S.

Storytelling Three Ways

1 Storybird

Collaborative storytelling; short, art-inspired stories you make to share, read, and print. Create your own story at www.storybird.com!

2 Smories

A continuous flow of new stories, read aloud by kids. Listen to and submit “smories” at www.smories.com

3 36pages

36 isn’t very many pages—unless you make picture books. Get inspired by Craig Frazier’s reviews at www.36pages.com

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H.

How to Do Research for Kids

In libraries and on the internet, you can find answers to almost any question you can think of. If you know how to do research, it can be much more fun… and faster too!

This is a very good, board game like online-introduction on how to do research for kids. The award-winning site site was created in 2003 by the Kentucky Virtual Library Kids and Teachers Workgroup, with design and animation by Shere Chamness. Thanks to its clever focus on the essentials of research (plan, search, take notes, use the information, report, evaluate), it is still extremely helpful. Nevertheless, I was wondering if there is any newer version of something like this out there “in the known universe”? I should do some additional research, but now I know exactly how to do.

www.kyvl.org
Realart

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S.

Storytelling for Digital Natives

Smorytellers - www.smories.com
Smorytellers - www.smories.com

Smories are free original stories for kids, read by kids. 50 smories are added every month. Two London-based illustrator/writers Lisa Swerling and Ralph Lazar got the idea for smories.com during a long journey in a dirty Land Rover from the Kalahari desert in Botswana to Cape Town in South Africa.

Their daughter (8) had the idea to film herself with an ipod reading short stories, and then play them back to her younger sister (6). This kept the kids entertained for hours and inspired their parents to create smories. Thank you for this great idea!

Smories is a free online resource for kids and a nice and simple alternative to sites like youtube where young viewers can easily click away to unknown destinations. But smories is also a new platform for children’s story writers, where they are freed from the usual constraints of having to illustrate their story to have a shot at publication. At Smories.com writers can get their work published online, retaining all rights.

Storytelling when coffee-house and Starbucks weren't synonyms
Storytelling when the coffee-house wasn't Starbucks yet.

(Thank you swissmiss and smories)

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T.

The School of Facebook

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.” This famous misquotation of ancient Greek philosopher Socrates became popular in the 1960s, when it was used by the Mayor of Amsterdam and reported by The New York Times, on April 3, 1966.

Rafael: The School of Athens

Nowadays, parents and teachers once again are concerned about the bad manners or the social well-being of their kids.

Americans between the ages of 8 and 18 spend on average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day using some sort of electronic device, from smartphones to MP3 players to computers, The Kayser Family Foundation reported earlier this year. You can go to any campus or school, and you will probably find an immediate flipping up of phones and texting when the lesson is over. Parents are concerned about the fact that kids no longer care about language as an art and gift. And they wonder: If some of these digital natives have more than 500 “friends” on social networks like Facebook, do we have to be concerned about the future?

We do, certainly. But we should look a little bit closer first. As The Economist reported in an article entitled “Primates on Facebook” last year, even people with very many Facebook friends, mutually communicate only with some happy few. 10 to 16 people, according to a study of the Facebook Data Team, taking into account gender differences. The average user on Facebook has “only” 120 confirmed friend connections and mutually communicates with 3 to 7 people. This looks quite similar to the good old concept of friendship.

(c) Facebook Data Team: Maintained Relationships on Facebook

And even if Facebook seems to devaluate the term “friend”, and although parents might be impressed or scared of the social multitasking skills of their children, digital natives seem to be able to build up and maintain friendships in their social networks. As the Economist put it: “The neocortex is the limit.”

It was Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist from Oxford, who extrapolated from the brain sizes and social networks of apes and suggested that the size of the human brain allows stable networks of about 148. Many institutions, from neolithic villages to the maniples of the Roman army, seem to be organized around this Dunbar number. And even digital natives in their new habitat of social networks do not exceed those limits.

Until recently concerns about the use of technology have been focused on the implications for kids’ intellectual development. Now, it is taken into account how technology is affecting social relationships and friendship. This brings the worry about the social repercussions of technology from the darker side of online interactions, like cyber-bullying or texting sexually explicit messages, to the light.

In my opinion, most of the concerns of the elder generation result from something Remo Largo, swiss MD and early childhood specialist would call “misfit” between Kids’ behavior and their environment. Then education would be about rearranging learning and living to better match the children’s individual needs. That means new approaches to digital literacy to address a second digital divide. But it is also about being interested in the kids’ needs and their new virtual habitat. Better education will help them to find the balance between broadcasting and privacy, networking and friendship, multitasking and concentration, lightweight conversation and personal reflection, online networks, and real life.

This southpark episode is a very good starting point:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SgkfghupFE&NR=1

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