Bringing High Tech Learning Home
Ways to continue tech education after school
Many parents see how fast their kids pick up on technology and wonder how they could incorporate that into after school education. We asked School District 2's tech experts to weigh in on the topic and offer some advice with a little Q and A.
Q. What are some of the best educational sites or apps for kids of all ages?
A. There are so many it is almost impossible to pare down the list to just a few! Check your school's website to start. Newman Elementary has a great example! Click on newmanelem.weebly.com/learninglinks for some suggestions. Principals, teachers and students have come up with excellent lists of tried and true sites and app lists. ABCYA.com and storylineonline.net are two favorite picks for early elementary grades. Studyjams.scholastic.com is good for middle school students. Looking for something to challenge your high school students? Try vocabulary.com for skills in becoming a better wordsmith or mint.com for lessons in personal finance. You can also log on to mtcis.intocareers.org to get your teen thinking about career options.
Q. Many parents aren't sure how their children's technology can be used to teach. Are there resources out there to help/educate parents?
A. Your child's teacher is a tremendous resource. Ask him or her what concepts they are studying in class and gear the apps and sites to those lessons. The Technology Integration Specialists (us!) have a show on Community Seven TV called 406 Tech Talk. The show's main focus is to support teachers and the community in knowing what's happening in the classroom, to introduce them to the people making technology happen in Billings, and to demonstrate how to use the tools, gadgets and resources that are in use around the district. You can also find us online with tutorials and information at bpstis.org.
Q. Many times technology can close the door on interaction instead of encourage it between parents and their children. How can parents turn technology into a more interactive event with their kids?
A. Communication is paramount. Parents should be asking their child about what they are learning - technology included. Learn the sites your children use -- Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Vimeo and YouTube just to name a few! Sit with your child while they are on their devices and just ask questions. Ask, 'What are you doing? What is the purpose of this game? Why do you like it?' Most gaming devices also have group modes so the whole family could play. For instance the app "Game of Life" is fun for the whole family. My 93-year-old grandma loves to play with my 8-year-old. There is nothing more fun or rewarding (or more than a little intimidating!) than to see your child work his technology magic by teaching YOU how to use an app or navigate a device! Empowering kids by embracing their knowledge and letting them teach us can lead to quality time and a huge boost in self-confidence for them.
Q. Most parents are keenly aware of the dangers that the web and apps can pose to their kids. Are there any sites you would recommend for helping a parent polish up on their Internet safety?
A. NetSmartz.org is a great resource and it is one that the whole family can use. There are videos, games, and great discussion points for both parents and kids. Just like we teach our children to be safe in the yard, or safe at the park, we have to have a frank discussion about being safe online. Why not have a weekly or monthly safety meeting? Also, random device checks are the best idea ever. There is no reason a child has to have total ownership of a device, or the "privacy" he thinks comes with it. Parents should have open control and access to their children's devices and information for safety's sake! Make it a point to know all of your kids' log-ins and passwords and make sure your kids know you will be checking.