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+ - Kid's Self-esteem When Sibs are Smart 1

Submitted by cookiej
cookiej (136023) writes "So, we've got an issue and while I was trying to come up with a place to put this, it occurred to me that other slashdotters might have wrestled with this particular issue.

I have a son, 5 who is very bright and a daughter, 6 (1st grade) who is also bright but is proceeding at a more normal pace when it comes to reading and math.

My son starts kindergarten in the fall. His reading is pretty close to surpassing hers. He does math in his head and gets concepts that are baffling to many his age... you get the idea.

While I don't think he'll be going to MIT for summer school, I expect we'll see our share of AP classes before his school career is ended.

The issue I'm facing is finding a balance between nurturing and fostering my son and not making my daughter feel as though she's being left behind. She's a great 1st grade artist, however, as much as we gush about her artwork (and we have at least one of those framed on the wall) she hears most adults ooh and ahh when my son starts talking.

I'd love to hear from others who've been here.

Thanks in advance, Slashdot!"

Comment: Re:ipads in the classroom (Score 1) 223

by cookiej (#39693695) Attached to: Do Tablets Help Children Learn?
Ah! I thought you were one of the teachers. My apologies. Not sure that HP would have gone for that one. Getting the tablets alone might have been workable but the "work to integrate them" is that mysterious box on the flow chart labeled "then a miracle occurs". No one in their right mind would go for that deal--it's HUGE. Ask anyone who's had anything to do with PowerSchool and the like. I agree completely with the ridiculous lack of planning on the BoE's part. Hopefully one of the teachers could take the lead -- maybe having you advise them. Educationally, iOS is far ahead of the pack. Android is getting some traction but to my knowledge, nothing serious yet (more of an afterthought, meaning "Oh, yeah. Let's do an Android app as well.") If you had to pick one device to "throw at the wall, hoping it'll stick" -- the iPad is probably your best bet. HP WebOS? That'd really be a bundle of work. Good luck!

Comment: Re:Key word: "excess" (Score 1) 223

by cookiej (#39626689) Attached to: Do Tablets Help Children Learn?

I liken this to the state family-services programs. We went through foster training on a long road to adoption and it blew me away just how terrible some of these foster homes are. Some are excellent, certainly, but WAY to many of them are just in it for the cash.

During the training, I broke into my "WTF?!" moment and the trainer simply said, "Yes. It sucks. But it sucks less than having them in the 'system' or on the street."

So, to me, a tablet can follow that same logic. There will always be idiot parents who suck and not much to be done about that until we start birth regulation. (Heh. Think of trying to pass THAT test down at the DMV.) But tablet is certainly better than a TV with much more of an upside to where it might take a kid.

Comment: Re:ipads in the classroom (Score 1) 223

by cookiej (#39626567) Attached to: Do Tablets Help Children Learn?


Our elementary school had dilapidated playground equipment that they couldn't afford to fix up. Then a state funded a program came in to add secure entryways to all schools--which resulted more or less a new "wing" added to the school that included new offices for the administrators.

But the playground equipment was still dangerous. And yes, I brought it up in the PTO meetings.

In your case, I'd wager that Apple offered a discount to the state to make it look like a great deal that could get through the legislature. Often monies are earmarked for one category (statewide tech budget) and aren't allowed to be spent elsewhere (local bus service) which is an attempt to ensure even bad budget management doesn't result in catastrophe. In this economy, that sort of thing becomes glaringly painful.

The software just isn't there yet for the tablets to become an adjunct tool for daily classwork. And since you only have five per classroom, you can't effectively use it for anything but remediation. However, the tablet does EXCEL at providing great remediation, provided (and this IS a big one) you have the content to back up what you've been teaching. The quiz app seems ridiculous. I don't know what levels you're teaching but at the elementary level, there's a website called "" and they offer a pretty decent listen/read/quiz suite that is assigned and tracked by the teachers. The major failing of raz-kids is that it is flash-based. It can, however, be used with the flash-enabled iOS browser called "Rover". Rover has a "not ready for prime time" feel to it. The interface is non-intuitive, you can't easily manage bookmarks (you're forced to wade through their picks for websites) and it's significantly slower than say, Safari. But once you get to the flash, it works like a champ.

raz-kids even has an iOS app but it requires two separate subscriptions, which our school (and frankly, it pisses me off, too) is not amenable to being squeezed for.

Were I in your shoes? I'd take those iPads the other teachers are foisting on you, figure them out and be the "go-to" person on tablets. Then leverage that into either higher pay or a new job at a private school. Or maybe become a consultant for some small educational software company. My brother was the marching band / music teacher at his high school. Apple gave them a budget to build a small video studio but the "arts" staff had no interest. He took the money and developed it into one of the most respected and award-winning video production programs in the state, now his full-time position.

Comment: Re:Look at adults first. (Score 1) 223

by cookiej (#39569149) Attached to: Do Tablets Help Children Learn?
Here, here. Just finished a trilogy last night on the tablet. I use it when I'm cooking ( has a great recipe screen!) I use it to keep track of the family schedule (it usually sits on a refrigerator mount in the morning, with the daily schedule opened.) I was diagnosed as ADHD long ago but I don't find the tablet enabling me any more than my laptop. Perhaps less!

Comment: Re:ipads in the classroom (Score 1) 223

by cookiej (#39569125) Attached to: Do Tablets Help Children Learn?
Heh. The iPads aren't your problem. The BoE in your district appears to be suffering from a severe cranial/anal inversion. Purchasing *anything* without a cogent plan for what is purchased is a waste of money. If they're so lost, go out and hunt down a few apps to get the tablets out of the "etch-a-sketch" category. The good news is that someone *might* backfill some infrastructure and the iPads could still end up providing value.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 223

by cookiej (#39569089) Attached to: Do Tablets Help Children Learn?

I realize there is software written for tablets (someone linked to many below) which emulate activities such as drawing and painting. The point of this article is that creativity and learning are improved over traditional methods. I doubt that doing things on a tablet is even equivalent to the physical interaction of other methods, let alone superior.

I love the "I doubt". You ask for proof and make it clear you have none to offer save your own vibes.

Is a math program better than watching and interacting with a teacher?

Are 8 blobs of colored pixels really better than the 5 oranges and 3 apples on the table?

It depends on the teacher. However, it seemed that the OP was really asking about the places kids are using the tablets the most, i.e., at home. And except for a lucky few, there AREN'T math teachers at home. No one is suggesting that we don't do simple math when opportunities present themselves. Just that tablets offer simple and direct access to learning. My kids are required to spend 20 minutes a day on the educational apps. I'm a decent enough "teacher" and love to foster their love of learning. But I doubt those 20 minutes with me alone would be nearly as productive. As a matter of fact, I'm sure of it. My 6 year old hates when I correct her printing no matter how gentle and positive I spin it. The tablet? If she goes too far afield when writing her answer on the screen, it shows her the correct way to draw the letters or numbers. No grumbling about how the app won't let her write, she just makes the correction and continues. Since using the tablet, her handwriting has improved dramatically.

Is drawing (with a 100+ ms latency) better than on a piece of paper? Will a flat glass screen provide the subtle, subconscious insight into texture, shading, pressure, etc that crayons do?

Is a finger painting program provide as meaningful feedback as actually getting paint on your fingers? Just how well can you simulate the color and paper for water-colors?

Again, no one is suggesting we don't let Johnny color or paint. But honestly, being the primary caregiver here, I don't haul out the paints, paper, tablecloth and the brushes every day--we don't have the room to have a permanent "paint station". But on the tablet, once the learning apps are done the kids are free to color, paint, read, listen/play music or fling birds as they see fit for the rest of their screen time. And how well can you simulate the color and paper for watercolors? Oh, I'd say "better every day." I mean, that kind of math is what computers are great at and the resolution on the new iPad is truly stunning. If you ever get an app, do check out some of the offerings from Crayola.

Humans are social animals that have evolved to use our hands to examine and manipulate our environment. There's a reason smaller children do things like finger paint -- it's a very tactile activity with clear feedback.

Technology has a place in the classroom, of course -- the newfangled school computers I used in my middle school years are what pushed me at CS and programming -- but tablets like the iPad are solutions looking for a problem.

Me? I was fascinated by playing "Trek" and "Civil War" on the TTY33. That's what hooked me. But can't you hear the folks back then making exactly the same arguments you're making now? "These new-fangled teletypes are just solutions looking for a problem?" The direct feedback that tablets provide overcomes the last hurdle for a computer-based educational tool. As with traditional laptops, teachers can spot areas that need reinforcement much sooner. No one HAS to learn to type to use a tablet. The kids get immediate and ego-less feedback for the basics. Again, to use my child as an example, our school is using an online program that allows the teacher to assign simple books to read. The teachers are allowed to print out the books and send them home as well. Now, if I were to sit her down in front of one of our computers, she certainly could do the work. But not like this. She's no longer hunting on the keyboard or struggling with a mouse. She sits with it in her lap, reads the stories (to me) and nails the quizzes.

That they're failing to find one is why we get these articles claiming they're "better" because, gosh, 77% of adults guts' say so.

... and you're offering this criticism because *your* gut says so. I don't even see you trying to offer evidence other than posing evocative, open-ended questions. I can offer you concrete, observed examples of how our tablet is helping our kids. Where are your examples?

You say they're a tool -- okay, nice truism. Please, tell me what tablets do to improve more traditional methods.

Hopefully I just have.

Comment: Re:Well then are better then text book in some way (Score 4, Interesting) 223

by cookiej (#39568703) Attached to: Do Tablets Help Children Learn?

But sadly the problem is that is EXACTLY what often happens, they become fancy electronic babysitters. I have gone in houses where there isn't a single book, not a one, but they make sure the kid has an X360 or PS3 because that keeps little Billy out of their hair.

Yes, yes. It seems bad parents can use devices too. However, the OP wasn't about bad parenting--more about the usefulness and/or hazards of these new-fangled devices for learning.

As for the tablet i don't see anything the tablet could do that a cheap netbook or desktop could do, except maybe cost more. ...

Obviously, you haven't been paying attention. My first grader is using an app called "Teach Me First Grade". She sits on the couch with me and is still learning to read. She uses her finger to WRITE her answers on the tablet that is accurately interpreted. When she writes a letter or number wrong, the app gives her help on how to write it correctly. Strangely, this sort of thing wasn't as intuitive on my laptop. Compared to a tablet, a laptop is bluky, uncomfortable and requires a level of abstraction (hit key here, comes up there.. slide finger her, mouse moves there) that presents one more barrier to learning. Educationally, the software is excellent and is helping her with addition, subtraction, spelling and sight words -- in addition to honing her ability to print.

There are always those who feel that because something is new and/or different, it can't replace "how I did it, back in the day." I'm not suggesting that all new tech is automatically good but it isn't automatically bad, either. I've been in the educational software industry for over 30 years (TUTOR was my first language after HP BASIC) and have seen tech come and go -- mostly for good reason. The tablets? They're here to stay. What I see being developed really does fulfill much of what was promised so many years ago. They are truly the "flying cars" of education.. and they're here.

Comment: Re:This article is for Apple-haters (Score 1) 219

Here, here.

All things being equal, it seems that Apple is doing more than everyone else. But Apple is being bashed for not "Doing The Right Thing." So where's the bashing for Google? HTC? Samsung? Dell? I agree that the industry needs to continue to improve conditions. I find it heartening that even the Apple Haters admit that Apple is doing more than the rest.

I'm not a believer in dramatic, overnight change. That level of change tends to create more problems than it solves. To expect Apple to come in, wave their cash and change the culture is naive, immature and smacks of the arrogance we as westerners are always accused of.

While I do think the quickness of the report makes it less credible, it's interesting to note that the folks who accuse the company of "whitewashing" things also mention that the employees would put on a good show for the evaluators to make sure Apple sticks with Foxconn.

Of course they would. Because, despite whatever "abuses" are going on, the workers seem to want their jobs. It would be interesting to ask them if they would like to go back to the way things were before the factories came in.

It seems that the Apple-hating folks always assume the worst, despite at least *some* proof to the contrary. Could there be rampant explotation and de-humanization of the employees? Sure. Could this be the nirvana of all workplaces, with everyone smiling, well-rested and well-to-do while doing lots of work? Sure.

My guess is that the truth is somewhere inbetween. Since Apple appears to be making an effort to be honest (let's not forget that initiated this freely) and working to improve things, I'll cut them some slack. I'm sure if this whole thing is a cover-up and Foxconn is really a current day Rura Penthe, I'll be the first to turn in my iDevices.

(or if they start charging for software per-device!)

PlayStation (Games)

+ - Why NOT make inter-platform games? 2

Submitted by
cookiej writes "Just got the most recent version of the Madden franchise (10) for the PS3. Can someone who knows explain to me why EA has separate networks for the platforms, not allowing them to compete against anything but the same console/PC? Back in the day, there WERE large discrepancies between the consoles but these days it seems like say, the Xbox and the PS3 are at least near the same level. Assuming by release 10 of this franchise, they've got to have a pretty standardized protocol for networking, it seems arbitrary *not* to let them compete. Or am I just missing something obvious?"

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson