Category Archives: FAMILY + KIDS

6 Tips To Make Online Teaching Easier Right Now

April 23, 2020

It is going to be a long time before we ‘Get Ready to Roll Back to School’, and for one group of people teachers – both at school and extracurricular – that means adapting to being a remote educator. Online teaching can be fun and convenient, but it can also be challenging. Not only do you need to have a level of proficiency in remote working technology, but you’ll also need to prepare a different way of teaching compared to your traditional arrangement. For those readers who are teachers we have compiled six tips to make your job easier and to ensure that you can continue working:

1. Learn the tech

First thing is familiarizing yourself with what you need to teach online, such as your computer, internet connection, and the software and platforms you will use. Your computer should be able to handle video software and several high-memory using applications at once. The internet connection must also be fast enough to let you stream videos and make video calls without any lagging as this will affect your ability to teach and host lessons. As for software, your school likely has its own recommendations. But if the choice is yours, either Google Classroom or Edmodo would be perfect, as both have everything you’ll need for an online classroom while being easy to use and understand.

2. Show yourself

One of the tips shared in The Conversation’s article on better online teaching is to show yourself to your students. That’s because lecture videos or discussions showing the instructor’s face has been found to be more effective as opposed to narrated slideshows or PowerPoint presentations. However, you can still intersperse presentations/slides with videos of yourself, as long as these videos are short and informative. Anything over 15 minutes can be slow to download, and even distracting, so make sure everything is “bite-sized” and easy to digest.

3. Leverage asynchronous learning

Harvard Business Publishing identifies asynchronous learning as one of the great benefits of online teaching. This simply means that students have the ability engage in their lessons even when your online class isn’t ongoing. With that in mind, record your lessons, provide the necessary resources, and then assign thought-provoking tasks. Give your students leeway, but do set “hard and clear deadlines.” This keeps you from micromanaging your online class, leaving you with more time to prepare your other lessons and activities.

4. Keep things simple

A drawback of distance learning is that your students will have to tackle things on their own. This will require a great deal of focus and self-direction on their part. So, to make things easier for them, Edutopia suggests keeping things as simple as possible. This means designing learning experiences with clear, specific instructions, utilizing one or two resources only, and providing easily accessible PDF files. It also means being lean and concise with how you deliver new information, as conveying instructions across a screen is very different to doing so face-to-face. In keeping things simple, you’ll avoid over-complicating your lesson plans and activities, as well as unnecessarily confusing your students.

5. Use a good screencasting software

Some teachers aren’t familiar with screencasting software, let alone screencasting itself. Don’t let that be the case, as screencasts can serve as great visual aids. The best in this regard is Screencast-O-Matic, which is #1 in HP’s feature on the best screencasting software for teachers. Affordable and easy to use, Screencast-O-Matic lets you record, edit, and share videos for free. It even has a full version (for a $20 annual fee) that lets you hide your wallpaper when recording giving you added privacy. For a free and equally easy to use alternative, you can try Loom. It is basically like Screencast-O-Matic, but sans the subscription and green screen option. With screencasting, you’ll have plenty of options when making informative and engaging presentations.

6. Stay fluid

Instead of teaching while sitting down, consider teaching while standing and setting your laptop on a higher platform. This way, you can still stay mobile. If you want to take it to the next level, check out our review of balance board FluidStance, an omnidirectional board that lets you tilt to every direction, causing just enough wobble for you to burn calories without getting distracted. The perfect way to teach from home and stay fit at the same time.

 

photo: Julia M. Cameron via Pexels

Level Up Your Work From Home Station With Fluidstance

March 28, 2020

Up your standing desk game now and thank me later, with Fluidstance.

We are trying to figure out this new WFH life. For so many of us – movement has slowed to a halt. Here’s a way to stay fluid and why you should…

WHY: The Science Behind the Balance Board


Your body isn’t made to sit in a chair for 8 hours a day, and you know it. 

Standing to work is better than sitting… but it can still leave you with posture problems, an aching lower back, and stiff knees and ankles.

FluidStance is an “omnidirectional” balance board – they let you tilt from side to side, front to back with 360-degree freedom. There’s just enough wobble to keep you burning calories — but not so much that it’s distracting.

If you want to stand more, choose the only balance boards backed by research from the Mayo Clinic. Your knees, back, and boss will thank you.

We are loving the classic Plane Cloud balance board, in 2 understated colors. It features the same carefully engineered, 360-degree-tilt geometry of their pioneering Level® deck, but with a smaller (and softer) footprint.

Stand comfortably for longer on the Plane Cloud’s cushy, textured foam top. Your natural micro-movements on this board will strengthen and stabilize your body, soothe stiff joints, burn calories, and keep you awake and alert — even through the overwhelming urge to curl up under your desk after lunch.

The Plane Cloud is made from 100% recycled materials, helping reduce landfill waste. Treat your feet AND be kind to the Earth? Talk about a win-win.

Also! Extruded plastic sourced from 100% post-industrial recycled materials used for the base of The Plane.

The FluidStance team has created a code for you guys!

It is GROOMED_15 and offers a 15% discount off the Level, Original and Plane Cloud decks!

The code is valid till April 30 for the time being. 

Smarty Pants – Wellness For Kids

With our ever-changing lives flipped upside down, we are home and focusing on our wellness more than ever. At-home workouts, recipes and more are inundating our inbox and I was excited to learn about SmartyPants a leader in whole family wellness, led by fellow mom Courtney Nichols Gould who launched the brand while on a mission to simplify health without sacrificing quality.

The product line currently consists of toddler, kids, teens, prenatal, women’s, men’s and 50+ with baby launching soon. As part of their commitment to the consumer’s health and best interest in mind, SmartyPants bases their formulas on the daily recommended intakes of nutrients as advised by the latest scientific research, their scientific advisory board and the most up-to-date recommendations by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences (formerly the Institute of Medicine).

The brand just announced their expansion with the launch of their newest product – Baby Multi & DHA—the first baby multivitamin with omega-3 DHA and lutein, designed to focus on cognitive development and healthy growth for the first years of life. The new product completes the company’s extensive vision to provide cutting-edge, science-backed supplements for all stages of life, from pre-natal through 50+.

The pediatrician-designed liquid supplement (naturally flavored) is made for children 6 – 24 months and includes 13 premium nutrients including omega-3 DHA essential fatty acids (from algal oil) for brain and eye health, vitamin D3 for bone health, vitamin C for immunity, and lutein, choline and iodine for cognitive development — all in one delicious serving without any artificial colors and flavors. SmartyPants designed its Baby Multi & DHA to help in the critical transition from breast milk and formula to a diet that emphasizes solid foods. SmartyPants focused on developing its product so it included important nutrients such as DHA, lutein, and choline as these nutrients become less prevalent in their primary food sources.

In our current climate, it is always important to give back, and SmartyPants isn’t short of that philosophy. For every bottle sold, a 1•for•1 nutrient grant is made to Vitamin Angels to help get life-changing nutrients to mothers, children and babies in need around the world. To-date, SmartyPants has made over 12 million grants, making it Vitamin Angels’ largest brand contributor.

SmartyPants Baby Multi & DHA will be available on Amazon and in the vitamin aisle of Target and other retailers early April.

For more information, please visit www.smartypantsvitamins.com.

Get Outside – Your Health Depends On It!

March 5, 2020

As you get outside this spring, have you ever considered how our green spaces contribute to our health? Studies show that green space and landscaping contribute to health, happiness, and intellect.

It’s natural to long for spring when it’s cold outside. But did you know, there’s a good reason why you may pine for green? Living landscapes are an important part of the outdoor lifestyle that Americans enjoy, but the benefits go beyond the barbeque and backyard baseball. Green spaces are necessary for your health.

“The advantages of grass and landscaping surpass the usual physical benefits that result from outdoor activity,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO, Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI). “Numerous studies have found that people who spend more time outside or are exposed to living landscapes are happier, healthier and smarter. As you get ready to get outside this spring with your lawn mower and other outdoor power equipment, it’s great to know being outside is good for you.

Researchers have studied the impact of nature on human well-being for years, but recent studies have found a more direct correlation between human health, particularly related to stress, and the importance of people’s access to nature and managed landscapes.

Getting dirty is actually good for you. Soil is the new Prozac, according to Dr. Christopher Lowry, a neuroscientist at the University of Bristol in England. Mycobacterium vaccae in soil mirrors the effect on neurons that Prozac provides. The bacterium stimulates serotonin production, which explains why people who spend time gardening, doing yard work, and have direct contact with soil feel more relaxed and happier.

Children who are raised on farms in a “dirtier” environment than an urban setting not only have a stronger immune system but are also better able to manage social stress, according to the National Academy of Sciences.

Living near living landscapes can improve your mental health. Researchers in England found that people moving to greener areas experienced an immediate improvement in mental health that was sustained for at least three years after they moved. The study also showed that people relocating to a more developed area suffered a drop in mental health.

Greening of vacant urban areas in Philadelphia reduced feelings of depression by 41.5% and reduced poor mental health by 62.8% for those living near the vacant lots, according to a study by a research team.

Green spaces can make you healthier too. People who live within a half mile of green space (such parks, public gardens, and greenways) were found to have a lower incidence of fifteen diseases by Dutch researchers — including depression, anxiety, heart disease, diabetes, asthma and migraines.

A 2015 study found that people living on streets with more trees had a boost in heart and metabolic health. Studies show that tasks conducted under the calming influence of nature are performed better and with greater accuracy, yielding a higher quality result. Spending time in gardens, for instance, can improve memory performance and attention span by 20%.

Living landscapes make you smarter. Children gain attention and working memory benefits when they are exposed to greenery, says a study led by Payam Dadvand of the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, In addition, exposure to natural settings may be widely effective in reducing attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms in children.

This applies to adults as well. Research has also shown that being around plants helps you concentrate better at home and at work. Charlie Hall, Ellison Chair in International Floriculture believes that spending time in gardens can improve attention span and memory performance by as much as 20 percent.

A National Institute of Health study found that adults demonstrate significant cognitive gains after going on a nature walk. In addition, a Stanford University study found that walking in nature, rather than a concrete-oriented, urban environment, resulted in decreased anxiety, rumination, and negative affect, and produced cognitive benefits, such as increased working memory performance.

Living landscapes help you heal faster. Multiple studies have discovered that plants in hospital recovery rooms or views of aesthetically-pleasing gardens help patients heal up to one day faster than those who are in more sterile or austere environments.

Physicians are now prescribing time outdoors for some patients, according to recent reports. Park Rx America is a non-profit with a mission to encourage physicians to prescribe doses of nature.

All of these benefits reinforce the importance of maintaining our yards, parks and other community green spaces. Trees, shrubs, grass, and flowering plants are integral to human health. Not only do they provide a place for kids and pets to play, they directly contribute to our mental and physical well-being.

LES MILLS’ BORN TO MOVE is Inspiring Young People to Fall in Love with Fitness

February 26, 2019

I’ve recently had the chance to experience a trial period of Les Mills On Demand which is created to make exercise effective, motivating and accessible at home. I ended up trying a class with my daughter and she loved it. I began looking for more videos that she might like when I discovered a program made specifically for kids! Les Mills’ has a series of classes created specifically for kids titled BORN TO MOVE™. It is designed to encourage movement and to help shape a positive and healthy attitude towards fitness beginning from a young age. Les Mills is taking steps to put a stop to the cycle of inactivity, bad habits and inspire a lifelong love of fitness sparking energy and positive self-esteem. Kids have a natural need to move and keep active and BORN TO MOVE is a fun way to inspire them to do this. 
 
Les Mills has a completely free set of programs that are all available online and tailored toward kids ages 2-16. The programs are separated into five age groups, starting with toddlers through to young teens. Each program specifically designed to make that age group inspired to get moving and most of all to have fun. Videos for small children apply imagination and exploration while classes for teens use top 40 music hits and exercises athletic skills including dance and martial arts. 
 

Les Mills designed the programs using extensive research and world class training to help develop healthier habits at a young age. Les Mills Chief Creative Officer states, “The early years of life are a critical window to form positive habits. That’s why we’ve developed BORN TO MOVE. We want to instil a love of being active in children so they can grow into active, healthy and happy adults.” 

Even better the Born to Move videos are free and available on LesMills.com making it accessible to parents encourage their kids to fall in love with physical activity. To access BORN TO MOVE videos visit https://www.lesmills.com/borntomove

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