Interland “sweetener”

Google has created a series of games for kids to learn how to “be internet awesome”. It’s called Interland, which one translation dictionary tells me means “international contest” in Dutch.

Here’s a look at the game and the thinking behind it:

Here are a couple of articles about it from the past week’s news:

I played it for a little while yesterday and got to the 3rd level, feeling all the while how bad I am at games like this. I didn’t grow up playing computer games — not because they weren’t available (at least later in my formative years) but just a lack of interest. I do remember having a very good friend who spent entirely too much time playing something called Dark Castle. I got pretty good at that one.

Anyway, I don’t know how successful this game is at teaching people about online safety or digital citizenship, but for people who like games like this, at least it’s not violent. As the Verge article says, it

“seems less like a training tool and more like a sweetener that could get students interested in the material.”

Teach your children well

Here’s a good story about educational videos and programs, and why it’s important to find out what your audience needs and wants. This story includes an article, an audio clip with transcript, and a few short videos.

“When Elmo And Big Bird Talk To Refugees”

(from NPR, 5/5/17)

The goal of this new Sesame Street content is to

‘ “bolster children’s resiliency” as well as improve their language, math and early reading skills.’

And to help children think about inclusivity and in

“understanding that they have big feelings and that there are things they can do to manage those feelings or emotions.”

This makes me think of a folk song from 1969 or 1970: “Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills and Nash. Here’s a live version. (lyrics)

Teachable moments

This article from Education Week has a list of ten “teachable moments” from the first Harry Potter book, which was published 20 years ago. (Wow.) They include:

Breaking the rules is sometimes necessary.

Having rules to break is also necessary.

Learning happens everywhere, we just have to take the time to notice.

Two things you could try with this topic:

  • Find video clips from the movies to add to each (or some) ¬†of the things on the list and explain what’s happending in the video (summary).
  • Go back and read that book or another in the series — or a completely different story or movie — and find your own “teachable moments”

Example:

Here’s a video clip that illustrates part of the first teachable moment and an explanation of what’s happnening:

We don’t choose familial situations, but we can choose to make the most of what we are given.”

Summary:

This is at the beginning of the movie, where we discover what kind of living situation Harry is in. He’s made to sleep in the broom closet and he’s given clothes that don’t fit him. Dudley is his “brother” figure, but he’s a selfish brat. On his birthday, he complains about not getting enough presents, even though the living room is full of them. His parents spoil him and are mean to Harry. We can see from Harry’s expressions how he feels about all this, but he doesn’t do anything to show his anger and frustration.

Becoming a citizen

Becoming a citizen of the U.S. may be something not many people really want to do these days, but this practice civics test for people to become naturalized citizens is a good review for people who are already citizens. I wonder if our current president could pass this test (especially question 9). Here are a few examples:

civics-test-q4

civics-test-q7

civics-test-q8

“Naturalization is the process to voluntarily become a U.S. citizen if you were born outside of the United States. You may be eligible if you can show continuous U.S. residence for three to five years, are at least 18 years old, and demonstrate good moral character and loyalty to the U.S. Constitution. You must also take the English and civics test, unless you qualify for an exemption.” (from the Explore My Options page)

The application process for permanent residents to become citizens is $640. That’s a lot of money.

I was a little nervous taking this practice test. Like a TOEIC or TOEFL test, I should pass with flying colors, right?

i-passed

This story from a couple of years ago said that high school students in one US state had to pass a civics test to graduate. I don’t think this is too much to ask. And I think that people running for president, congress, and any other public office should have to take one.

These are the requirements for becoming a Japanese citizen. Again with the “good moral character”! Where’s the practice test for that? These requirements are pretty much the same as those for becoming a US citizen. Except you’re not allowed to hold dual citizenship in Japan.

becoming-a-japanese-citizen


Writing prompt: What does being a citizen of Japan mean to you? Would you ever give up your Japanese citizenship to become a citizen of another country? Why do you think some immigrants to Japan become naturalized citizens? Do you know any?