Sometimes, communication isn’t about talking or reading.
Historically, icons—any sign or likeness that represents something else— were used to communicate a particular message.
Icons are used in modern times too. Think Mickey Mouse or the Smiley Face, that famous yellow circle with a smiley face in it from the sixties?
That bright and fun image was an icon of happiness.
These days, the smiley has a new face… and it doesn’t have a bright yellow background. In fact, it looks a lot like a colon and a bracket. : ) If you can’t see the smiley, tilt your head to the left.
The smiley icon evolved to fill a need in an increasingly digital society.
As society embraced the computer, the way people communicated changed. Email or text message became the norm, and the risk of miscommunication and misunderstandings increased.
One of the benefits of good old face-to-face talking is the ability to watch the other person’s face and register emotion such as sarcasm, humor, or anger. These emotions simply don’t translate in an email.
Enter the emoticon. The word emoticon is a portmanteau (a mashing together) of the word icon and emotion. Meant to communicate digitally when someone is joking or happy, the smiley emoticon turns 25 years old this year, which he’ll celebrate with a bunch of emoticon friends.
Check out this (by no means comprehensive) list of emoticons:
- Shouting :-@
- Yawning ;-O
- Indifferent :-I
Read more about emoticon development.
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In a techno-savvy world, it seems that old-fashioned board games have gone the way of the dodo. But before you put those old games out to the curb, you might want to reconsider the value of playing board games together as a family.
Playing board games is more than just an alternative way to spend TV-free quality time together. From manual dexterity to memory enhancement, board games help to develop skills that are necessary both in and out of a classroom.
And you thought that board games were just a fun way to pass time!
The best part is of playing board games that your kids will be so busy having fun that they won’t even know that they are learning!
Take a look at some of the school skills that board games enhance:
- problem solving
- identifying patterns
- quick thinking
- anticipation skills
- vocabulary skills
- math skills
- confidence building
- decision making
- team work
Take those board games off the shelf and dust them off—they are more than old-fashioned games, they are great learning tools!
What are some of your family’s favorite board games? We’d love to know!
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It’s the middle of the semester. Tests and midterms are on the horizon, which means more than a few afternoons, evenings, and weekends will be earmarked for studying. Solid study skills that help students to make the most of study time are not a natural skill—they are learned. Unfortunately, study skills are very rarely taught in school, so most students don’t have the skills necessary to maximize their study time.
Studying is more than passively reading over notes—proper studying requires an active mind that continually questions, summarizes, and paraphrases. These 8 tips will help students study better, not longer.
- Get Organized. Avoid last minute cram sessions by using an agenda or calendar. Plan out a study schedule. Working backwards from the test date, give yourself plenty of time to review all materials
- Review with a Pen and Paper. When reading over notes, write down all the subject headings, subheadings, and bolded words. This will help provide a clear picture of the material. Plus, the physical act of holding the pen and writing makes study time active rather than passive.
- Ask Questions. By starting your review early, you’ll have plenty of time to ask the teacher questions about material that you find confusing.
- Put it in your own words. Rather than trying to commit facts to memory, try explaining what you’ve just read to an imaginary person using your own words. If you have trouble, identify key words and work around them. This process helps will help you to really understanding the material, rather than memorize it.
- Be efficient. Before beginning to review a chapter ask yourself what you already know about this unit. Once you’ve identified the material that you are comfortable with, study what you don’t know. A common mistake is spending too much time reviewing material that is familiar.
- Use mnemonic devices. To remember all items or examples, write the first letter of each example and create a sentence from that acronym. For example, to remember all the planets use MVEMJSUNP, or My Very Educated Mother Just Sent Us Nine Pizzas.
- Test yourself. Test your memory and understanding by giving yourself mini-quizzes with this self-test:
- read over your notes
- cover them up with a sheet of paper or another book.
- now recite aloud, or in your head, what you have just read, paraphrasing when possible.
- check the facts. Did you remember everything? Pay attention to any missed facts or examples. Chances are, if you missed any now, you’ll miss them on the test too.
- Hit the sheets. Studying for a test is a lot of mental work. By getting a good night’s sleep, your brain has plenty of time to properly organize and store what you’ve studied so that you’ll remember everything at test-time.
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It’s Time to Lose Sleep Over Not Getting Enough Sleep
So your kid wants to stay up an extra hour. Whether that extra hour is for TV, video games, computer time, or to complete homework, that lost hour of sleep can do more than simply make your kid grouchy the next day—it can have substantial impact on academic performance.
A recent article in New Yorker Magazine called Snooze or Lose* compiled findings from a variety of studies on sleep deprivation in children. Across the board, the results from these studies said essentially the exact same thing: a child’s number of sleep hours is directly linked to academic performance.
Children’s brains are in a growth stage until the age of 21, and the majority of that growth occurs while children sleep, so even a short reduction in sleep time—even as little as 15 minutes—can have detrimental impact on academic performance.
Some of the findings from these studies include:
- Standardized test scores among sleep-reduced students were roughly 7 points lower than among students who got a full night sleep
- Measurement tools showed that, during class time, one hour of sleep loss is equivalent to the loss of two years of cognitive growth
- Identification of a link to high school grade points. For teenagers, 15 extra minutes of sleep can mean the difference between an A and a B
Using MRI scans, scientists are able to identify how the brain processes information at night. During the day, each separate area of the brain temporarily absorbs information, similar to a holding tank. During sleep, the day’s absorbed information is processed and relocated to permanent storage areas. And, each stage of sleep plays a different role in the processing of information.
After a particularly grueling day of class—think mental exhaustion—kids need even longer sleep time so that the brain can properly process and store information.
So, as a parent, how regimented should you be regarding bedtimes? If you are like most parents, then a strict bedtime during the week falls by the wayside when Friday hits. But one researcher found that sleep loss is cumulative and another, that every missed hour of weekend sleep creates a cumulative sleep debt.
*Snooze or Lose was written by Po Bronson with files from Ashley Merryman.
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Why is note-taking in class important? In today’s technologically advanced times, class notes are often distributed by the teacher, or available online, even for elementary students. Taking proper notes in class is the first step to stress-free review and can make study time less arduous.
With effective note-taking skills, a student can
- remember easier
- make associations between lessons
- understand better
- spend less time studying
Check out these 6 tips for better in-class note taking.
- Sit front and center. To take detailed notes you have to pay close attention in class. Sit at the front of the classroom. This is a great way to ensure that the teacher sees you, and can slow down while you write. Taking notes while in class—the act of holding a pen to paper is active—and helps to ensure that the brain stays actively focused.
- Think before you write. Note taking doesn’t mean writing down every word that the teacher says. Listen for main ideas, key words, or phrases. If the teacher hands out notes, be sure to write down any examples or concepts that are not included in formal class notes.
- Look and listen for clues. The teacher will often cue any important information that students need to pay extra attention to. Some clues to important information include a change in volume or tone, repetition, emphasis, making a list, or writing materials on the board or the overhead.
- Develop a system. Parents can help children to develop their own system. Use a color-coded system. Black for taking notes in class, blue for your own ideas, and red to summarize what you feel are the key points. Use headings to separate different concepts, and be sure to write the date at the top of every page.
- Use the margins. Leave extra space in the margins or along the top of the page to identify key phrases and the main idea. This is also the place to write down unique ideas, or connections to other lessons.
- Practice paraphrasing—that’s just a fancy way of putting it in your own words. Things will stick in the memory better when they are in your own words. Instead of memorizing the words of the teacher, use your own words to understand the notes. When you understand, you’ll remember. And when you remember, the need to study is reduced.
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