Focus on Back to School Routines

Formulas and Tables can't compete with SnapchatIt’s back to school time, and for most parents, that means re-establishing routines. Around bed times, around getting homework done, around outside play, around proper nutrition, around limiting screen time… It can seem overwhelming. So many things to consider!

One thing I’ve found is that having clear rules helps – as long as they are simple, and as long as there are not too many of them! As a digital educator, there are two aspects I’d focus on: Screen time, and what to encourage the child to “do online.” (more…)

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Duo your lingo up with Duolingo!

This is a longer version of the article submitted to SkeriesNews for their 21 April 2017 edition.

duolingo-10So you’re thinking about that summer holiday, as you would, this time of year. South of France maybe. Or Italy. Spain beckons. Or that city tour to Germany you’ve been promising yourself? Finally make it to Russia, see the Kremlin for yourself? You could probably get by with English there, but wouldn’t it be more fun to be able to understand and speak the lingo a bit?

Indeed it would, and there is an easy (and free!) way to prepare yourself for the linguistic challenge – in just 5 minutes a day!  (more…)

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Coding for All – Really?

For a numberSkerries News September 2016 of years, “coding” has been touted as the next big thing, the skill that our children will need in order to be part of the “smart economy” of the future; the skill that will make our youngsters rich and their parents proud, once they have created that million-dollar app. Coding clubs, so-called CoderDojos, for kids have sprung up all over the world; a number of countries have introduced programming into their curriculum, and in June of this year, the Minster for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, has asked the Irish National Council for Curriculum and Assessment to consider approaches to introducing the teaching of coding in primary schools. But is that really necessary? Is it even desirable?

As a former primary teacher (between 2010 and 2013, I worked in a number of North Dublin primary schools, both as resource and class teacher) and current “digital educator” (a term I may have made up myself, I’m not entirely sure), I can see both advantages and disadvantages of introducing every single child to programming. (more…)

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Learn it with Quizlet!

This column appeared in the 6 May 2016 edition of Skerries News.

Techie Column Header April 2016

Brushing up a language? Preparing for the Driving Licence Theory Test? Going on holidays, and you’d like to know the names of the most important sites to impress your pals who are going with you? Or even a Junior or Leaving Cert student with a list as long as your arm, of things that you ought to memorise, pronto?

Whatever your reason, there are many ways to learn facts, words, or numbers.

My favourite online place for this, and one I’ve recommended to anyone who would listen for long enough, is Quizlet. It’s a recommendation that my son brought home from school, and then promptly ignored. (He’s doing the Junior Cert this year.)
Life-long learning is one of the things I firmly believe in, and so I’m in the process of learning Spanish. Vocabulary doesn’t stick as much as I seem to remember it doing, so a different approach to just writing words down and hoping for the best was needed. So I went to Quizlet.com and created an account for myself.

(more…)

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