Dec 14

Screentime and Setting Healthy Limits

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated their recommendations for screen time for children. Their new recommendations move away from strict time limits and toward an expectation that families pay attention to the types and quality of media interactions that children are engaging in.

As Dr. Jenny Radesky shares:

“What’s most important is that parents be their child’s ‘media mentor.’ That means teaching them how to use it as a tool to create, connect and learn.”


Along with their new guidelines, the Academy has released a Family Media Plan tool to help families have conversations about media usage and to set healthy limits that align with their own values and needs. Learn more in the video below and consider how you can use this tool in your family conversations.


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Dec 13

Five Simple Steps to a Healthy Media Diet

Here are Five Simple Steps to a Healthy Media Diet from Common Sense Media.

  1. Choose the good stuff
  2. Watch, listen and play together
  3. Walk the walk
  4. Keep a balance
  5. Watch the clock


Click here to watch the video.

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Dec 12

So much to read! Leveraging district ebook collections

books framed by ipad bevel

Maybe you’re tired of reading the same book with your child over and over again. Maybe your time budget won’t allow for a trip to the local public library or your finances need to be focused on priorities other than books right now. Whatever the reason inspiring your search for ways to get new books into your children’s hands, St. Vrain Valley School District has several avenues to help. And, each is easily accessible using district-provided devices. I’ve outlined the process for accessing the best two below along with a summary of what kind of books you can find there.

The District Digital Library

Book Levels: Elementary, Middle, High

Powered by Overdrive, the District Digital Library is a collection of tens of thousands of ebooks available to anyone within SVVSD with a district username and password. The collection includes ebooks, audiobooks, and videos. Collections are age-limited so that students at each school level have access only to content that is age-appropriate. They can access the library here. While Overdrive does have an app available through the most common app stores, the easiest way to access texts is through a device’s web browser. Once students begin reading a book, Overdrive marks their place and syncs across devices. Readers can also highlight and annotate within texts. Even when a book has been returned these highlights are still accessible through their library accounts.


Book Levels: Elementary and Middle

Similar to the Digital Library, MyOn allows students to access ebooks from a central digital collection. MyOn features fiction and non-fiction titles across multiple genres. Newer readers can activate a read aloud function that will read the book to them while highlighting each word in sync. Many SVVSD schools have reading challenges for their students through MyOn, asking them to meet a goal of minutes read. Teachers and school can also activate simple comprehension quizzes for each book, and readers can write reviews for other in-district users after completing a book. To access MyON, your child can click here and select “Students and Most Teachers” then enter their district user name and password.

Even more access to books in the home can be achieved by becoming a patron of your local public library. All public libraries serving SVVSD families also use Overdrive as their ebook platforms. Families with public library cards can use district devices to access public library collections and books for the whole family.

For guidance on reading with your children, take a look at the Language Arts Blog series on Family Community Literacy. Each post is dedicated to a single idea of how to make reading and writing fun and engaging in your home without requiring additional resources or an extensive time commitment.

Just read. The research is clear, students who come from homes where reading is valued and modeled by adults become better readers themselves. Through SVVSD’s online text resources and digital devices, you’ve everything you need to make your home a place where reading is valued and easily accessible.

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Dec 11

Monitor? Or Mentor?

New technologies are changing our relationships with each other. As parents of digital natives, how can we help our kids navigate these new digital social environments? Should we monitor everything that they’re saying and sharing online?

What kind of people will our children become?

Dr. Devorah Heitner, media historian, suggests that before we try to catch our kids doing the wrong things, we need to ask ourselves if we’ve done a good job teaching and modeling the right things. Check out her Ted Talk below in which she shares her conversations with kids and offers suggestions for helping our children navigate some of the challenges of living in a digital world.


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Dec 10

Copyright vs. Creation in the Digital Age

A frequent comment I hear from teachers in technology-rich classrooms is that technology makes  plagiarism so much easier for their students. While it is true that technology provides a whole galaxy of easily copy-and-pastable material available to students, it’s even more true that we have a responsibility to teach students why this practice is wrong .

Though the consequences for plagiarism in elementary, middle, and high school are relatively mild, these same actions can have much more serious implications later in life. So, how can we teach students to respect copyright laws and to be lifelong good digital citizens?


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