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Back to school symphony – try this at home!

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Can you hear that? If you’re like us over at NXHQ, it’s the sound of quietly starting that second leg of a long journey, one foot in front of the other, in the calm morning air. And while there is MUCH to be said for the sounds of children’s laughter, happy chatter and constant questions—there is also MUCH to be said for—.

John Cage’s 4:33

‘Everything we do is music’- John Cage

Enjoy getting back into the routine everyone!

3 awesome Christmas gifts for kids, families & teachers

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With only a couple weeks now until the Jolly Old Elf is set to make his annual visit, we thought we’d give you a selection of a few Nexed-approved holiday gifts. With a range in cost from the always affordable (free!) to the less so…

GIFT AWESOMENESS #1
App: Show Me
PRICE: Free!!!

Ahhh, the Apple App store. So much to chew on here, and so much of it is priced very well for the budget-conscious. But it gets hard to choose what exactly is worth the time to investigate and what is fluff. Because fluff takes up valuable memory ;)

Now, when we say free, we are assuming that you have the fairly costly, but also fairly AWESOME, iPad. The App that we are talking about here is called ‘Show Me; it’s available free and only for the iPad right now. It basically turns your iPad into an interactive whiteboard, which can be written on like any other, either using stylus or finger. You can import images onto the whiteboard and draw on top of them. But the KICKER with this app, and why we have used it at home with our own kids, is that you can record sessions or lessons with voice-over in real time as you draw on the whiteboard. What we like to do is do a full on role reversal”flip the kids and the teachers, and we‘ve seen some pretty AMAZING results. With ‘Show Me it’s all about the sharing, and THIS is what makes it so attractive to the kids. They can see what they’ve worked on, watch it play back to them and then share their Show Me’s with any of their friends through social media or email. Check out my son working on his 3 Times tables! He‘s writing them out ‘old school, but what got him uber-excited was the thought that he could then teach his friends with the lesson he created.

 

eton hand crankGIFT AWESOMENESS #2
Hand Crank Mobile Device Charger
PRICE: $50

Our next suggestion does ramp up the price a little”but it’s coolness factor more than makes up for it! It comes from a company called Eton. Now, we‘ve all seen those hand-crank ‘flashlights, and seen how when our kids get a hold of them they can’t get enough! Well, this is a hand crank mobile device charger. They say that 1 minute of cranking gets you a 30 second phone call or a ‘few crucial texts. And we ALL know how crucial those 3 letter texts can be for our tweens and teens”LOL.

 

kobotapestriesGIFT AWESOMENESS #3
The Arc E-Reader From Kobo
PRICE: $199

Lastly, and this might be more of a whole-family-to- share type gift due to the price, but we HAD to mention it. Firstly because it’s WAY cool, but also because it’s WAY Canadian, born and bred in the Great White North! It’s the newest e-reader from Kobo, the Arc. Kobo has taken it up a big ol’ notch with this reader, and this has brought them into the realm of the full on tablet. But what we really find all that about the Arc are the ‘tapestries. Think of these as your PC’s or Mac’s ‘folders but done tablet-style! Kobo says you ‘Create your own experience! Basically what the Arc lets you do is organize your books, magazine and newspaper articles, websites, music, movies within a specific ‘theme or ‘tapestry. Pretty nifty, huh?

And what we over here at Nexed HQ can see happening in the very near future is putting these VERY affordable tablets/e-readers into the eager hands of a teacher and a classroom.

Imagine a teacher asking their class to investigate, for example, the history of the parliament buildings in Ottawa (as long as we’re talking Canada here, eh?). One group looking for web based articles, another for still images, another for video, another for e-books… and then all groups collecting them together in a ‘Class Tapestry that can then be saved, shared, edited and added to. We think that’s pretty AWESOME, and are super proud that it’s got the maple leaf etched into it‘s back cover (well not really, but you get the idea;)!

So better stay on the ‘good list”plenty of tech toys out there to keep you and your kids creative and collaborating this holiday season and beyond!

Helping Autistic Children Communicate through Tablets

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Over at Nexed HQ, we’ve been following a fascinating series in the Toronto Star examining Autism. The Autism Project is a multi-media effort by Toronto Star reporters, photographers and videographers – in print, online and social media – to document autistic lives in all their many stages.

Check out the Toronto Star’s very cool video about using tablets to help autistic children communicate more effectively.