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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

teens and tech

The innovative age of technology continues to inspire youth, both teenagers and children. This technology, however, may be causing serious health problems across young generations as well.

And teenagers are embracing technology more than any other age demographic. According to statistics portal Statista, smartphone users between the ages of 18 and 24 spend over 90 hours per month on apps. Some would even argue technology has become an addiction among teenagers and children.

It may even be shrinking the brains of youth. Astudy published in academic journal PLoS ONE (2011) found that Internet addiction might result in brain alterations and chronic mental dysfunction.

Could innovative devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets beharming the health of teenagers and children? From text neck to hearing loss, technology may not be so innovative after all. 

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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens
pokemon go2
Disclaimer: Before you think I'm jumping on the bandwagon, I'm not.  This is intended to be used as another tool in the shed of an educator that connects to today's learner. 
imgresimage credit: pokemongo.com

History does indeed come full circle. Pokemon is back in the news. When I first heard it over the weekend, I thought I was hearing things. Pokemon?? For real?!

Not even a week ago at this point, Ninentndo introduced a new app called "Pokemon Go" that has swept a country by storm.  Five days into its' release, it's scheduled to have more downloads and users than Twitter. You read that right; more users than twitter in five days. 

Why? Sheer nostalgia meets a game that one can play with ease.

The goal of the game? Capture Pokemon creatures. Get Points. Get ranked. The epitome of gamification.

                                           image credit: pokemonfanatics.com

As mentioned earlier, this has become such a hit that it recently crashed a server because too many people were using it.  It also has received a ridiculous amount of press in a very short time, with not all of it being good.

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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens


A fictional piece about ...

Tonight she was ahead of schedule. Soccer practice lasted a little longer than usual. But she was able to shower and eat dinner by 8. This gave her four hours to finsih her homework and study for the three AP exams she had the next day.

Her alarm went off at 6 am and she made the bus by 6:30. She always ate breakfast on the run. But that wasn’t a big deal. Just once though, she would love to just sit and eat breakfast at the table. She can’t remember the last time eating her breakfast required using a utensil.

Taylor aced the AP tests and had a goal and an assist in her game after school. She was currently on track to be the valedictorian and break the school record for goals scored in a career. Everything was working out just as she had planned. If she kept this up she would definitely be going to the Ivy League school of her choice. She hadn’t decided yet. But she was leaning towards Yale.

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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

stencil.twitter post 67

Education is the place to be.  Where else does one have the ability to inspire a group of young, malleable minds to reach beyond their wildest dreams and mold a future that holds endless possibilities?  That is certainly a tall order for 180 days. 

As the year winds down, how do we keep the shiny determination and resilience of the first day of school?  It seems like just yesterday the smell of wax permeated our nostrils as we excitedly sharpened a bouquet of bright yellow pencils.  Their shavings falling to the ground like confetti on a parade route.  Flash forward to today.  The wax is just as worn as our patience.  The fresh, flowery spring air activates a hormonal switch that now only knows one position: on.  In middle school winter pants have become spring bermudas (literally) and flip flops are all the rage because shoes do not fit anymore.  One last item: it's testing season.  All pre-service teachers should complete a practicum entitled, "Hormonal Spring: The Dawn of the Teenage".  Please, don't confuse this with a horror movie, new graphic video game, or water training for the Navy Seals.  For those of us who have endured it for several years, learning to surf is your best option. 

Hello SummerWhat do I mean by this?  Show up each day in your Volkswagen van (because that's how they see us), throw the door open and put on the best show possible.  Fill it with excitement, energy, and fire.  Literally, fill it with fire.  Creating a fireball in class will have them eating out of your hands.  It also really gets their attention.  They like to stare at bright shiny things.  For those concerned about the fire code:  I get it.  The chief and I are on a first name basis.  Stick to your comfort zone and put on the best show your nerves will allow.

My point?  Bring your "A" game until the last day of school.  Take every moment you have to stretch their minds and push them out of their comfort zones.  Disney and Universal are not paying us to show their movies until the end of the year.  Invoke a little Genius Hour time or set up a Makerspace.  When students pursue their own interests, the results are often powerful.  Plan a mini field trip around your campus or turn your room into a tropical island.  Use devices to go on a virtual field trip or mystery Skype with another class.

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Tagged in: active learning

Posted by on in Teens and Tweens



It’s a disgustingly hot and humid September afternoon at Palmer Trinity School in Palmetto Bay, Florida, where I teach history and coach varsity cross country. The weather doesn’t deter one of my top runners—an eighth grader who runs 3.1 miles in 18:36 minutes—from giving everything his has on his last four-mile repeat. As he makes the final turn and sweat beads off his grit-determined face, I yell one simple command—“Enjoy the pain.”

To become stronger and faster, pain is necessary. Muscles must be broken down and rebuilt in response to heightened physical demand. Capillary capacity must improve to ease the flow of oxygen into cells. Bones must become denser and the heart stronger, more efficient. Only through experiencing this process, however painful, can runners hope to reach their fullest potential.

As I read Dr. Wendy Mogel’s most recent book, The Blessings of a B Minus: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Resilient Teenagers, I consider a more profound idea. Outside of running, adolescents must experience pain to blossom into healthy-functioning adults.

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