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Big Learning News 7-6-04

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 2:27 July 13, 2004

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Table of Contents

Activity: News for Kids
Book Review: Draw 3-D
Web Site: Figure This! Family Math
Education Headlines on BigLearning.org


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Activity
News for Kids

If the grown-up paper is still too big or scary for your kids, you can help them stay informed. Here are some news sites written especially for grade-school age kids.

Time for Kids: Produced by Time Magazine and written by teenagers, the articles are straightforward and engaging. The site includes US national news and features. http://www.timeforkids.com/TFK/index.html.

Kids Newsroom: While Time for Kids puts a kid-friendly slant on adult stories, Kids Newsroom stories tend to deal with topics of direct interest to kids. The site also has a great HTML tutorial. http://www.kidsnewsroom.org

CBBC Newsaround: British site with national and world news and features. The subject matter includes stories of violence and other difficult topics and so may be more appropriate for older kids. On the other hand, you have the choice of listening to each story rather than reading it, which is a feature younger kids might enjoy. http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/

If your kids enjoy these sites, they may enjoy making their own news show or newspaper based on what they read. Or, using the tutorial at Kids Newsroom, they can learn to creat a news site themselves.

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Book Review

Draw 3-D: A step-by-step guide to perspective drawing by Doug DuBosque (Peel Productions, 1999).

Ages 9 and up

I'm told that in some countries, it is taken for granted that everyone can draw. Real drawing instruction is part of everyone's schooling and as a result, nearly everyone actually can draw. Here, drawing is seen as a mystical province of the talented. So I always appreciate books like Draw 3-D that just come out and tell the reader, in technical detail, how to go about creating a good drawing.

The book starts with simple drawings that use a single vanishing point, and moves on to more complex ones with multiple vanishing points. Each exercise leaves room for the artist's creative touches, but shows you how to get the technical details right. There are even pages showing common mistakes and how to correct them.

Buying information

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Web Site
Figure This!

http://www.figurethis.org

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has developed a great set of real-world type math challenges for families to do together. They provide great practice in pulling together different math (say, estimating and multiplying) in the same problem. For example, the first challenge asks you to estimate how long you'll have to wait in line at a ticket booth if you're the 300th person in line. To solve it, you have to estimate the time it takes to sell each ticket and multiply that by the number of people in line. The site doesn't reveal the solution technique unless you click on "hint" or "answer."

The folks at NCTM really went all out with these challenges, providing help, solutions, and new problems to solve for each challenge. For the standing-in-line challenge, you get to think about a related problem: how many ticket sellers would you need to sell 600 tickets in a half-hour? There's a page of fun facts about lines and waiting in line, and things to try when you're waiting in an actual line.

The site is oriented toward middle school (12-14 year olds) but with help younger kids can solve many of the problems.

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Education News on BigLearning.org

Are Schools Leaving Arts Behind? The Council for Basic Education reported recently that schools are spending less time on the arts since the No Child Left Behind law went into effect. Many prominent education organizations are working draw attention to the importance of arts education.

Imaginations Run Wild at Penbroke Elementary: This summer program gives kids a chance to put academics to work on interesting design problems.

High Tech High School: This high school's small size, real-world technology emphasis, and other factors combine to create a college-bound graduating class.

These and more at http://www.biglearning.org .

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