A2Z Homeschool – Ann's Blog

Homeschooling From Ann's Perspective

National Geographic Education Launches New Site


–Educators and Families Invited to Share Feedback–
–Tools Include Multimedia, Educational Activities and Customizable Maps

WASHINGTON (April 14, 2011)—National Geographic Education today announces the beta phase of its newly redesigned website, NatGeoEd.org, inviting user feedback from all interested K-12 teachers, informal educators and families.

NatGeoEd.org delivers an expanded and updated library of the National Geographic Society’s popular education content, combining National Geographic’s iconic media and expert resources with materials specifically developed to align with national education standards. The site includes a wide range of free educational resources to bring geography, science and social studies to life for educators, students and their families. The redesign was guided by extensive research conducted in collaboration with the Education Development Center and designed and developed with the expertise of Blenderbox, a New York Web design firm. Research on the design of the site will continue throughout the beta phase, and users have the opportunity to provide feedback through easy-to-use tools that are available on every page.

The site is designed to meet the specific needs of different audiences, including K-12 classroom teachers, educators in informal settings, families and students. Audience views cater to the needs of specific users — including teachers, families, students and kids — and an enhanced search tool allows users to find content tailored to their needs. Features include multimedia activities and a growing reference library — with a glossary, encyclopedia and downloadable media — to support student research and homework. Connections to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube support community interaction among educators and learners.

Many resources are designed to foster real-world learning — on topics ranging from citizen science to current events to careers — to help reinforce concepts in and out of the classroom. In addition, media and other educational materials are presented in quick, easy-to-view multimedia carousels that can be viewed in full-screen mode for easy use on projectors and interactive whiteboards. They also include preview and pop-out modes for easy planning. A new interactive map will introduce students to mapping and GIS concepts through thematic data layers and will enable users to create their own maps. Users can now customize the highly popular printable black-and-white outline maps with drawing and labeling tools.

“For more than 120 years, the National Geographic Society has been pursuing its mission of inspiring people to care about the planet,” said Danny Edelson, National Geographic’s vice president for Education. “Capitalizing on the Society’s unparalleled editorial resources, this new website reflects our commitment to provide engaging digital content to our education audiences. We are excited to be able to offer this cutting-edge platform for 21st-century learning and look forward to learning from our users during this beta phase.”
The development of the National Geographic Education website and its content has been supported in part by funding from the Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon. National Geographic is one of 11 national content partners in Verizon’s Thinkfinity.org, a comprehensive website that provides thousands of free educational resources for use in and out of the classroom. Each partner creates free, high-quality, standards-based educational resources in their disciplines. Thinkfinity.org also includes the Thinkfinity Community, www.thinkfinity.org/community, an online spot for teachers, administrators and parents to share ideas and discuss education, collaborate with colleagues or ask questions of education leaders.

About National Geographic Education
National Geographic Education is the educational outreach arm of the National Geographic Society. National Geographic Education brings the rich resources of the Society to its audience of educators and learners as part of its mission to prepare young people to care for the planet. National Geographic Education creates educational materials for young people and the adults who teach them, conducts educational programs for educators and advocates for improved geographic education. Under the auspices of the National Geographic Education Foundation, it has awarded more than $80 million in grants to support efforts to improve geography education in the United States and Canada. For more information, visit NatGeoEd.org.

About the Verizon Foundation
The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon, uses its technology, financial resources and partnerships to address critical social issues, with a focus on education and domestic violence prevention. In 2010, the foundation awarded nearly $67 million to nonprofit agencies in the U.S. and abroad. Through Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation’s largest employee volunteer programs, Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered nearly 6 million hours of community service since 2000. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.

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A Winning Combination: Children, Computers and Time


By Barbara Frank

Ultimately, schools have enough on their plates teaching children the three R’s; adding a requirement for insuring that children become computer-literate can often overwhelm even the best schools. So if children don’t learn to use computers in school, where can they learn this vital skill?

My experience has been that children are very capable of teaching themselves to use a computer at home. We bought our first computer when our older children were 11 and 9. My husband used it each evening after work, learning the design software that would eventually allow him to start his own business. That’s why our children were only allowed on the computer during the day. I quickly learned that they would stay on there all day if I let them, so we established the 45-minutes-per-day rule, enforced by a kitchen timer on top of the monitor.

Before long, our older children had taught themselves all about how to use the computer. Once we began accessing the Internet, they designed their own Web sites. They soon needed more computer time than they were allowed, so each saved up and bought their own computer. Our daughter started a Web zine about music, attracting a following of kids who shared her interest. Our son ran a Web site about his favorite major league baseball player; his site was later written up in Baseball Weekly. They achieved this level of proficiency after only a few years of using the computer, and each was entirely self-taught. (They later took a few online courses to hone their computer skills.)

They (and, a few years later, their younger sister) quickly became more proficient in computer basics than I have yet to become after many years of computer use. Our fourth child, who has developmental disabilities, is not as computer-literate as the others were at his age (that is partly due to his limited reading ability), but he can find and start different educational games on our computer without assistance. My point here is that all four were given access to a basic computer and the time to experiment with it. Based on their success, I believe it’s up to parents and the kids themselves, not the schools, to produce computer-literate children. Parents should provide the computer and the time. Given that opportunity, the children will take over from there.

One reason children pick up the computer so quickly is that they’re more willing to explore the computer and press keys without worrying that they’ll mess up something. We adults are often hampered by that fear, so it may take us longer to learn how to use a computer. While we sit flipping through a tutorial book plotting our next move, they’ve already clicked back and forth between screens and figured out what to do (and what not to do).

Of course, they do make mistakes in the process, and sometimes lose information they had painstakingly put in there. But once they become more proficient than their parents, they realize that it’s up to them to solve the problem, and they learn to do so.

I think the fact that I couldn’t come running to my children’s rescue each time the computer “ate” something important forced them to figure things out for themselves; they learned pretty early on that I wasn’t going to be much help, no matter how good my intentions. They became fearless when it came to using the computer, which helped them become computer troubleshooters for the rest of the family.

Thriving in the 21st Century: Preparing Our Children for the New Economic Reality, by Barbara Frank
(excerpted with permission from Thriving in the 21st Century: Preparing Our Children for the New Economic Reality)

Copyright 2011 Barbara Frank/ Cardamom Publishers

Barbara Frank has been homeschooling for 25 years. Her latest book is Thriving in the 21st Century: Preparing Our Children for the New Economic Reality (Cardamom Publishers, April 2011). You’ll find her on the Web at http://www.thrivinginthe21stcentury.com and http://barbarafrankonline.com

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Rocket Science Video Class


Yes, It Really Is Rocket Science!

This is really cool.
Ever see a rocket launch? I mean a real rocket launch – the kind that took Neil Armstrong to the moon?

Next Wed. (Feb 23), there’s going to be one, and you can watch the live video feed from it.

Every kid should see this!
Before the launch, Aurora Lipper, from Supercharged Science is doing a live video class online where she’ll be teaching about rockets. Your kids will learn how they’re built and how they fly.

During the class she’ll even take them step-by-step through building their own slingshot rockets.

You can register for free here

At the end of the class, she’ll tell you how to access the live video feed for the launch of the rocket (It’s a Taurus XL rocket launched from Vandenberg, CA).

Aurora’s classes are really second-to-none when it comes to science. I mean her free stuff is way better than lots of paid material out there.

Don’t miss this one!

See you there,


P.S. You won’t want your kids to miss the tele-class or the live rocket launch. Register now!

Supercharged Science is an affiliate of mine. The class, however, is free, and I earn no fee unless you buy something else.

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Financial Lessons Coloring Book


Do YOU have children? Do you know OTHER people with children?

Then hang on to your seats…you’re going to want to know about this…especially is you’re looking for the perfect holiday or birthday gift for any child in our life.

My good friend, Elisabeth Donati, and her team at Creative Wealth, have just released a children’s coloring book that smart parents have been asking for for years. It’s their new The Financial Wisdom Coloring Book for Kids and Parents!

I haven’t seen anything like this before. And it’s an idea that’s just in time. I mean, we all realize that if more adults had a handle on their finances, we probably wouldn’t be experiencing the widespread financial stress of our current economic situation.

Download Your Copy Today! Remember, it’s never too early or too late to learn about money.

To your children’s happiness in life,

Ann Zeise

Read the full Financial Lessons Coloring Book article here.

p.s. Feel free to download a few sample pages here.

Creative Wealth Intl. is an affiliate of mine.

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Studying Peace


I don’t mean to say that you ignore that wars exist and have happened in the past, but focus instead on what caused the wars and what eventually stopped them. Focus on helping to quell “wars” in your home and neighborhood, so your kids can eventually move on to making peace in your country and the world.

Right now many are very concerned that the wheat shortage caused by floods and droughts could cause uprisings by the hungry. Wheat is easier for children to understand than is oil. Talk with your children about how you can use less wheat in the first place, and not waste the wheat you do buy. Explain that wheat is in bread, cookies, cakes, pasta, biscuits, muffins, and as a thickener in many items we don’t think of has having any flour in them at all.

Help your children to learn how to negotiate for peace when a family fight breaks out. How can a child who has not learned about personal boundaries ever understand national boundaries? Even a very young child can learn to negotiate and compromise. Explain to older children that just because they are older, bigger, smarter, etc. they still can’t “lord it over” younger siblings.

Some resources for Peace Education:
Cyberschoolbus: Peace section

Learning Peace

The Peace Education Project
Recommends books that encourage peace

Teen Volunteer Organizations
Long list of organizations welcoming teens who want to help make peace in the world.

Seeds of Peace
Teen peace organization.

Peace Quotations

Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan
by Jeanette Winter
About a girl called Nasreen sitting at home in Afghanistan, silent since her parents disappeared, forbidden to attend school; the grandmother, who tells the story, taking her to a secret girls’ school in a private home.

Remember Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

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