Monday, November 18, 2013

Sesame Street: The Hungry Games

Have you seen Sesame Street's latest parody? 

Cookie Monster and his friends take on the Hunger Hungry Games. They stop and think in order to solve simple patterns, helping them identify what to eat. 

Now, fess up...did you watch or did you share with your kids? Did you know that Sesame Workshop uses parodies, celebrities, and references to pop culture in order to draw in adult viewership? 

But why does adult viewership matter?

Research shows that ...
Children benefit most from exposure to digital media when a more capable individual mediates the experience with them!
When parents or more capable others, such as siblings, friends, caregivers, and teachers, watch media with children they help relate the experience to the child's daily lives, further enhancing the learning experience. This is called co-viewing and research has shown that it has a positive effect on a child's development, compared to individual viewing experiences.
Parents don't necessarily have to talk to their child about the program while it is being viewed, but because there was a shared viewing experience, the content of the information viewed may come up later. The child or parent may bring up something that was seen as it applies to their day or play scheme. Together they may discuss, analysis, and relate the content to information that the child is learning or an extension of material already learned. 
So it's no accident that you enjoy these parodies perhaps even more than your child might! Now you have the perfect reason to put down that laundry and watch with your kids! 
Happy Viewing!
                                                             Research brought to you by....
Fender, J. G., Richert, R. A., Robb, M. B., & Wartella, E. (2010). Parent teaching focus and toddlers' learning from an infant DVD. Infant & Child Development, 19, 613-627.
Mendelsohn, A. L., Brockmeyer, C. A., Dreyer, B. P., Fierman, A. H., Berkule-Silberman, S. B., & Tomopoulos, S. (2010). Do verbal interactions with infants during electronic media exposure mitigate adverse impacts on their language development as toddlers? Infant & Child Development, 19, 577-593.
Takeuchi, L. & Stevens, R. (2011). The new coviewing: designing for learning through joint media engagement New York: Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. 
Zhao, J. & Hao, X. (2004). Parent-child co-viewing of television and cognitive development of the Chinese child. International Journal of Early Years Education, 12, 63-77.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Same old story?

I ran across this great quote which provided some good food for thought this Monday morning! How do you challenge your children and students?

“The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done — men who are creative, inventive, and discoverers. The second goal of education is to form minds which can be critical and cannot accept everything they are offered. The great danger today is of slogans, collective opinions, ready-made trends of thought. We have to be able to resist individually, to criticize, to distinguish between what is proven and what is not. So we need pupils who are active, who learn early to find out by themselves, partly by their own spontaneous activity and partly through material we set up for them; who learn early to tell what is verifiable and not what is simply the first idea to come to them.”
Piaget, “Development and Learning, 1964

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

WWW: Mr. Rogers was the BOMB!

Who doesn't remember growing up with Mr. Rogers? He was a right of childhood passage for many!  The red sweater and the inviting song welcoming everyone to the neighborhood was a staple in each episode!

Out on the world wide web today is a find that combines two of my favorite loves...knitting and those childhood memories! According to a yarn bomber has bombed his statue in Pittsburgh, PA styling him with his very own red sweater!

(Photo Source: via Reddit/

So what's Mr. Rogers up to these days? While he sadly passed away in 2003 at the age of 74, his legacy continues at the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media. Check out their blog with lots fantastic information!!

In fact Mr. Rogers had it right all along. According to audiology professor Ray Hull at Wichita State University, Mr. Rogers' rate of speech was just what children needed. According to Mr. Hull, the average adult speaks at almost 170 words per minute, while the average 5-7 year old only processes verbal speech at 120 words per minute. On average, Mr. Rogers spoke at 124 words per minute, contributing to his audience's sustained attention. So we can all do our kids a favor and slow down a little! 

What do you remember about Mr. Rogers?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Over the river and through the woods with Overdrive

After a long and busy spring I am back! Ready to hit the road so to speak, figuratively and literally! 

It may not be Thanksgiving I seem to do more traveling during the summer. Driving down country roads, over scenic river bridges, through the farmland and forests of our countrysides, and under the glow of picturesque sunrises and sunsets, I love having a chance to wonder, think, and relax. 

While I may have the luxury of reading as much as I would like during the school year, I find reading to be the quintessential summer activity. Think about it. When going to the beach, heading to the airport, or simply lounging on your favorite porch or chair, what do you always make sure to pack? A book!

We may read to pass the time, disappear into a adventure, relax or learn something new. As a child, I remember the excitement that came with reading the required number of books needed to get the little gold trophy from the library's summer reading program.

Technology provides some simple solutions to help us book worms, young and old, access our favorite books while on the road. 

 Overdrive App
Overdrive has become my new best friend this summer! It is the perfect way for me to access audio and e-books free from my local library. It is pretty simple to set up and many librarys offer detailed directions or on-site help to assist with setting Overdrive up on your device and connecting to the library. You will need your own library card first. Once you get going you can select, download, and start reading your favorite book wherever you maybe traveling. Just like checking out a hardback book from the library, you have two weeks to read or listen to your book before the book is returned to the library and removed from your device. Overdrive also lets you manage your library account including adding your name to the waiting list for a book and noting your favorite finds on a wish list. My favorite feature is the "bookmark" that helps you ensure that you will never lose your spot! Selections of children, young adult, and adult books varies by local library. 

The New York Public Library put together a research brief detailing the importance of summer reading, which is well worth the time to read! In order for children to read more, they must first have access to reading materials. Visiting the library during the summer maybe an option for some children but others may not have a physical library or book store nearby. For those with internet access there are several good sites. Some of which also provide a summer reading program for parents to utilize.

(Photo credit: Scholastic Books)

Scholastic has taken a whole new approach to summer reading! It's not how many books you read but rather how much time you spend reading setting a new world record. In 2011, Scholastic reports that their readers read 64,213,141 minutes rising to 95,859,491 minutes in 2012. So far, students this year have already read 85,928,298 minutes and it is only the end of June! Join their challenge and see if your children can help read around the world and then head towards the moon!

(Photo credit: WeGiveBooks. org) helps provide access to children's e-books online! This summer they are doing their part to help kids fight summer brain drain with a customized online summer reading program. Each week they share three children's books from their online library complete with additional activities and information to help the books come to life at home! Books are organized into three distinct age ranges: 0-3, 4-7, and 8-10, with summer collections for each age group. To help you stay on track, it is easy to sign up to be emailed when new books are added each week. At the end of the summer, celebrate your child's accomplishment by creating a customized reading certificate!

May reading take you on exciting adventures this summer whether traveling or relaxing at home!
It's an adventure worth sharing with those around you, regardless of their age.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Got JME? If not, you need some!

The hustle and bustle of the holidays has passed and hopefully you're starting to settle back into the routine of things. If you didn't already have one, I'm sure a tablet or mobile device has appeared on your radar - either through you, someone in your family, friends, the workplace, or your students. 

If you haven't heard of Joint Media Engagement, then the following is just for you! 

Photo Credit:
Last year, while investigating more meaningful ways to use my new iPad in therapy, I ran across some great information via the Joan Ganz Cooney center about Joint Media Engagement. They have a whole PDF handout on JME

What is JME? Basically, it's how people learn together using technology!! While it maybe a simple concept to implement, it's not always the first thing that teachers, therapist, and parents think about when using technology. Many times technology becomes a reinforcing activity or a babysitter. Whether you realize it or not, you've probably used JME already. JME can be used with ALL ages from preschool to adults!

Joint Media Engagement is a term that is developing in it's own right. It will continue to evolve in the next few years, both from a research point of view as well as, hopefully, in practice. 

Photo credit:

There are 7 key features of Joint Media Engagement...
(Stevens, R., & Penuel, W.R. (2010). Studying and fostering learning through joint media engagement. Paper presented at the Principal Investigators Meeting of the National Science Foundation's Science of Learning Centers, Arlington, VA.)

Here is a quick introduction of JME! It is a simple concept even though it looks a little cumbersome listed here on the computer. If you're interested in what this is all about, then you've found the right place. I think we can't even talk about good technology usage without including JME. So without further adieu...

All of these components support meaningful learning - in a way that relates the content presented to the experiences in the learner's life.

1. At least two people must participate  

2. There must be at least one medium or content delivery system (a computer, tablet, app, etc)

3. There must be a common referent or focal point (participants are focus on the same media presentation)

4. At least partial attention is given to the medium

5. At least partial attention is given to the other participants

(The participants are shifting their attention between the media source and the other participants)

6. Interaction occurs between the participants (it's what they are doing together - conversing, taking turns, or playing a game, etc.)

7. Engagement occurs between the participants (it's what they are doing with the media source - watching, playing, reading, creating, surfing, etc.)

Why is Joint Media Engagement important?

1. Portable devices are designed specifically for INDIVIDUAL rather than JOINT attention. Therefore,   joint engagement with these devices must be deliberately fostered!! 

2. Students benefit the most from screen media when a more capable individual mediates the experience with them.
(Thakkar, R. R., Garrison, M. M., & Christakis, D. A. (2006). A Systematic Review for the Effects of Television Viewing by Infants and Preschoolers. Pediatrics, 118, 2025-2031)

3. We must teach students to have media literacy skills in order to be successful in today's media rich environment. These skills include critical thinking skills, oral and written communication skills, problem solving skills, collaboration, locating and accessing quality information, and media literacy skills. 
(Barron, B., Bofferding, L., Cayton-Hodges, G., Coople, C., Darling-Hammond, L., & Levine, M.H. (2001). Take a giant step: A blueprint for teaching young children in a digital age New York: Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.)

Now that you know about JME, are you using it?  If you're not sure, check back in as more is to come...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The E-Readers Among Us

E-book readers and tablets seem every where these days. Perhaps it's because of the holiday shopping season or the fact that 3 of my preschoolers told me last month that they had their own Kindles (not to be confused with those that their moms use!)

I've enjoyed reading a few books on my tablet but other books seem to lend themselves better to paper copies. I guess it depends on the reader and the book on hand.

I was surprised to find an article in the paper the other morning that provided some simple numbers on just how many of us are using tablet devices. According to a study released last week by the Pew Internet and American Life Project in the Houston Chronicle, 23 percent of Americans read e-books, compared with only 16 percent the year before. Comparatively, Americans who read print books fell from 72 percent down to 67 percent.

The survey showed that one-third of the US population owned a e-reading device, with tablets being more popular than e-readers such as the Nook or Kindle.
- 33% of Americans own either a tablet or e-reader device
- 25% of Americans own an e-book reader
- 19% of Americans own a table

It's easy to feel like everyone is using a tablet or e-reader because of all of the talk, reviews, commercials, and app reviews. After the holiday shopping season, it's nice to keep some perspective in order to best serve the families that we work with, their needs and technological experiences. It's easy to confuse perception and reality, but more on that later.

While we all may have resolutions to be less stressed and read more, their study also pointed out that the average American, age 16 years and older, read on average only 6 books a year, regardless of the book's format!

So read more, regardless if it's a paperback, e-book, or even audio book!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Remember Frank...

Remember Frank from "You've Got Mail"?

(Photo Credit: via

You know... The guy convinced that "the end of western civilization as we know it" was near. Who begged the question to Meg Ryan's Kathleen Kelly, "Name me one thing that we have gained from technology?"

You know... "that nut from the Observer... Frank something or other, the one that is so in love with his typewriter".  Specifically, the Olympia Report Deluxe Electric that embodies "the gentle soothing lullaby of a piece of machinery so perfect". 

You remember... the guy advocating that that the whole premise behind the VCR recorder is "that it makes it possible for you to tape what's on television when you leave the house. Of course the whole idea behind leaving the house is so you can miss what's on television."

(Of course, now we have DVR, YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, and even watching television shows and movies on our phone wherever we go!)

While everyone was jumping into the world of dial-up internet (remember the piano pang?) and the discovery of the chat room, Frank was the protagonist constantly reminding us "that you think this machine is your friend, but it's not!". 

If Frank only knew how different things would be in 2013! Poor Frank, I'm afraid you're doomed! Although we are still sending cosmic questions out into the void!

In closing...Thank Your!

What do you remember of "the old days"?