Citizenship goes digital: Online gaming effective in teaching civics

Can playing online video games help students learn civics education? According to Baylor University researchers, the answer is yes. Brooke Blevins, Ph.D., assistant professor of curriculum and instruction and Karon LeCompte, Ph.D., assistant professor of curriculum and instruction in Baylor’s School of Education studied the effectiveness of iCivics, a free online website founded by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor that teaches civics concepts using 19 educational games.The study, published in The Journal of Social Studies Research, shows iCivics is an effective tool for teaching civics concepts to primary and middle school students.As part of the study, more than 250 students in two Waco-area school districts played iCivics games for six weeks, twice a week for 30 minutes. Students took pre-tests and post-tests and completed journal entries on their experience.”Students’ scores on a test of civic knowledge significantly improved after playing iCivics for the sample as a whole,” LeCompte said.Statistically, most of the grades showed improvement in their civics education, but with younger students exhibiting the most gains.”Students in grades 5 and 8 showed improvement in test scores with eight-grade students scoring nearly five points higher on both,” Blevins said. “Students in fourth grade showed a marked improvement of nearly 10 points, the highest out of all of the grades.”High school seniors’ post-tests remained static with no improvement, but as LeCompte noted the iCivics games were designed for students in sixth through eighth grade.Additionally, Blevins and LeCompte conducted interviews with teachers about their experiences and observations of students playing the games.”Teachers indicated that their students loved the games and learned without even realizing they were learning complex civics concepts,” Blevins said.In today’s digital world, youth are growing up using the latest technology and tools. This research study has important implications for the future of online gaming and technology in the classroom.Blevins and LeCompte found that teachers serve as important gatekeepers in determining how civics education is taught in their classrooms, including moving towards an environment that “embraces the skills of today’s digital natives.””Regardless of state and national policy towards social studies assessments, teachers can and should focus on providing meaningful learning opportunities that are inclusive of civics education,” LeCompte said.The iCivics games consist of several modules that include citizenship and participation (Activate), The Constitution and Bill of Rights (Do I Have a Right, Immigration Nation, Argument Wars), budgeting (People’s Pie), separation of power (Branches of Power), political campaigning (Win the White House), local government (Counties Work), the Executive branch (Executive Command), the Legislative branch (Lawcraft, Represent Me), and the Judicial Branch (We the Jury, Supreme Decision). Each module has different games to teach the concepts presented in the modules.Students were able to answer questions and respond to various scenarios presented in the games. In Immigration Nation, students were able to grant entry to people based on immigration laws. To learn how taxes are collected and budgets are created, students played People’s Pie and had to determine corporate, payroll and income taxes, decide what federal program to fund or eliminate from the budget, and respond to upset citizens based on funding decisions.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Baylor University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Curious Critters Volume Two by David FitzSimmons

Product was received to facilitate this review of Curious Critters. All opinions are my own.A couple of years ago we received the book Curious Critters by David FitzSimmons. Ryan was young and we were still reading basic board books, but this book quickly became a favorite. It was a must-read every day—or, really, like 12 times a day, haha. He was fascinated by the large and bright photographs, the interesting animals, and learning all of their names.Curious Critters by David FitzSimmonsI was thrilled to hear that a second edition was coming out: Curious Critters Volume Two! Of course we HAD to have it! Check out their website to see the books and sample pages. It also has lots of fun stuff: coloring pages and word …

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Susan Vento, Wife of Deceased Congressman and Mesothelioma Victim Bruce Vento, Expresses Her Strong Opposition to the So-Called “FACT Act”

Susan Vento lost her husband in October of 2000, just eight months after he had been diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Susan’s husband was Democratic Congressman Bruce Vento of Minnesota who served as a United States Representative for 24 years and devoted his work in the government to environmental and homeless causes. When he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, he began championing asbestos victims’ rights and was committed to raising awareness for mesothelioma and the urgent need for research funding.Recently, Susan and many others whose lives have been turned upside down by asbestos disease were eager to offer testimony to lawmakers in opposition to House Resolution 982, the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act”. They were told they would get the opportunity to do so, but instead Susan and the …

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Register Today for The 2nd Annual 5k Walk/Hike for Meso, Only 10 Days Away!

The 2nd Annual5k Walk/Hike for Meso at the Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills is just 10 days away! If you haven’t registered yet, head on over here to sign up as an individual or as part of a team.So far over $32,000 has been raised and we are still ten days away from the event – well on our way to reaching this year’s goal of $70,000!Up for live auction at the event is the unique and special experience of a tour of Fire Station 92, and dinner for four prepared by Station 92’s very own firefighters!Items up for raffle include gift certificates for dance lessons at Arthur Murray Dance Studios, a Sterling Wine Tour for four at Sterling Vineyards in Calistoga, gift certificates for …

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Clutter Video Tip: How to Deal with Disorganized Family Members, Part 2 (Kids!)

Helping your Little Bo Peep find her sheep can be frustrating. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t get your Little Boy Blue to finally blow his horn without nagging him. Making your son or daughter pick up toys can be as hard as putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. Watch this video to help your kids be more organized and make your home feel more like the house that Jack built. You may even feel satisfied enough to jump over the moon (or run away with a spoon).(Click here to watch on YouTube if you can’t see the embedded player. Or watch the video at http://bit.ly/tcdfamily2.) PLEASE HELP: “LIKE”-ing, sharing, and commenting on these Clutter Video Tip videos on YouTube really …

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State Marijuana Legalization: The Opposing Voices

Repeating Our Alcohol Mistakes? A recent article in the always insightful Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Weekly, edited by Alison Knopf, concerns itself with the voices speaking out against Attorney General Holder’s announcement that federal authorities would not interfere with state efforts to legalize marijuana. It’s no secret that we here at Addiction Inbox have been longtime advocates for decriminalization along Dutch lines. So it’s high time we heard from some prominent dissenters on this issue.Kevin A. Sabet, Ph.D., director of Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) and former White House advisor on marijuana policy: “It’s the same thing with alcohol: The marijuana industry is giving lip service, saying that they don’t want kids to use.”Sue Thau, public policy consultant for Community Anti-Drug Coalitions …

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Turned the corner! Back in control! Day 4 of chemo!

Day 4 of chemo today (gemcidibine and carboplatin) and feeling BACK IN CONTROL of my life!!!Feeling totally different on this chemo regime instead of the gemcidibine (gemzar) and cisplatin. Virtually no pain – whereas on the cisplatin I felt like I was close to death.I have been able to manage my side effects with medication, my mind and best of all being able to use my lifeline the computer to email/blog/facebook and keep in touch on a global scale.I don’t want to keep having chemo however I am being given a lifeline so I am giving it my best shot and WINNING as I am back in control of my life!My heart goes out to the warriors who are doing it tough at …

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Clutter Video Tip: Is Your House Too Small?

Do you feel like your home is too small? Are you trying to keep up with the Jones’s instead of just keeping up with your stuff? Good things really do come in small packages. But you also don’t want to feel like a small fish in a big pond. Watch this video for tips on how not to sweat the small stuff and to be thankful for small mercies.(Click here to watch on YouTube if you can’t see the embedded player. Or watch the video at http://bit.ly/tcdsqfoot.)PLEASE HELP: “LIKE”-ing, sharing, and commenting on these Clutter Video Tip videos on YouTube really helps me a lot to get the word out about the information we have to offer. If you like it, …

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5 Patients Dead in 2 Years: Is Dr. Drew to Blame for the Loss of Celebrities From Celebrity Rehab?

5 Patients Dead in 2 Years: Is Dr. Drew to Blame for the Loss of Celebrities From Celebrity Rehab?October 6th 2013 | By: Staff | Posted In: Drugs and Alcohol, Recent NewsCritics of Dr. Drew Pinsky (known to viewers as just Dr. Drew) say that rehabilitation should be a private matter and not one that is aired on radio or television. With the recent suicide of Mindy McCready, former country singer, Dr. Drew has found himself the subject of a sudden onslaught of outrage. Many say that his televised rehab reality show is tantamount to exploitation and may only exacerbate the problems of his troubled patients.Ms. McCready was on Dr. Drew’s VH1 reality show Celebrity Rehab and is the fifth participant of that show to die due to…

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Remembering to remember supported by two distinct brain processes

Aug. 15, 2013 — You plan on shopping for groceries later and you tell yourself that you have to remember to take the grocery bags with you when you leave the house. Lo and behold, you reach the check-out counter and you realize you’ve forgotten the bags.Remembering to remember — whether it’s grocery bags, appointments, or taking medications — is essential to our everyday lives. New research sheds light on two distinct brain processes that underlie this type of memory, known as prospective memory.The research is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.To investigate how prospective memory is processed in the brain, psychological scientist Mark McDaniel of Washington University in St. Louis and colleagues had participants lie in an fMRI scanner and asked them to press one of two buttons to indicate whether a word that popped up on a screen was a member of a designated category. In addition to this ongoing activity, participants were asked to try to remember to press a third button whenever a special target popped up. The task was designed to tap into participants’ prospective memory, or their ability to remember to take certain actions in response to specific future events.When McDaniel and colleagues analyzed the fMRI data, they observed that two distinct brain activation patterns emerged when participants made the correct button press for a special target.When the special target was not relevant to the ongoing activity — such as a syllable like “tor” — participants seemed to rely on top-down brain processes supported by the prefrontal cortex. In order to answer correctly when the special syllable flashed up on the screen, the participants had to sustain their attention and monitor for the special syllable throughout the entire task. In the grocery bag scenario, this would be like remembering to bring the grocery bags by constantly reminding yourself that you can’t forget them.When the special target was integral to the ongoing activity — such as a whole word, like “table” — participants recruited a different set of brain regions, and they didn’t show sustained activation in these regions. The findings suggest that remembering what to do when the special target was a whole word didn’t require the same type of top-down monitoring. …

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Physical inactivity, poor diet and smoking linked to disability in older population

July 24, 2013 — An unhealthy lifestyle is associated with a greater likelihood of developing disability over the age of 65, with the risk increasing progressively with the number of unhealthy behaviours, suggests a new article.Disability is commonly defined as “difficulty or dependency in carrying out activities essential to independent living.” With the number of disabled people expected to increase in coming years, researchers feel there is a need to define preventive strategies and slow this progression.Previous research has shown that unhealthy behaviours (such as physical inactivity, poor diet, smoking) have an adverse effect on health. For instance, the risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, poor cognitive function, stroke, sudden cardiac death and mortality increases with the number of unhealthy behaviours.Researchers from France and the UK therefore carried out a study to investigate the relationship between unhealthy behaviours and the risk of disability over a 12 year period.They used data from the Three-City (3C) Dijon cohort study. Between 1999 and 2001, the study included community-dwelling older people (more than 65 years old) from the city of Dijon (France); participants were interviewed at that time about their lifestyle, including information on smoking, diet, physical activity, and alcohol drinking. They were then followed for the incidence of disability over 12 years.Three levels of disability were assessed: mobility, instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) and basic activities of daily living (ADL). Mobility assessed the ability to do heavy work around the house, walk half a mile, and climb stairs. IADLs included the ability to use a telephone, manage medications and money, use public or private transport, and do shopping, and, additionally for women, to prepare meals and do housework and laundry. ADLs included bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring from bed to chair and eating. Participants were considered disabled if they could not perform at least one activity without any given level of help.Low or intermediate physical activity, consumption of fruit and vegetables less than once a day, smoking (current or having quit smoking less than 15 years ago), and no (abstention or former) or heavy consumption of alcohol were all considered as unhealthy behaviours. Characteristics were also identified that may influence the relation between unhealthy behaviours and disability such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, high BMI and cancer.The final study included 3,982 participants of which 2,410 were women (60.5%).During the follow-up, 1,236 out of 3,982 (31%) participants developed disability. The incidence of disability increased with age, from 3.4/1000 person-years in those aged 65-70 years to 288/1000 person-years in those over 90 years of age. …

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Live fast, die young: Long-lived mice are less active, biologists find

July 4, 2013 — Female mice with a high life expectancy are less active and less explorative. They also eat less than their fellow females with a lower life expectancy. Behavioral biologists from the University of Zurich reveal that there is a correlation between longevity and personality for female house mice, and a minimum amount of boldness is necessary for them to survive.Risky behavior can lead to premature death — in humans. Anna Lindholm and her doctoral student Yannick Auclair investigated whether this also applies to animals by studying the behavior of 82 house mice. They recorded boldness, activity level, exploration tendency and energy intake of female and male house mice with two different allelic variants on chromosome 17, thereby testing predictions of “life-history theory” on how individuals invest optimally in growth and reproduction. According to this theory, individuals with a greater life expectancy will express reactive personality traits and will be shy, less active and less explorative than individuals with a lower survival expectation.Is personality reflected in life expectancy?Female mice of the t haplotype, one of the two genetic variants on chromosome 17, are known to live longer. The t haplotype in house mice is a naturally occurring selfish genetic element that is transmitted to 90 percent of the offspring by t carrying males. Embryos that inherit a t copy from both parents, however, die before birth. With his experiment, Yannick Auclair wanted to investigate whether there was a correlation between this selfish genetic element and the personality of the mice.Live fast, die young — even in miceThe researchers reveal that the longer-lived t haplotype females are less active than the shorter-lived non-carrier females. They also consume less food, are less explorative and thus express reactive personality traits favouring cautiousness and energy conservation, as predicted by theory. …

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Mice in a ‘Big Brother’ setup develop social structures

June 17, 2013 — How does a social animal — mouse or human — gain dominance over his or her fellow creatures? A unique experiment conducted by Dr. Tali Kimchi and her team in the Weizmann Institute’s Neurobiology Department provides some unusual insight into the social behavior that enables a social hierarchy, complete with a head honcho, to form.Kimchi and her research team, Aharon Weissbrod, Genady Wasserman and Alex Shapiro, together with Dr. Ofer Feinerman of the Institute’s Physics of Complex Systems Department, developed a system that enabled them to observe a large group of animals living together in semi-natural conditions. This setup was a sort of mouse version of the television show Big Brother. Different strains of mice were placed in the “house” — a four-meter-square pen — and allowed to go about their lives with no intervention from the human team. To automatically track the mice day and night, each mouse was implanted with an ID chip similar to those used in pet cats and dogs, and video cameras were placed strategically around the area with infrared lighting that enabled nighttime filming. With the combined chip reporting and continuous video footage, the system could automatically keep tabs on each individual mouse, knowing its precise location down to the half centimeter, in measurements that were recorded thirty times a second for days and sometimes even months on end.Because the information they obtained was so precise, the team was able to identify dozens of individual behaviors — eating, drinking, running, sleeping, hiding, etc. — as well as social behaviors — seeking out specific companions for activities or rest, avoiding certain individuals, attacking others, and more. The researchers found that it was possible to isolate and identify typical behaviors of individuals, pairs and groups. …

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