and not enough in science, technology, engineering and math. Take computer science, for example. Blow points to data compiled at Georgia Tech showing vast disparities in who is taking the computer science advanced placement exam. Blacks, Hispanics and women still lag significantly in computer science preparation, the study found, comparing the percentage of the population taking the AP computer science A exam to the population in the state. “No matter what strides we make — or don’t — in the march toward racial and gender equality in this country,” Blow asks, “is this an area in which the future will feel more stratified, and in which the inequalities, particularly economic ones, will mount? Is science education a new area of our segregation?” “Women make up nearly half the workforce but have just 26 percent of science, technology, engineering or math jobs, according to the Census Bureau,” the New York Times noted in a 2013 editorial. Blacks make up 11 percent of the workforce but just 6 percent of such jobs and Hispanics make up nearly 15 percent of the workforce but hold 7 percent of those positions.” The problem, STEM advocates say, is twofold. First, the jobs these students are avoiding pay better, and second, there are simply more of them.”(more)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Gaming Can Give Troubled Teens Another Shot At Learning

Forbes – Nick Morrison

“Students who get turned off by education can struggle to see the point of schools, but one project is showing how gaming can give troubled teens another shot at learning. Games developer Kuato has already won plaudits for its work in schools, where students have to learn basic code to take a robot through an adventure/shoot-em-up game…But in a new departure, Kuato has gone into a school for students who struggle to engage with mainstream education, to see if coding can give them a reason to learn…the results suggest that creating games does have the power to switch students back on to education.”(more)