Powerful Letter to Teachers


Newtown Commemorates One Month Anniversary Of Elementary School MassacreAs educators, it’s our sworn obligation to comfort, educate, and protect young minds. As the new school year began, we never forget the awful tragedy that happened in Sandy Hook Elementary school.

This mother wrote a powerful letter addressing all teachers. Her letter, which was posted on the Education Week website is powerful, and gut-wrenching, and encouraging all in one. Read it after the jump.

As another school year begins and old routines settle back into place, I wanted to share my story in honor of the teachers everywhere who care for our children.

I lost my 6-year-old daughter Ana Grace on Dec. 14, 2012, in the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School. My son, who was in the building and heard the shooting, survived.Newtown Commemorates One Month Anniversary Of Elementary School Massacre

While waiting in the firehouse that day to hear the official news that our daughter was dead, my husband and I made promises to ourselves, to each other, and to our son. We promised to face the future with courage, faith, and love.

As teachers and school employees begin this new year, my wish for you is that same courage, faith, and love.

It takes guts to be a teacher. Six brave women gave their lives trying to protect their students at Sandy Hook. Other teachers were forced to run from the building, stepping over the bodies of their friends and colleagues, and they came right back to work.

When I asked my son’s teacher why she returned, she responded, “Because they are my kids. And my students need me now more than ever.” She sent daily updates on my son’s progress, from his behavior to what he’d eaten for lunch. And four months later, when my son finally smiled one day after school, I asked him about it. His response? “Mom. My teacher is so funny. I had an epic day.”

While I pray you will never find yourself in the position of the teachers at Sandy Hook, your courage will support students like my son, who have lived through traumas no child should have to.

Your courage will support students who are left out and overlooked, like the isolated young man who killed my daughter. At some point he was a young, impressionable student, often sitting all alone at school. You will have kids facing long odds for whom your smile, your encouraging word, and your willingness to go the extra mile will provide the comfort and security they need to try again tomorrow.

When you Google “hero,” there should be a picture of a principal, a school lunch worker, a custodian, a reading specialist, a teacher, or a bus monitor. Real heroes don’t wear capes. They work in America’s schools.

Being courageous requires faith. It took faith to go back to work at Sandy Hook after the shooting. Nobody had the answers or knew what would come tomorrow, but they just kept going. Every opportunity you have to create welcoming environments in our schools where parents and students feel connected counts.

Have faith that your hard work is having a profound impact on your students. Of the 15,000 personal letters I received after the shooting, only one stays at my bedside. It’s from my high school English teacher, Robert Buckley.

But you can’t be courageous or step out on faith without a deep love for what you do.

Parents are sending their precious children to you this fall. Some will come fully prepared, and others not. They will come fed and with empty bellies. They will come from intact homes and fractured ones. Love them all.

When my son returned to school in January, I thought I was going to lose my mind. Imagine the difficulty in sending your surviving child into a classroom when you lost your baby in a school shooting. We sent him because we didn’t want him to be afraid.

 We sent him because we wanted him to understand that while our lives would never be the same, our lives still needed to move forward.

According to the 2011-12 National Survey of Children’s Health, nearly half of America’s children will have suffered at least one childhood trauma before the age of 18. They need your love.

A few weeks before the shooting, Ana Grace and I shared a special morning. Lunches were packed and clothes were picked out the night before, so we had extra time to snuggle. And while I lay in bed with my beautiful caramel princess, she sensed that I was distracted and asked, “What’s the matter, Mom?” I remember saying to her, “Nothing, baby. It’s just work.” She looked at me for a very long time with a thoughtful stare, then she told me, “Don’t let them suck your fun circuits dry, Mom.”

As you begin this school year, remember Ana Grace. Walk with courage, with faith, and with love. And don’t let them suck your fun circuits dry.

Having fun Outside – in the Dark


15-Ways--DarkWhen we were younger, we loved playing outside! In today’s society, we should still love to play outside even if the sun did go down! Here are 15 ways in which you have a thrilling time at night!
  1. Flashlights are fun! Give the kids flashlights and take a look around. Much fun can be had by simply exploring with a flashlight. What looks different at night?
  2. Flashlight tag. Tag players using the beam of light, or simply play tag with flashlights to guide the way.
  3. Flashlight limbo. How low can you go? Two people, holding flashlights, face each other and make a steady beam of light for others to limbo under.
  4. Catch the light. Shine the light around and allow your child / children to “chase” the light as it shines on an object or surface. As they’re about to “catch it” simply move it again!
  5. Catching shadows. You can have a lot of fun just by simply chasing your shadow. If you have a porch light that shines out towards your backyard, you’re set for chasing your shadow!
  6. Shadow puppets. Shine a light onto the side of your house or fence to set the stage for an evening of puppet shows.
  7. Catch lightening bugs.
  8. Put a spin on some classic games. How much fun is “Red Light, Green Light” or “Duck, Duck, Goose” in the dark? Lots, actually.
  9. Glow in the dark dancing. Put on shows for one another, or simply rock out with glow sticks.
  10. Hide and seek with glow sticks. One person hides a glow stick and then all of the others try to find it. The person that finds it first gets to hide it again.
  11. Hunt for glow sticks. Hide a bunch of glow sticks all throughout the yard and let the kids hunt for them.
  12. Flashlight hunt. One player hides an object, like a rubber duck, and the others try to find it using their flashlights.
  13. Build a campfire. Listen to music. Play cards. Cuddle. Make s’mores.
  14. Tell spooky stories. But maybe not too spooky.
  15. Tell stories with constellations. Show your children a few constellations and then ask them if they can find any pictures in the stars. Ask them to tell you more about the object they see. Can they make up a story about it? Can you?

Thanks for these awesome tips Joyce from Childhood Beckons!

Halton Hills Childcare Centre


Halton Hill Childcare Centre

Halton Hill Child Care Centre

For the purpose of this posting, I’ll be critiquing a Child Care centre’s website.

Halton Hills Child Care centre is a non-profit organization which offers full and part time childcare services to children who are 6 months to 12 years old and they are currently located in Georgetown. Halton Hills Child Care Centre’s philosophy states,

“Here are Halton Hills Child Care Centre, our goal is to provide a safe, clean, nurturing environment where all the children can learn, have fun, and grow to their fullest potential” (HH Childcare, 2012).

Halton Hills Child Care Centre

Halton Hills Child Care Centre

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Navigation

When you first enter their website, you get bombarded with clashing colours, limited image depictions, poorly placed flash banner, and a white border around the navigational menu which either means it’s meant to be like that or it’s poorly sliced using Photoshop.

Although there are some negatives, it’s very good that the website is cross-browser compatible. Heidi and Sylvie are both support staff for the centre but also can be contacted through their website by heading over to: Staff –> Support Staff.

The site is very straightforward and simple that is good for a lot of visitors who like simplicity. The site has over 5 navigational menus which may be an issue to certain people because there is psychology background information regarding having over 5 navigational menus,

“One thing to remember:  the human brain sees five or less items as a single group, but when it encounters  more than five items, it breaks them down into “subgroups”  to process them” (Tuck M., 2003).

With this in mind, visitors who come to this site must find their way around the site easily,

Screen Shot 2012-12-06 at 11.59.05 PM

Drop-Down navigation

“Everyone needs to be able to find their way around your site with ease. The choices you make in providing navigational  assistance on your site will often make the difference between a site that users frequent, and frequently  use, and a site that gets visited once and promptly forgotten” (Tuck M., 2003).

Since the organization is non-profit, their website isn’t really appealing and attractive compared to if you were to go to some for-profit organization websites, however, just because the site doesn’t look good doesn’t mean their programs and curriculum is awful. There are a lot of for-profit centres where their websites may look very appealing but when it came to their programs and curriculum, it lacked. So, don’t let the websites fool you.

References

HH Childcare (2012). Halton Hills Child Care Centre: Home. Retrieved from http://www.hhchildcare.ca

Tuck, M. (2003). Practical Web Design – Fundamentals of Web Design. Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pCB8wo2_gyOd0zPToEiaXmtitazSm5Auz973s2MsRAs/edit

Motion Math: Hungry Fish


Hungry-Fish

Motion Math: Hungry Fish

Motion Math: Hungry Fish is a software that is developed for iOS devices such as iPhones, iPads, the New iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch. It focuses on getting children excited to learn math in a whole new different way; by playing!

mmg-logo

Motion Math

“Your fish is hungry – hungry for numbers! This fun addition and subtraction game for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch has instant addition: touch two numbers together to instantly add. Most addition games teach in the form 3 + 4 = __; Hungry Fish challenges players to find different ways to make a 7 (1+6, 2+5, 3+2+2, etc.). There’s 18 levels of challenge (for 4-year-olds to adults) and bonuses to customize your fish with new colors and fins. Play this wonderful game with your students, family, and friends” (Motion Math, 2012).

Software Overview

Motion-Math-Hungry-Fish

Fish eating bubbles

I’ve chosen to evaluate this software because I love finding new ways on how to learn simply just by playing! When I looked at this software on the iTunes page, I figured it could be a fun and exciting game to get children to learn math at such a young age.  This software offered opportunities for practice and review. For instance, the child can practice as many times as he/she wants to by adding the numbers to match the one shown on this fish and then, by ‘feeding’ the fish in order to progress. It will allow the child to learn what number he/she will get when they combine two different numbers.

The child can review his/her own endeavour and review their points or levels that they achieve at the end of the game. I also enjoyed the graphics the software had to offer children. The 2D components consist of the words, title, the actual fish, and the various images given throughout the software. The 3D components consist of the corals, tube corals spitting out the bubbles, and the background images in the different levels. There are a lot of animations throughout the software such as the fins of the fish moving, the tube corals,

mzl.kwjhdehz.320x480-75glowing bubbles, corals moving as they spit the bubbles out, the eye of the fish and fish move, fish growing as it gets fed, fish shrinks when it doesn’t, and the sunlight shining through the water (glowing and dimming). In addition to these components, the software also has practice for children including the tutorial phase, but also in the standard levels. Within the standard levels, as soon as you lose, you get a message that pops up, “Uh-oh. Your fish needed more food. You earned 0 points!” and under the sentences, there is a circle that is an arrow and once you hit it, you restart the level. No matter the amount of times you lose in a level, there is always this hypermedia that will allow the child to begin the level again.

Software Recommendations & Limitations

motionmathhungryfish4

Hungry Fish

While playing the game, I’ve observed, experimented, and explored the game, and began writing down different recommendations to help improve the software; these recommendations are based from what I’ve seen and our personal experience with the software. Firstly, the graphics in the software are nice and vibrant, however, it could use more “real” colours or sea creatures. Such colours can be actual colour seen in the ocean to give the software a more “realistic” approach or life like sea urchins because the game doesn’t only focus on math, but your game also makes children learn about the environment in which fish live in. When it comes to the corals, you can provide some actual texture and pattern on

Customizing your Fish

Customizing your Fish

them rather than just having a flat solid colour. Secondly, the gameplay gets more exciting when children are able to gain a “reward” after they complete the level that is then used to customize their fish. Although they reach the reward when they complete the level, it’s limited to that one reward whereas maybe you could add a variety of different other rewards so that children can stay interested in the game because children will lose interest when seeing the same reward. Finally, the free version is very limited to what children can actually do with the game. Even though you’re a company and need to make money, you can provide the addition and subtraction levels in the free version or you could provide different “themes” or “levels” in the addition stage where we can choose which ocean “theme” we want to play in; by doing so you are enabling children to have multiple choices which then

Coloured Hungry Fish

Coloured Hungry Fish

gets them more interested in the game. There is also no voice audio for children to establish a relationship between the number and the way it is said. This would be great for those who are four and are newly exposed to numbers. For example if the child selects the bubble five the software could use audio and state “Five” so they can hear it. Lastly, another recommendation to improve this software would be to place the equation on the fish instead of the answer, for example 2 + 2=  and the number four would float around in the bubble amongst other numbers. This could be a setting that children could set if they find it easier for them to find the correct answer which would encourage more children to take part in the game.

My classmates and I did this software evaluation together and we managed to do a ScreenCast about it as well.

With the evaluation on the software, my group and I contacted the developers from the software and we were excited to have gotten a reply back from them. Such a reply meant so much to us just knowing that they read our evaluation and responded back to us.

Notice: parts have been blurred out due to confidentiality purposes.

Email from CEO

References

Motion Math (2012). Motion Math: Hungry Fish. Retrieved from http://motionmathgames.com/motion-math-hungry-fish/