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Engage Students with Digital Passport

posted Sep 30, 2013, 1:26 PM by Martin Cisneros

Introduce students, grades 3-5, to
DIGITAL PASSPORT™, Common Sense Media’s award-winning suite of engaging videos, fun games, and collaborative classroom activities that address key issues facing kids in today's digital world.

iOS and Android mobile apps coming September 2014!

Quibly - Ask Questions, Get Answers From Like-Minded Parents and Professionals!

posted Mar 6, 2013, 9:53 AM by Martin Cisneros   [ updated Mar 6, 2013, 10:02 AM ]

is a new Q&A site with a responsive design, specifically for parents. As a parent you might spend less time behind a computer and more time at soccer games so you'll appreciate the ability to find answers to just about anything, from fellow parents, when you need them. Learn more here!

Digital Teaching Tools for Parents

posted Oct 30, 2012, 9:43 PM by Martin Cisneros   [ updated Oct 30, 2012, 10:14 PM ]

It's very difficult being a parent in any century but especially in the 21st Century. The following is a list of ed tech tools and apps from Edudemic. Like most things, know what your child like and given them an opportunity to explore these tools before you purchase:-) 

  1. Shake-a-Phrase

    From Artgig Studios, this $1.99 app for the iPhone and iPad makes language learning fun. Using the Story Starter function, you can begin to compose an amusing tale. Then, each time you shake the device, it produces a new wacky sentence, scrambling the words at random, not unlike Mad Libs. One of the sample sentences given: “The fanciful sailor yelled at and saved the chilly witch.” When you see a word you don’t recognize, you can tap that word and get a definition. There’s also a quiz mode.

  2. abc PocketPhonics

    This app teaches kids to sound out and combine letters, and even includes a handwriting tool so they can trace letters with their fingers. It’s available for $2.99 in the App Store.

  3. Jungle Time

    Jungle Time, available for the iPad and iPhone, aims to teach young children how to tell time. Its appealing graphics (different cartoon animal faces appear as the “face” of the clock) is sure to amuse.

  4. BrainPOP Featured Movie

    Every day, a different short educational animated movie is showcased by the edutainment specialists at BrainPOP, which was created by Avraham Kadar, M.D., an immunologist and pediatrician. BrainPOP has a huge stash of resources in the categories of Science, Social Studies, English, Math, Engineering & Tech, Health, and Arts & Music, plus extra features such as, currently, a spotlight on the election.

  5. The Elements: A Visual Exploration

    This super-cool iPad app is an interactive periodic table that lets you explore the world of chemistry and examine specimens of each element up close (even in 3D … though it’s BYOG, bring your own glasses)! It’s also available for the iPhone, though the big screen adds a lot.

  6. Intro to Math

    The visual elegance of this app from Montessorium led to it being featured in an Apple ad. Its interactive modules teach basic counting skills. Montessorium also offers other apps, all informed, of course, by the Montessori teaching philosophy, such as Intro to Letters, Intro to Geography, and the newly revamped Alpha Writer.

  7. Britannica Kids: Dinosaurs

    Though Encyclopedia Britannica has had a hard couple of decades, getting pummeled first by Encarta CD-ROMs and then by Wikipedia, and finally announced this year they would cease publishing a paper edition, they still exist as an electronic concern, and have begun creating educational apps rich with the kind of detail you’d expect. Besides Dinosaurs, they offer immersive educational experiences in U.S. Presidents, Snakes, Knights and Castles, Aztec Empire, Ancient Rome, Rainforests, Solar System, Ancient Egypt, and Volcanoes.

  8. Word Whiz Electronic Flashcard

    This $16.99 toy tests and improves children’s word-building skills with three levels of difficulty. The goal is to build as many three-, four-, or five-letter words as possible within a minute. Perfect for kindergarteners who are enamored of gadgets and learning to wield words.

  9. Kids Money

    A free app from AppsRocket, this tool is meant to help young children begin to understand the value of money and the idea of budgeting. They can use it to track their allowance savings until they reach a target amount to buy the treat of their choosing.

  10. DragonBox

    Available for iPhone, iPod Touch Mac, iPad, and Android, this virtual card game does something brilliant: it begins to teach kids algebra without their knowing it. Better yet, it’s actually fun: you move through five “worlds” with 20 levels each, and as you solve equations, dragons hatch and grow. In Norway, where it was produced, it quickly became the #1 most downloaded app.

  11. ALPHIE

    ALPHIE is a (rather adorable) toy robot designed to teach preschoolers letters, numbers, words, shapes, and more. He comes with 30 double-sided cards that you can insert into his torso to engage him on these assorted subjects, whereupon he talks, quizzes you, and even plays music.

  12. My Smart Hands

    This $4.99 app is a sign language dictionary designed to help you teach signing to your baby. Whether you or your child is hearing impaired or not, this could be a great educational opportunity for one or both of you.

  13. Mindflex

    Not an educational tool per se, this toy nonetheless may spark an interest in neuroscience and even teaches children to manipulate their own mental states. It’s a ball game you play by means of biofeedback, using your brainwaves to levitate a ball through a series of obstacles.

  14. Touch Physics

    In this 50-level game, free to download at the App Store, players attempt to move a purple wheel past obstacles to a yellow star, using a magic crayon (like Harold of children’s-book fame). It models the real laws of physics and can be quite challenging in a way that’s bound to prove especially addictive for kids.

  15. Bookworm

    Link letter blocks to form words in this $2.99 iPhone game from PopCap (also available for MAC, PC, and Nintendo DS). Bookworm is a good vocabulary builder for kids and a great diversion for adults.

  16. Magic Piano

    This piano game is a great way to get kids interested in learning to play the real thing. Though the interface is more like Dance Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero than the traditional ebony and ivory, it does allow your fingers to form real chords.

  17. Park Math

    This jaunty math game won a 2011 Silver Award from the Parents’ Choice Foundation, the 2010 Best Kids’ iPhone/iPod App of the Year Award from iLounge, and a Children’s Technology Review Editor’s Choice Award for Excellence in Design. It features 7 mini-games where, for example, you learn greater than/less than by balancing a seesaw, or learn subtraction as apples fall from a tree.

  18. Grover’s Number Special

    Big Bird lives! IDEO Toy Lab has partnered with Sesame Street to produce a line of fun apps featuring original video of everybody’s favorite educational Muppets. In this one, you help Grover, who’s moonlighting as a waiter, to count and add up ingredients to serve an angry customer, since the chef hasn’t shown up for work.

  19. SmartGlobe

    This interactive globe has content for ages 5+, 8+, and 15+, and has an attached SmartPen so you can point at spots on the globe and hear informative audio files. There are also six games, including multiplayer functionality so you can play along with your child.

  20. Stack the States

    Can you still name all 50 state capitals? This app by Dan Russell-Pinson is kind of like the Tetris of U.S. geography: you stack up states after correctly answering questions about them, which in turn unlocks three bonus games: Pile Up, Puzzler, and Capital Drop.

SchoolReach Launches Anonymous Bully Reporting Tool

posted Mar 21, 2012, 11:29 PM by Martin Cisneros   [ updated Mar 21, 2012, 11:31 PM ]

SchoolReach has launched the CyberBully Hotline, a tool that allows students to anonymously report bullying via text message or phone call.

The two-way tool also allows school representatives to reply with instructions or other support without compromising the anonymity of the reporting student.

As part of the program, each school is given a unique number for students to use. Messages sent to the number are forwarded to the mobile device or email inbox of designated school representatives, as well as the CyberBully Hotline Web site. For more info visit

A Parents' Guide to Facebook:-)

posted Feb 7, 2012, 3:27 PM by Martin Cisneros

The guide covers how to:

* Configure Facebook’s new timeline (what used to be called your profile)
* Review your activity log

Use the site's new in-line privacy tools
* Use Facebook’s “social reporting” tools to resolve problems
* Protect your online reputation
* Use Facebook Mobile safely
* And much more. Do check it out...

Click to go to and read or print out the 34-page guide in PDF format

21st Century Learning & Teaching with CyberCitizens

posted Jan 30, 2012, 5:32 PM by Martin Cisneros

Ensuring a Safe School Climate - The Board's Role 
Event at the Monterey County Office of Education

Presentation Download (PDF)
Presentation Handout Download (PDF)

In this presentation we take a look at the current state of teaching and learning with our 21st Century students and teachers. We see how technology play a large part in the communication choices many of our students make in the land of social media. We take a closer look at the benefits and the concerns educators and parents need to know before they continue to let their children connect to the world wide web.

Acceptable Use Policies in Web 2.0 & Mobile Era

posted Apr 8, 2011, 8:03 AM by Martin Cisneros

A Guide for School Districts

Information and communications technologies (ICT) policies in schools have two dimensions. One is to ensure that students are protected from pernicious materials on the Internet. The other is to enable student access to the extensive resources on the Internet for learning and teaching. While these two dimensions are not intrinsically in conflict, in actuality, such can become the case.

There is a wide range of restrictiveness with regard to Internet access in school districts across the U.S. A critical concern is: How can we best assure that students will not be affected by pornography, hate sites, sexual or physical harassment, and other pernicious sites and situations that exist on the Internet? Some districts believe that the best way to do this is to rely on blocking and filtering to eliminate access to harmful sites. Other districts take a different policy stand. While they also use blocking and filtering that federal law requires, their policy is based on the premise that children need to learn how to be responsible users and that such cannot occur if the young person has no real choice. School personnel who take this stand contend that students need to acquire the skills and dispositions of responsible Internet usage and to be held accountable for their behavior. Moreover, those holding this position contend that restrictive school networks may provide more of an appearance of protection than reality since they can be bypassed by students. Schools with less restrictive environments often distinguish between the restrictiveness appropriate for older and younger students since young children may stumble across sites they ought not visit.  Learn more...

4 Effective Tools for Monitoring Your Child’s Online Safety

posted Dec 15, 2010, 11:24 AM by Martin Cisneros

If you're concerned about your child's online safety, you aren't unusual. Seventy-eight percent of respondents to a survey conducted by Yahoo had similar worries, and more than 70% of them took some action to manage their children's online and mobile activities. 

"It's the Wild West; our children are now armed with six-shooters, and there is trouble that they don't even realize," explains online monitoring service SocialShield. This might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it is true that cyber bullying, online predators, and your child's reputation warrant some effort toward keeping track of what your child is doing online. These four services make it easy by alerting you when potentially damaging content involving your child is posted online. Learn More...

Policy Tool Generator for Social Media

posted Dec 5, 2010, 1:19 PM by Martin Cisneros   [ updated Dec 5, 2010, 1:56 PM ]

 Policy Tool Generator for Social Media is is a policy generator that simplifies the process of creating guidelines that respect the rights of your employees while protecting your brand online. It's easy.The streamlined process simplyrequires you to answer a brief questionnaire and provides you with a complete Social Media Policy customized to your company.PolicyTool has been developed by rtraction in collaboration with Harrison Pensa lawyer David R. Canton, one of Canada's leading authorities in internet and technology related legal issues.

MTV Launches Interactive Visualization Tool to Fight Cyber Bullying

posted Oct 26, 2010, 4:47 PM by Martin Cisneros   [ updated Dec 15, 2010, 11:31 AM ]

It’s no secret that in this age of burgeoning social media, cyber bullying is also on the rise. In response to this issue, MTV has launched an interactive visualisation tool called “Draw Your Line” to help kids band together to fight online abuse.

Draw Your Line is a part of MTV’s larger campaign, “A Thin Line,” which focuses on keeping kids safe in an
increasingly digital world, and was launched as a part of National Bullying Prevention Month and Domestic Violence Awareness Month with support from Blue Shield of California Foundation.

In essence, the tool is a kind of interactive map that lets kids post ways in which they are fighting abuse, find resources if they’re suffering from bullying, and see where and how others are doing their part. They can also suggest resources that might be missing from the map.

As kind of an incentive to take part, MTV has also announced that anyone who posts an action between now and 2011 can enter for a chance to win a trip for two to the MTV Video Music Awards.

Draw Your Line — which was designed by 24-year-old Michael Bastianelli as part of MTV’s “Redraw the Line” Challenge — isn’t the first digital tool in the network’s arsenal against abuse. Earlier this month, MTV launched an iPhone app called Over the Line?, which lets teens submit stories of abuse and harassment to be read and rated by their peers. Kids can weigh in on whether or not the bully in question went “over the line” in any given situation.

Cyber bullying has been a term that’s been bandied around quite a bit lately, especially in light of events such the abuse of college student Tyler Clementi, who killed himself after a roommate posted footage of his romantic life online.

In response to this suicide and other tragedies, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has teamed up with Facebook to fight abuse on the social networking site, and sex columnist Dan Savage has created a YouTube channel called “It Gets Better” to help and support gay teens (U.S. President Barack Obama even submitted a video).

Still, the issue isn’t just exclusive to gay teens — according to an MTV-Associated Press study, 50% of
14–24-year-olds claim to have been the victim of digital abuse.

How effective do you think campaigns like this are when it comes to fighting the dark side of the online realm? Are we doing enough? Head to the comments section to weigh in.

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