Category Archives: education

Soft skills for students?

I’m interested to see if middle schoolers will be developing what’s called “soft skills” this fall.

There’s been a lot of chatter that digital natives – kids who have been raised in today’s tech-driven world – are growing up as mere computer geeks.

As a result, students today aren’t learning how to communicate with others, get along in a team situation or collaborate to solve a problem.

So will these and other so-called “soft skills” find their way into classrooms?

We’ll see.


Device management goes to school

Management of mobile devices is a huge issues in schools this fall.

Some schools have banned smartphones, laptops and all personal technology, choosing instead to give students “tech breaks.”

Other teachers are using a system which shuts down smartphones. Compliance is digitally tracked by the teacher and punished with grade deductions.

This attention to curbing device usage has roots in research: data shows that multitasking is a myth. When our brain focuses on one thing, it shuts down something else. This rapid attention-switching can result in lower grades, which is the reason educators are rethinking their previous, lenient approach to digital devices.

Digital citizenship

Students heading back to school might be surprised to see a class labeled, “Digital citizenship.”

Equally surprising: their teacher might be the school librarian.

Teaching kids appropriate, safe and responsible ways to be safe online, “information literacy” is a buzz word in schools this fall.

A happy school

Just as schools open in the US, a school building project will begin in rural India.

The goal of the weekday boarding school: teach students to be happy.

Because great lives are built on personal happiness and emotional intelligence, (according to the website) the architectural drawings feature a village. This will allow the physical structure to support the critical development of interpersonal relationships.

It will be interesting to see how this initiative develops.

An easy head start

Does your child know how to hold a pen or pencil?

That’s not a silly question.

Researchers are finding that some children enter school without the strength or flexibility to properly hold a pencil.

Although there are several ways to grip a writing tool, strong fine or small muscles are needed. Scientists have observed that children who have spent hours with technology during the early years are the most likely to have trouble maneuvering a pencil.

Give your child a head start. At least sometimes, substitute a pencil for the tablet.

To bad or not to ban

The problem vexing administrators as they think ahead to the new school year: to ban or not to ban student cell phones.

Although cell phones have proven valuable in school shootings, the digital distraction is having a negative impact on learning.

Students at all levels are confident of their ability to multitask. However, research has shown that rapid attention shifts actually hijack our thinking.

Plus, the anxiety that results from being disconnected to phones, laptops and other gadgets also distracts from learning.

“To ban or not to ban?” The question is real. The answer is not clear.

Exciting (really!) libraries

Look for more school-library partnerships, as checking out books to meet summer reading requirements will be merely one of many options.

Library directors have made intentional efforts to link with summer learning initiatives. Mobile media centers and STEM-focused “maker spaces” will be popular with kids and parents. Librarians are especially trying to engage entire families in digital literacy programs.

Educators and librarians hope the result will be to inspire a lifelong love of learning. I echo that hope.