Each January brings a renewed desire to challenge ourselves and learn something new. But by February the energy starts to wane. Becoming proficient at something takes too much time, we lose motivation to practice, we struggle to pay attention in class after a long day at work — the list of reasons goes on.
I recently came across some motivation to stick with a new pursuit. A few weeks ago I read an article in the New York Times about “superagers,” people who function at extremely high levels (academically, professionally, and physically) well into their eighties. Their performance on tests of memory and concentration is comparable to people one-third their age.
All the superagers engaged in difficult physical and mental tasks, such as tennis or bridge, regularly. By pushing themselves into challenging efforts that were outside their comfort zones, rather than engaging in leisurely…
As the United States watches a new administration take over the White House after a contentious election year, a wave of social and political activism has swept the country. For generations, young people all over the world have taken an interest in social justice and found the courage to fight for their own rights and the rights of others. Here are eight inspiring middle grade books that prove you’re never too young to stand up for what you believe in and make a difference.
The Breadwinner Trilogy, by Deborah Ellis This series follows 11-year-old Parvana, who lives under Taliban rule in Afghanistan. When her father is arrested and her family is left without someone who can work or even shop for food, Parvana, forbidden to earn money as a girl, disguises herself as…
For the past few years, there has been notable research on how technology (e.g., digital devices, laptops, television) disrupts student sleep patterns—and student success (or not) in school. A recent meta-analysis of 20 studies, Association Between Portable Screen-Based Media Device Access or Use and Sleep Outcomes, published by JAMA Pediatrics, sheds more light on this “major public-health concern” for students. Attention-stealing devices like televisions, computers, MP3 players, and cell phones are largely to blame.
The study, covering more than 125,000 children, determined there was a “strong and consistent association between bedtime media-device use and inadequate sleep quantity, poor sleep quality, and excessive daytime sleepiness.” Almost 90% of teens have at least one device in their bedrooms, and most use those devices in the hour before going to bed. Such children are twice as likely to not sleep enough and 40%…
Nobody said that raising an adolescent was easy, and schooling one is even more of a challenge! Parents are taking on a lot of school responsibility, and let’s face it — things are different than they used to be. How are parents supposed to know how to handle the homework load without some guidance?
Take studying, for example. If you are a parent of a struggling or resistant learner, you’ve probably heard more than one person suggest, “She just needs to study more.” Most kids think this means filling in a study guide or rereading a chapter. But many don’t learn by writing or reading. Their strengths lie in the visual, kinesthetic, musical, or social realm. How, then, are we to help our children develop their studying skills?
According to a poll from the National Alliance for Youth Sports, around 70 percent of kids in the United States stop playing organized sports by the age of 13 because “it’s just not fun anymore.” I have three kids, all of whom play sports, and my oldest is about to turn 13. I may not have understood why this was happening a few years ago, but sadly, knowing what I know now, the mass exodus of 13-year-olds from organized sports makes perfect sense to me.
“It’s not fun anymore” isn’t the problem; it’s a consequence of a number of cultural, economic and systemic issues that result in our kids turning away from organized sports at a time when they could benefit from them the most. Playing sports offers everything from physical activity, experiencing success…
— Each word must be pronounced and defined, and the part of speech must be given. Please don’t forget: every year we have to disqualify many who fail to heed this rule.
— All definitions must come from either the Word of the Day or Vocabulary.com. If there are several definitions, you may use just the first one if you like.
— You must be 13 to 19 years old, but can be from anywhere in the world.
— Your video should be no more than 15 seconds, but can be shorter.
— You can work alone, with a partner or in a group, but only one submission per student, please, whether you’re working alone or with others.
— Use your imagination. You can act the word out, animate it, use puppets, draw, sing a song, create a dance, incorporate photographs, create a Claymation, or anything else that will help viewers understand and learn your word.
— Post a link to the video in our comments section with the name or names of everyone who worked on the video. We will watch the videos first to make sure they are appropriate before we approve your comment, so don’t worry if you don’t see your link for a day or two.
— Please make sure your video is public so that we can see it without a password.
— The contest ends on Feb. 28 at 7 a.m. Eastern time.
Of course, please follow the Terms of Service for whatever platform you use.
Q. Where can I look for inspiration?
A. Your first stop should be the posts featuring our 2016, 2014 and 2013 winners.
But if you’d like to learn more about developing vocabulary through multimodal expression, you might read some of the work of Prof. Bridget Dalton. In this article for Literacy Beat, she describes the step-by-step process she went through with her graduate students to have them create short videos.
Q. How can I choose a word, then learn enough about it to make a video?
Next, look up the word by putting it, along with the phrase “Word of the Day,” into our search, which you can find if you scroll down past the band that features our Lesson Plan subject areas. Read the entry to learn its definition, see how it has been used in The Times, and take a quick quiz to ensure you understand it.
You might next head to the Vocabulary.com dictionary, where you’ll find a friendly explanation and a rich supply of authentic usage examples from both current and classic sources.
Take a look at the entries for gnarled and disenfranchise— both from the Word of the Day — as examples. Once you have a handle on the word’s meaning and how it is commonly used, you can start to think about the most effective way to teach that word in a 15-second video.
Thank you for participating. Post the link to your video, along with the name or names of all those who worked on it, in the comments field.
You can also post your questions there, and we’ll answer them as soon as we can.
And if you want to know what other challenges we’ll be featuring on our site this year, check our contest calendar.
The challenge of growing up in the digital age is perfectly epitomized by the “bikini rule.”
“You can post a bikini or bathing suit picture only if you are with your siblings or your family in the picture,” said one middle-school girl participating in a focus group on digital media. In other words, don’t try too hard to be sexy, and you will be O.K. in the eyes of your peers.
By high school, the rules change. At that stage, a bikini picture often is acceptable — and even considered “body positive” in some circles.
As an educational consultant, I lead workshops on digital media at schools around the country, giving me an unusual glimpse into the hidden world of middle and high school students. While parents sometimes impose rules for using…