All About QR Codes

QR Code Parents

This QR code leads to a digital parenting wiki site that my colleagues and I created.

QR Codes. You’ve probably seen them around — on everything from cereal boxes to magazines to advertising banners on the bus or in the subway.

QR is short for quick resource code (QR code), the scannable geometric-looking design that connects a person via smartphone to digital information such as an e-mail site, a video, a website, or even a telephone number. QR codes are similar to bar codes, but the QR image contains far more encoded information — thousands of times more, in fact. Learn more about QR codes at the Common Craft video tutorial site.

A QR code is essentially a shortcut that leads to digitized information. It might be, for instance, at the end of a book chapter, linking the reader to more content on a topic, or on a billboard. It could link conference attendees to a workshop handout or schedule.      Continue reading

Grammar Support for the Student Writers in Your Family

Just about every day I have a grammar question, despite that in junior high school I was an ace at diagramming sentences. Most commonly I need to figure out how to punctuate something I have written. I search for an answer, and I want to remember the information — if possible — so that I can use it the next time the same question arises. Yes, I could consult The Elements of StyleOn Writing WellThe Chicago Manual of Style, or countless other good grammar books.


These days, however, when I am puzzling over a comma or a particular word, I almost always go online to find a podcast at Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty TipsI listen to the explanation, usually accompanied by music and amusing examples, and even days later I still remember the rule or the spelling or usage — even if the topic has not reappeared in my writing.

If you have not checked out the Grammar Girl podcasts, take some time to do so. They are great fun — two words that I never associated with sentence diagrams.

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Getting to Know Instagram: Getting Adults Up to Speed

In a matter of weeks last spring quite a few older elementary and younger middle school children whom I know jumped on the Instragram bandwagon, and they continue to have fun with it. The social networking photography app, now owned by Facebook, lives on their wireless devices, making it easy to use without getting encumbered with computers. Just a few days ago a colleague of mine commented, “Instagram is the new Facebook!”

instagramThe minimum age for the Instagram app is 13 (COPPA regulations), but that hasn’t stopped the site from attracting many children younger than that, often with their parents’ permission. While I tend to be someone who takes age requirements seriously, many parents, after checking out various apps, are more comfortable than I am with letting their kids use sites when they are younger than 13 years of age.

The biggest challenge for adults is keeping an eye on the content and quality of the photos that their children are uploading to Instagram and sharing all over the place. Problems can occur when children err in judgement as they make decisions about what to share (and what not to share). Common Sense Media’s Jim Steyer, author of Talking Back to Facebook, speaking at GDS this week, described it as “…responding first rather than reflecting.”

What do children like about Instagram? Well, it’s instant.

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How Can I Help My Child Become a Better Researcher?

researchwordphotoJust about any time of the school year students seek good quality information to use with assignments and projects. Unfortunately, most kids head right to a computer or portable device and fire up Google, despite that teachers and librarians devote substantial classroom time and energy  introducing students to curated online research resources.

To help children use higher quality information sources, we adults need to learn a bit more about online databases and share that information. At home, as often as possible, we should reinforce school lessons or create our own, reminding our children that while results from Google provide a vast number of links, many are of questionable quality and others are irrelevant. Although making judgements and decisions about the links that appear in the typical Google search are useful skills to develop, the time to fine tune these abilities is not when a child is working on an important report or project.

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Do We Confuse Privacy With Transparency? James Steyer-Articles and Books

Note:  This post is about Jim Steyer, the author and founder of Common Sense Media, who will speak at GDS on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, at the Lower-Middle School. His presentation begins at 7:00 P.M.

This image is borrowed form the book's webiste.

This image is borrowed form the book’s website.

Our digital society hasn’t figured out what to do about privacy. More importantly, it hasn’t figured what to do about the privacy of our kids — we keep confusing privacy with transparency. A recent book,Talking Back to Facebook, by James P. Stayer, addresses this confusion and tries to help adults make some sense of it.

It’s problematic enough that we adults are diving willy-nilly into the digital world, sharing lots of things, private and not so private, but now it’s also a world where everything a child does and almost every mistake he or she makes may also become public. These days we are giving children and adolescents no cover and no protection as they blithely explore the digital world while making what in any other era would be common and developmentally appropriate errors.