Friday Link Roundup

Free Spirit's Friday Link Roundup

Educators and parents this week are faced with the difficult task of talking with children about the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris, Baghdad, and Beirut. To help, Cool Mom Picks has scoured the Internet and pulled together an annotated list of the best online resources for parents, teachers, and other caregivers on how to talk with kids about tragedy. The article includes hotlines offering help, too.

And, while some American politicians (and citizens) are calling for the United States to close its borders to Muslim refugees, it’s heartening to see that an increasing number of U.S. schools are choosing inclusiveness by observing Muslim holidays.

For the New York Times, Julie Scelfo writes about “Teaching Peace in Elementary School.” As Free Spirits have long known, social-emotional learning is correlated with improved outcomes in students’ lives. According to one expert: “We, as a country, want our kids to achieve more academically, but we can’t do this if our kids aren’t emotionally healthy.”

Here’s one simple way to support kids’ social and emotional development: Let them cry.

With Thanksgiving coming up, We Are Teachers provides “15 Ways to Teach Kids Kindness and Gratitude.” It’s sponsored by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital so many of the ideas involve hospital activities and programs, but they can all be universally applied with a little creativity.

If your school will be celebrating Thanksgiving, be sure to provide students with accurate information and avoid harmful stereotypes about indigenous peoples. Teaching Tolerance provides straightforward guidelines for teaching Thanksgiving in a responsible way.

Back at the end of October, President Obama proclaimed November as Native American Heritage Month. Indian Country Today Media Network provides six guidelines for educators and parents who want to talk about Native American heritage with kids.

Here’s a story from NPR about a principal who is improving a troubled school by focusing on attendance. Research shows that chronic absenteeism in elementary school is a red flag for dropping out in high school. Principal Mark Gaither’s community-oriented approach is inspiring.

Speaking of getting kids to school, several schools in Minneapolis are improving achievement by changing how kids get there—with more biking and walking. The activity stimulates the brain and improves focus and mood. Plus, it’s fun.

Are autism spectrum disorders being over diagnosed? Enrico Gnaulati, writing for Salon, thinks so: “That’s not autism: It’s simply a brainy, introverted boy.”

If you want to make writing assignments more authentic, have students blog.

If you want to reduce stress in students, have them do transcendental meditation. (Yes, in class.)

If you want to encourage girls—or any students—to learn to code, sign them up for a free tutorial to learn to build a game based on the new Star Wars movie.

For adults who like video games and books, here’s something fun: In the new Fallout 4 game, players must return overdue library books in order to fully complete the game.

Finally, click here to meet the adorable Peach, the Shedd Aquarium’s latest rescue dog. Happy weekend!

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