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Giving Your Old Computer New Life

As the new school year starts you may be thinking about what you can do to give your old computer new life, or how to enhance a computer you are handing down to your kids. A recent Tech Tip column in The New York Times covers just that topic and discusses how adding RAM (Random Access Memory) or a new hard drive can revamp an old machine. A simple but useful one-stop shop for Macintosh users looking to upgrade can be found on Other World Computing’s My Upgrades page. There, you can enter the computer’s model number and it will generate a list that shows you all the components of the computer that can be upgraded. You can even buy the parts right there.

Possible Link Between Screen Time and ADHD

The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that too much screen time may boost teens' risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms, according to a study of 2,587 10th-graders in Los Angeles. Findings show that students in the study who were high frequency users of 7 or 14 digital media platforms were more than twice as likely to develop ADHD symptoms as students who didn't have a high frequency use rate of any of the online social activities.

Flick and Tricks on an iPad

Been having trouble typing on an iPad recently with different characters than the ones you thought you pressed showing up? Apple’s current iOS 11 update for the iPad includes a new feature in the system’s built-in software keyboard called Key Flicks — which may be inadvertently disrupting your text entry. With Key Flicks enabled, most of the onscreen keys can enter different characters depending on how your fingers touch the glass.

The alternate characters for each key are shown in gray above the larger black standard letter or punctuation marks. If you tap the T key normally, you get the letter T. However, if you tap the T key and your finger happens to linger and slide down a bit, the Key Flicks software will use the alternate character for that key — which is the number 5.

Want to turn it off and return to what it was like before? Go to the iPad’s home screen and open the Settings app. Tap General, and on the General screen tap Keyboard. In the list of settings, find Enable Key Flicks and tap the button to the right of it to disable the feature and go back to using the multiple keyboard levels to insert numbers and other characters.

Text Messages That Save Lives

Here is a rather scary fact. Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that suicide rates for teen girls, specifically, in the U.S. are at a 40-year high. So how do you target that audience? Crisis Text Line, which launched about four years ago, offers free crisis intervention via text messages. Seven out of 10 texters are women, and 75 percent are under age 25. The stats also skew rural, LGBT and low-income.

 While Crisis Text Line is not set up as an ongoing therapy, volunteers field texts about topics ranging from school stress to suicidal thoughts and work to get first-responders on the scene when needed. And how do people find the service? If you search the hashtag #741741 you will see posts on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook spreading the word. Fifty million texts were exchanged with Crisis Text Line in the first four years, and they expect another 50 million just within the next year.

The Hurricane Harvey Book Club

Second Grade teacher Kathryn Mills started a Facebook book club to encourage students who were unable to attend school during Hurricane Harvey to post videos about the books they were reading. The Hurricane Harvey Book Club started with 70 members and has grown to more than 72,000 followers. It is a great example of how digital book reports can be done.

 

Class Notes: Paper vs. Digital

Paper may trump digital when preparing for exams, according to a report from the Paper and Packaging Board. Data shows that 70% of junior- and high-school students use handwritten class notes to prepare for tests, while 81% of college students still use paper notes to prepare. Not to be outdone, the National Pen Company has also put together an infographic that highlights the pros of putting pen to paper. Some of the benefits they mention include having better recall of the information jotted down, making you think about the concepts discussed more deeply, and helping you process the information presented.

Learning To Code Isn’t All They Learned

An article in The New York Times about programs that teach coding and programming to children as young as 2 years old also teaches a variety of other invaluable life skills. When children are given the freedom to use their curiosity to explore and make things, they learn how to solve problems through making mistakes. These skills help children in coping with frustration and empathizing and collaborating with others, something that has proven to be important for success in adulthood. “If you raise and educate kids to be flexible, problem solvers and good communicators, they can adapt to a world that is new,” says Harvard Professor Stephanie M. Jones.

Sketchnoting

With tablets becoming more and more akin to sketchpads these days with the use of a stylus, it is no wonder that educators are talking more about a new method of taking illustrated notes called sketchnoting to help kids improve retention and learning. Take a look at this presentation called Sketchnoting for Beginners to see what it entails – sort of a combination of visual notetaking, diagrams, symbols, objects, arrows, dividers, bubbles, boxes, colors, and typography and much more. Ask you kids to try the method by sketchnoting a newstory on television or part of a documentary. Sketchnoting can help kids focus during lectures and adds that digital component – if done on a tablet- that may just help them focus.

Digital Note Taking – Summer is a Good Time to Practice

Does you child have trouble taking notes in class? If he or she has a 504 plan or IEP, they may be allowed to record lectures, but many students don’t have the patience  (or the time) to review hours of talk when they get home. Smartpens, such as Livescribe or Equil, may help. They can capture not only everything your child hears, but anything they write down in class. If any note is unclear, all your child needs to do is touch it with the smartpen and replay what was said at that exact point in the lecture. Some schools may even cover the cost of a smartpen if it’s part of a 504 plan or an IEP.

Although this sounds great, don’t send them back to school without some practice. If you get one of these pens, try it out at home. YouTube has lots of short videos on how each pen works (just type in the brand name or “smart pens” in Search). Have them take notes on a newscast or documentary of interest and see how it works in practice. Even if your child does not have specific accommodations, this kind of digital tool can help, especially for children who are just learning to take notes in class.

Assistive Technology – It’s Not Just for Kids with Disabilities

Jenny Grabiec, the Director of Technology at The Fletcher School, has a free book out called iCan with iOS: Apps, Tools & Strategies for Students with Learning and Attention Issues, but as she points out in an article on the Edutopia site, assistive technology can benefit all students. Grabiec states that for all students, with or without learning differences, using text-to-speech and speech-to-text tools are shown to read longer, write longer, and show a great improvement in spelling. Clock apps, with timers and alarms, can help students stay on task and be used for important reminders during the day. Interested in these kinds of apps? Take a look at the Edutopia Assistive Technology: Resource Roundup as well.

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