Punctuation Rules! is now a free iPad/iOS App!

pr_blog_videotutorialWe all know the feeling. Call it "punctuation despair." The sense that you're about to do something dreadfully wrong. Sartre might have called it "l'inquiétude de la virgule incertaine" ("the disquiet of the uncertain comma").

Your writing assignment is due, and you’re still not sure whether the semicolon in your carefully crafted opening sentence should be replaced by a colon. Or a comma. Or no mark at all. Or you need some quick and easy help for using a question mark: should it go inside or outside the quotation marks?

You've worked hard on this paper, and you don't want to tarnish your work with sloppy mechanics. Your punctuation rule book never has an example that quite matches the one you're trying to write.

What to do?

The new iOS app addresses the nine essential punctuation marks

The new iOS app addresses the nine essential punctuation marks

Well, help has finally arrived. You can get just-in-time answers to these and many other questions with Punctuation Rules! It's now available for use on your iPad and iPhone.

You'll see all the features that have made Punctuation Rules! one of our most popular resources, and you'll find some enhancements:

  • Each of the 22 punctuation rules is now searchable, linkable, and launchable.
  • Instruction on each rule demonstrates the connection between punctuation and meaning.
  • Students provide specific words, phrases, and clauses to create sentences and punctuate them.
  • Because we use the same language parser as in Writing Reviser, students learn to punctuate their own sentences, rather than abstract examples in which they have no investment.
  • A new menu system helps accommodate smaller screens.
  • In Practice, an indicator is color-coded to show progress.
  • Also in Practice, correct and incorrect answers are accompanied by audio feedback.
  • Students complete short quizzes to check understanding.

We can't promise that Punctuation Rules! will allay all types of existential dread, but it's an ironclad cure for punctuation despair!

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SAS CodeSnaps: A New Way to Code!

Some people think that K-12 computer science requires a large budget, a classroom full of tablets and robots, and an experienced tech teacher. We are pleased to dispel those myths--and introduce you to SAS CodeSnaps!
cs_socialtile_imageCodeSnaps is a collaborative coding environment requiring only one iPad and one robot. The app takes advantage of tangible, printed coding blocks, allowing students to prepare programs together on a shared work surface without a device. After students scan the blocks with the app, commands can be executed on the connected robot (
compatible robots include Sphero, Ollie, SPRK, and SPRK+).

SAS CodeSnaps Features

All you need is one iPad and one compatible robot (Sphero, Ollie, SPRK, and SPRK+). After downloading the free app, you can expect the following:

  • Printable coding blocks perfect for student collaboration.
  • An interface for scanning code blocks into the app.
  • A digital coding space for fine-tuning scanned code or starting from scratch.
  • Optional cloud storage through your free SAS Curriculum Pathways account.
  • No internet required!

Try It Out

Looking for a fun coding lesson? Challenge students to work together in teams to navigate a Sphero robot through an obstacle course.

  1. Scanning CodeSnap blocks into the app.

    Scanning CodeSnaps blocks into the app.

    Download SAS CodeSnaps for free from the App Store.

  2. Print off the CodeSnaps blocks.
  3. Calibrate your robot using the SAS CodeSnaps app.
  4. Set up an obstacle course using materials in your classroom.
  5. Divide students into groups of three; assign each student one of three roles:
    • The Domain Expert devises the steps necessary to navigate the obstacle course.
    • The Lead Coder oversees code development, using information from the Domain Expert.
    • The Tester runs the robot through the course, noting any errors (also known as bugs).
  6. Ask the Domain Experts to measure the course and write down any additional requirements for successfully completing the course (e.g., changing colors, turning).

    Scanned CodeSnap blocks and digital coding space.

    Scanned CodeSnaps blocks and digital coding space.

  7. Under the direction of the Lead Coder, challenge groups to use their CodeSnaps blocks to write a program to navigate the robot through the course.
  8. Using the CodeSnaps app, scan the program.
  9. With supervision from the Tester, run the code and jot down any bugs.
  10. Have groups debug their code and try again!

Stay tuned for additional teacher materials and #HourofCode lesson plans coming soon!

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Active Reading and Primary-Source Analysis: Making (K-12) Civics Sizzle

Ok, all those STEM classes have cool calculations, coding, and climate change, but is there anything more exciting and relevant than teaching civics in a presidential election year?

Explore: Primary Sources offers a collection of over 200 text and audio resources that engage students in active reading. Here are just a few suggestions:

K-5 students can consider the historical context and answer online comprehension questions as they explore the patriotic images Emma Lazarus created in her poem "The New Colossus."

The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus (1883

"The New Colossus," by Emma Lazarus (1883).

Middle-school students can analyze the humility in Benjamin Franklin’s speech to the Constitutional Convention when he admits, “…there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but …having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions… The older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others.”

Benjamin Franklin’s speech to the Constitutional Convention (1878).

Benjamin Franklin’s speech to the Constitutional Convention (1878).

High-school students can assess the impact of the rapid-fire dialogue between two distinct dialects: a southern governor and a New England-born president. Temperatures rise as they discuss integration at Ole Miss in this 1962 Oval Office telephone conversation.

John F. Kennedy phone conversation (1962).

John F. Kennedy phone conversation (1962).

The National Center for History in Schools endorses the use of primary sources:

When we ask students to work with and learn from primary sources, we transform them into historians. Rather than passively receiving information from a teacher or textbook, students engage in the activities of historians — making sense of the stories, events, and ideas of the past through document analysis.

Too often students and teachers consider active, close reading an arduous task that technology cannot assist. Try a case-study approach to investigating key civics concepts. The resources in this Document Analysis series use an online tool to streamline the challenges of close reading. The tool prompts students to define unknown vocabulary, make comments on key passages within a text, and begin constructing arguments based on textual evidence.

The flipped classroom model also works well with these case studies. For example, to teach Freedom of Speech in Schools, you might do the following:

  • Assign background-movie tutorials as homework to teach the issues involved in the Tinker v. Des Moines Supreme Court case and introduce the case-study question, “Should students be allowed to wear t-shirts displaying the Confederate flag in school?”
  • Have students watch the videos at home, then come to class ready to read primary-source text passages with the online document analysis tool and get ready to debate the issues.
  • The flip allows the teacher to be an active coach for the more challenging steps of the learning process.
Freedom of Speech in School background video overview.

Freedom of Speech in School examines the history, issues, and documents of this landmark case.

Rollover tool tips define key terms and ideas.

Rollover tool tips define key terms and ideas.

Each of these primary source document lessons includes this video explaining document analysis.

An animated video tutorial helps students review key steps in document analysis.

Remember analyzing documents is not just for Advanced Placement courses. All civics students should practice reading and interpreting documents!

Check out additional no-cost online case study resources available for U.S. and world history classes here.

Document Analysis Series: U.S. History
Document Analysis Series: World History
Turning Points in U.S. History
Turning Points in World History

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Muggs the Dog: A Retrospective

farewelloldfriend
The SAS Curriculum Pathways team suffered a loss recently, as writer and editor Tim McBride’s American Staffordshire Terrier (Pit bull), Muggs passed away at the age of 10.

Now, many of us have pets and we don’t usually spend much time chronicling them here. But Muggs was different. Over the years he became the face of some of our more popular English Language Arts resources, particularly in our grammar tutorial series. Tim chronicled Muggs' role in this 2014 blog post, Pit-bull Guide to Powerful Prose.

As a sort of memorial for our missing friend, here are some of Muggs’ greatest hits.

 

 

 

So farewell Muggs, we shall not soon forget you - nor will school children everywhere.

You can view all of the grammar video series on SAS Curriculum Pathways - or on our Youtube Channel.

 

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Building a PBL: Earth's Atmosphere

Project-based learning (PBL) has received a lot of attention recently. It replaces traditional lectures with student-driven collaboration to solve a real-world problem and share that solution with an audience. Motivated to defend their own views, students draw on lessons from several disciplines. Many times, students surprise teachers with research materials and product ideas.

One challenge in constructing engaging project-based lessons is finding good online materials. So let's take a look at some free resources and tools that can help a science teacher creating a PBL on Earth's atmosphere.

The process

pblcreditThe Inquiry-Based Disciplinary Literacy (IDL) Model provides unique student-driven opportunities to solve authentic problems in a collaborative environment and incorporates the Buck Institute for Education Essential PBL elements.

These are the five phases of the IDL model:

  • Ask a compelling question.
  • Gather and analyze sources.
  • Creatively synthesize claims and evidence.
  • Critically evaluate and revise.
  • Share, publish, and act.

An example for middle or high school science

To begin, provide an online environment for sharing ideas and posting final products. Wiki Spaces is one of my favorites, but many great tools exist.

Many teachers introduce projects by writing the driving question. Others, set parameters and then let students decide for themselves. In this example, we’ll focus on changes in the atmosphere and climate. Many states have standards on this topic; it’s also part of the United Nations sustainable development goals.

To introduce the project, start with a call to action such as:

We will learn about the impacts of human activities on the environment. We'll also learn about the gases that cause of air pollution, how they cycle through the atmosphere, and their effects on ecosystems. You will work in teams to create a compelling question about the atmosphere and answer it through a project-based inquiry process. Select a topic using standards.

Be sure your question includes one or more of these topics:

  1. Compare the composition and structure of Earth’s atmosphere, including differences in gasses, temperature, and pressure. Explain how the cycling of matter and greenhouse gases impacts atmospheric conditions and weather patterns.
  2. Design new technologies or methods for monitoring the atmosphere, maintaining air quality, and minimizing the human impact on the environment and biodiversity. Explain how the cycling of matter has affected life on Earth.
  3. Provide evidence of global warming and compare natural and human activities that influence air quality and the impact of those changes. Propose sustainable solutions to reduce pollution.

Ask a compelling question
atmospherepdf

Teaching a group of students to write compelling questions can be the most challenging part of the process. The checklist below offers some guidance. Remind groups that they need your approval before moving to the next step.


Gather and analyze sources

Students gather background information to support their answers. They must decide about the credibility and relevance of information. Field trips to universities and farms offer real-world background information. It’s also a fun way to gather artifacts or take pictures for their final products. To better guide students and save time, you may provide trusted resources for students to explore.

SAS Curriculum Pathways offers standards-aligned lessons, interactive tools, a repository of data sets, and much more—at no cost.  Resources include lesson guides, learning objectives, answer keys, and detailed procedures.

Here's a quick list of SAS Curriculum Pathways resources that could be incorporated in a PBL lesson on the earth's athmospere:

The Amazon Rainforest explores how global warming effects the region.

The Amazon Rainforest explores how global warming effects the region.

English Language Arts
Writing Navigator Series

Science 
VLab: Carbon Cycle
VLab: Stream Ecology
Analyzing Carbon-Based & Alternative Fuels
The Water Cycle
Analyzing Commercial Fishing Catches
Natural Resources: Petroleum
Nuclear Power: The Pros & Cons
Earth's Geological & Biological History

Vlab: Carbon Cycle

VLab: Carbon Cycle explores how human activities affect the carbon cycle.

Social Studies
The Amazon Rainforest
OPEC Oil Embargo
Sahara Desert
Interactive Atlas

Math 
Data Gathering with Independent and Dependent Variables
Algebra Course: Graphing One-Variable Data
Algebra Course: Analyzing One-Variable Data
Algebra Course: Two-Variable Categorical Data
Algebra Course: Two-Variable Quantitative Data

Data Depot
Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Weather: Tornado Damage
Sea Turtle Nests
Bald Eagle Breeding Pairs
Bee Colony Losses
Threatened and Endangered Animals
Electromagnetic Exposure Standards
Methane Emissions
Nitrous Oxide Emissions
Weather: Coastal Flood Damage
Weather: Monthly Average Temperature

Data Depot provides over 150 data sets for student use.

Data Depot provides more than 150 downloadable, user-friendly data sets that enable students to work with real-world statistics.

 

Creatively synthesize claims and evidence

Students are now ready to clarify and interpret their findings and answer the compelling question in an original way. They demonstrate complex thinking by drawing inferences, summarizing, and making new connections. Final products could be videos, magazines, brochures, infographics, annotated maps, an essay or RAFT, a journal, or another form that achieves the objective.

This annotated map, created using the Interactive Atlas, contains the question, claim, supporting data, and conclusion.

atmospheremap

 

Critically evaluate, revise, share 

After completing the first draft, students begin revising—working alone, with each other and with experts (e.g., professionals in the community). Writing Reviser is a useful editing tool for written products.  Rubrics are also helpful; include categories such as purpose, synthesis, construction, curriculum connections, thesis, conclusion, and sources. Integration of technology, originality, and creativity are also important.

Have students publish and share their final products. Doing so, the Buck Institute for Education explains, increases quality. Engage students in face-to-face presentations; encourage online posting with a larger community. Here are a few tools for online classroom collaboration: Wikispaces, Google for Education, Buncee, and TES with blendspace. Invite feedback from teachers, classmates, parents, and professionals. Encourage students to share their learning beyond the classroom.

 

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Our favorite resources for teaching digital citizenship

It's Digital Citizenship Week (#DigCitWeek, #DigCit) and Connected Educators Month, so in today's post we're focusing on how connected educators can teach digital citizenship. (Phew, is that enough buzzwords for you?) One of the best resources for teachers is the internet. And with the increased prevalence of mobile devices in education, internet access is expanding. We know that "too many resources" can also be a problem, and there are more than enough helpful sites to guide Digital Citizenship lessons. Here are some of our (FREE) favorites:

  • Common Sense Media: This site has loads of content for all grade levels, from posters to music videos to a full curriculum of digital literacy lessons. This is a great place to start any digital citizenship lesson.
  • YouTube: To say that YouTube offers a plethora of video resources is a severe understatement, as it currently facilitates the viewing of 6 billion hours of video every month ("an hour for every person on Earth", their site notes). They also have YouTubeCurriculum, a channel that offers videos on staying safe on YouTube, guarding your reputation and staying legal on copyright issues, to name a few. YouTube is often victim to blanket bans in schools, as there are many not-safe-for-school videos on the site, so this digital citizenship lesson is definitely useful.
  • Pinterest: Curating your own board of resources is nothing new to teachers. Pinterest's social nature enables easier discovery of tried and true educational resources, and teachers can easily see pins of many thought leaders in the digital citizenship space. Searching Pinterest can lead to new lesson plans, websites, and ways to reach students. We've started a digital citizenship board. Do you have one? Let us know, and we'll follow you!
  • Edudemic: You'll find resources for teachers and students, almost all of them with a focus on keeping everyone legal, safe, and informed. There are many useful guides and blog posts we've found, and almost all of them highlight an aspect of digital citizenship.
  • Teachinctrl: Provided by Cable in the Classroom,  this site offers lesson-oriented information under several digital citizenship sub-topics (such as privacy and media literacy), each with a video and supporting lesson materials.

So what are your go-to resources for teaching digital citizenship? Which blogs, pinterest boards, twitter handles, and hashtags are most helpful to you? Comment, or Tweet @ us @SASEducator!

swimming pools

 

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Booming Enrollments and Gender Diversity in Computer Science

Computer Science is currently experiencing booming enrollments at the university level and increased interest throughout the pipeline. Several academic institutions have noted that CS enrollment has tripled or quadrupled in recent years. This type of computer-science boom has happened twice before--each time followed by a drop in enrollment.

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These enrollment cycles aren't necessarily bad. Total enrollment in CS continues to grow, and these cycles aren't unique to CS. However, one feature of these booms and busts is alarming: their impact on gender diversity. During each drop of total enrollment, the proportion of female students choosing to pursue CS degrees also drops. In other words,  women leave the field at a higher rate than men. During the late 1980s, for example, male enrollment dropped 35% whereas female enrollment dropped 53%. Similarly, in the early 2000s, male enrollment dropped 30%, compared to 56% for females.

To compound the inequity, enrollment booms do not seem to increase gender diversity. In fact, the proportion of females enrolled in CS remained steady throughout the last two booms, and data suggests that we may face the same scenario for this boom as well. So even when CS is popular, we are not attracting enough women to make up for previous reductions in diversity.

Why is this happening?

People interested in gender diversity want to understand these trends and prevent disparities in female enrollment during the current boom. Although the issue is complex, we can point to some key issues.

First, booming enrollments put significant stress on CS departments. Universities often don't have the faculty and staff to support all the new students who wish to enroll. Departments typically have a few choices. They can increase faculty and staff, which is often too expensive and time-consuming. They can increase the workloads of existing staff, which may lower faculty morale and educational quality. Or they can restrict access to CS programs. Often, universities end up doing a combination of all three, but it's the last that seems most harmful for diversity.

Some programs institute formal restrictions such as enrollment caps and more rigorous acceptance criteria. These practices can disproportionately harm female students since research has frequently shown that women with equal credentials are often viewed as less qualified for STEM positions than their male peers, especially in male-dominated fields. Enrollment caps can also increase perceptions of CS as too hard, competitive, and cutthroat, which may further discourage those female students who already doubt their abilities.

Departments may also place informal restrictions on access to CS by making introductory courses more difficult in the hope of "weeding out" students. Again, such restrictions more often harm female students, who tend to underrate their abilities even when their work equals or surpasses that of their male peers. Furthermore, women who preform well in STEM areas are also likely to perform well in the humanities, while the same does not necessarily hold true for men. Thus, women may have more options if they chose to leave CS compared to men.

Finally, how we brand CS may be an issue--both when recruiting students and restricting them. Historically, when a field needs more workers (a category that CS has fallen into recently) messaging tends to suggest that the work is easy, that "everyone can do it." The implicit or even explicit implication here is that "everyone, even women, can do it." When a field has reached its capacity and supply exceeds demand, the messaging shifts: the field is now branded as "elite," open to only for the most qualified workers. In addition, the field takes on a stereotypically masculine persona. We have seen this trend in CS: the media often depicts computer scientists as hyper-intelligent, though socially awkward, males. Current efforts to attract more interest for CS, especially from women, seem to be falling back into the trap of using language such as "anyone can do it." While this approach raises interest, it may ultimately harm efforts at diversity when CS students inevitably recognize that the field is both rewarding and challenging (i.e., more difficult than "it's so easy" implies).

What can we do?

First, we need to change our messaging. More specifically, we need to stop portraying CS as an easy field. Let's tell students, "computer science can be challenging, but it's a challenge you can meet. And if you do, there's a world of fun and opportunities on the other side."

We also need to look at the formal and informal practices universities use to handle booming enrollments. This is a complex issue: schools face capacity problems they can't ignore. But we can start collecting and analyzing data about policy changes and work to avoid those that reduce diversity. A quick course correction may keep more women engaged in CS as we ride out this next cycle.

These are just some of the ways we can keep history from repeating itself. We'll be discussing more solutions at our panel at this year's Grace Hopper Celebration. If you're attending, come check us out at 10:30 on Thursday, October 20.

 

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Using devices vs. Using devices to learn

notequal

A common fallacy in educational technology is the assumption that since kids know how to use phones better than their parents do, they also know how to use them to learn. Almost any educator can tell you this is not the case. Technology often wins in the battle for students' attention in the classroom, which has led to skepticism about the educational role of devices and the rise of "no cell phone zones."

However, we argue that banning technology is a disservice to today's students--those students who will be expected to use technology productively and efficiently in higher education and the workplace. Digital Media Specialist Mimi Ito notes, “We tend to see [mobile devices] as a distraction from learning because adults aren’t participating in [formalizing the process]… It’s a bit of a chicken or the egg problem. They’re not participating in shaping the kind of influence these devices [could have]. By embracing mobile devices in our classrooms, we empower students in the learning process.” 

Teaching digital citizenship, as opposed to avoiding the issue altogether, is the key to preparing our students for tomorrow's expectations and creating the difference between using devices and using devices for learning.

The fact is this: students are using and will continue to use mobile devices, which begs the question:  If they’re using their mobile devices anyway, why not encourage and teach productivity and responsible use? Instead of fighting against the educational technology movement, we suggest proctoring and monitoring the use of mobile devices, bringing them out of the backpack and, more importantly, above the desk. By restricting the use of technology in schools or categorically blocking certain websites, we are missing two valuable teaching points: 1) the responsible use of mobile devices and 2) the power of mobile devices for productivity, engagement, and higher-order thinking--all of which have been identified as beneficial outcomes of educational technology.

Above the Desk

With respect to the first, students use mobile devices outside of the classroom and this use is rarely monitored; therefore, by ignoring mobile devices in the classroom, students are not learning the potential dangers of their actions. Through technology programs, students can also learn when, where, and why mobile devices are appropriate--discovering how to use them for productivity, knowledge, and academic communication, not simply for informal communication and games.  Class discussions can develop on unfavorable outcomes, which can ultimately lead to smarter use of technology and fewer security issues as students internalize the principles for what is appropriate to share and how to make those decisions independently. Responsible digital citizens also exercise better judgment about sharing on social media sites, reading privacy statements, and evaluating the security and validity of websites.

As far as educational benefits, the use of technology in the classroom has had significant impacts on students' learning and performance. In interviews with classroom teachers, we often hear, "There's just something about technology that engages students." For example, John Silverthorn, an elementary school teacher, notes his students seem “more intrinsically motivated” when they use devices in class, empowered by seeing the connections between the material they’re currently studying and other things they’ve learned or connections to their non-academic lives. More rigorous research studies complement these anecdotes, citing technology for increased collaboration, interest, engagement, productivity, and teacher creativity.

For those of your thinking, "yeah, this sounds good in theory," consider these experiences from educational technology veterans. Leaders from Forsyth County Schools in Georgia state, “We have noticed that disciplinary issues regarding technology have been down since the implementation of BYOT [Bring Your Own Technology]. It is surprising in some ways how normal it seems with the devices in the school.” Similarly, teachers at Oak Hill Local School District find, “students text less in class when they have the opportunity to text their friends in the hall.” When it does occur, off-task and inappropriate use provide a great opportunity to teach students the difference between the use of mobile in professional and casual settings. Finally, Educational Technology Specialist Michelle Bourgeois found that “once devices were in the hands of teachers and students there was far more potential for creativity and student empowerment than district officials had imagined. The district has been working to get out of the way of that generative energy.”

Teaching digital citizenship is a necessary companion to any educational technology initiative. While there are certainly many things to be wary of in the digital age, there are also many useful and robust resources that can help students. With digital citizenship, it's imperative that teachers begin with the intention of turning their students' smart phone and technology skills into productive learning skills--and understand the difference between using devices and using them to learn.

 

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Why Digital Citizenship Matters

It’s Digital Citizenship Week! This week we will be featuring a series of blog posts on the topic of digital citizenship, and we want to hear from you. Please comment, interact with us on Twitter (@SASEducator) and Facebook , to tell us what is working in your classroom and your home.

digitalcitwk1When schools make the move to include mobile devices in their classrooms, there are necessary logistical changes – increased infrastructure, professional development for teachers and policies surrounding how the devices can be used and maintained, to name a few. A major philosophical area for schools to include in these changes is digital citizenship. Students have high levels of smartphone and tablet ownership and access, and they seem to know what they’re doing with mobile devices. But does that mean they know how to handle themselves responsibly in regards to privacy, judgment, social interactions and balancing the real world with screen time? This delineation between digital fluency (using a device), and digital literacy (responsible, productive interactions with the technology) is what's at issue here. All of these issues, which didn’t exist 10 years ago in the formal classroom setting, are encompassed under digital citizenship and should be explicitly discussed.

Just as schools teach students to be good citizens of the world – arming them with knowledge so they can go to college, get a job and understand their responsibility to society – the imperative for teaching digital citizenship becomes greater and greater as mobile devices become more prevalent. Teaching kids to remain safe and secure on the internet, to understand the impact of actions online, and to communicate responsibly – these are just a few of the vital topics under the digital citizenship umbrella.

Common Sense Media has been the pioneer in providing guidance and resources on digital citizenship, and they offer eight guiding categories. These will guide our posts through Digital Citizenship Week on this blog: 

  • Internet Safety
  • Privacy and Security
  • Relationships and Communication
  • Cyberbullying
  • Digital Footprint and Reputation
  • Self-Image and Identity
  • Information Literacy
  • Creative Credit and Copyright

These categories guide and categorize the resources available on Common Sense Media’s website, but serve as a good mental model of all of the areas for development in today’s children. As teachers and parents are figuring out how to keep their private data secure and how to interact responsibly with friends and colleagues, students are figuring out the same things, only with much less knowledge of the world and digital fluency. It is, therefore, hugely important to formally educate students on how to use their mobile devices productively and ensure their online actions today do not ruin their future opportunities.

What does your school do to teach students about digital citizenship when they use computers and mobile devices? What do you wish they did? Have your students take the Digital Citizenship pledge today!

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Need Data Sets? Look No Further!

datadepot14Data--that small four-letter word packs a mighty punch! Data is everywhere. Stores use it to determine how to advertise products, politicians use it to support their campaigns, and Google uses it to improve the search engine that may have brought you to this blog! Data is displayed in newspapers, brochures, billboards, as well as on television and the internet.

Faced with a deluge of data, students should understand how it shapes the decisions of others and how to assess and employ it to make their own decisions. In 2014, Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s VP of communications, stressed the importance of studying statistics “because the ability to understand data [will] be the most powerful skill in the twenty-first century.” Analyzing, comparing, interpreting, and explaining data are all key skills. A statistically literate student must be able to think critically about data, understand the context in which it appears, and analyze it to answer questions or solve problems.

But how do you get students interested in statistics? Using real-world data can be the key. That's where Data Depot comes in.

Data Depot (QL #3001) is a repository of 150+ data sources. By using our new search and filter capabilities, you can easily find the perfect data set for your students.

datadepot10

Filters make it easy to search Data Depot for data sets relevant to your course and students.

Looking for a data set as you discuss the importance of nutrition during National Health Education Week? Simply search "nutrition," and students can compare the facts for the 20 most frequently consumed raw fruits, raw vegetables, and seafood items in the United States.

datadepot11

Using search terms can help you find specific data sets.

Need data for your second grade students? Using the filter options, select K-5 and choose from 16 data sets--each available in multiple file formats. Working with spreadsheets? No problem. Need comma-separated values? Look no further. You'll also find SAS and JMP formats for SAS software. And the original source is available for further investigation.

datadepot12

Each data set is available in multiple formats.

A number of our data sets are accompanied by lessons from SAS Curriculum Pathways. These guide students through the process of analyzing a data set and creating graphs. For example, in the lesson M&M’s: Are the colors evenly distributed? students use data on fun packs to create bar graphs and pie charts and to calculate percentages.

datadepot13

Some data sets have associated resources.

SAS Curriculum Pathways provides nearly 500 math resources, including many that support middle school statistics. Check them out today!

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