Tag Archives: schools

Dude Review: HighView iPad Hangers

Written by: Richard E.D. Jones
Listed in: Charlotte Parent Stay-at-Home Dudes

Sofia Rodriguez was traveling on an airplane and barely made it through an appalling First-World Problem.But that’s not why I’m talking about her here. And it’s not what happened directly after. You see, Sofia decided to use the solution to her First-World Problem to work on solving a Real-World Problem. And that’s important. Read on to find out more.A First-World Problem, for those of you who don’t know, is something that could only go wrong for people who have more money than the vast majority of people throughout the world. Not being able to find the charging cord for my iPhone 6 Plus. . . That’s a First-World Problem. Not having enough to eat. . . That’s a Real-World problem.

So, Sofia was having a real First-World Problem.

“I was on a flight, watching a movie on my iPad when I realized how uncomfortable I was,” she told me in an exclusive e-mail question and answer. “There was no way to watch my movie, be comfortable, and have space on my tray table for food or drinks.”

Yeah. A real First-World Problem. The thing of it is, though, instead of whining about it and complaining on Twitter or Facebook, Sofia decided to do something about it.

“I decided to create a solution. After several months of sketching, designing, and trying out different options, the HighView iPad hanger was born!”

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign that was funded in October, Sofia started up her own company selling the HighView iPad hangers to whoever would buy one.

Which, you know, good and all.

Before we get much further, I do want to say that I’ve spent some time with the HighView iPad hanger and thought it was a really nice solution to the problem of how to use an iPad and still have use of your hands and feet. (Feet, because I’m sure some of my readers more closely resemble chimpanzees than to the rest of you.) The hanger comes in all different sizes, one for every type of iPad. You slip it into the hanger and then, using the straps that come with it, you (hang on, this is the brilliant part) hang it on something.

That way, you get to watch whatever is on the iPad while also filing your nails, or eating or, and this is the case of the young Spawn on whom I tested my HighView, doing unspeakable things with a broken pencil and nasal excreta. While I can’t say I approved overmuch about the activities themselves, we both thought the HighView did an admirable job of making sure the iPad stayed watchable. It stayed snugly attached and out of the way. Really, it was all you could ask for in something like this.

I’d highly recommend this to dudes who do a lot of driving in the family mini-van with young spawn in the backseat, screaming for entertainment that just isn’t coming unless you pull over to the side of the road, stop, hop out of the car and suffer a complete nervous breakdown from all the screaming, with a breakdown consisting of break dancing, twitching like St. Vitus and spewing ball lightning from your ears. Well, come one. No doubt about it: That’s entertainment.

I’m going to suggest, however, that having a HighView iPad hanger on hand to hold the all-knowing source of Spawn-ish entertainment might be better for your long-term electability prospects. I do highly recommend it. I also need to point out that Sofia sent me one for my iPad Mini for free in return for a review. This isn’t that review. That review is going up on Amazon.

This — what you’re reading right now — is because of what I found out while talking to Sofia about the product.

Sofia, being a native of Guatemala, knew first hand the grinding poverty experienced by many living there. Things that we here in America take for granted — access to food that won’t kill us as well as access to water that also has no designs on our lives — isn’t available to large numbers of rural Guatemalans.

“I believe education is very important to end poverty, and, unfortunately, one of the main reasons why Guatemalan children miss school is due to drinking unclean water,” she said. “These water-borne diseases can also create a strain on a family’s finances. By providing clean water to children, we are able to help them stay healthy and in school.”

The question remained, though: How to address the issue of providing clean water to children in need? Which was when Sofia had her epiphany. She decided throw money from her solution to the First-World iPad problem at it.

HighView partnered with Ecofiltro, a Guatemalan company with designs on providing safe drinking water to more than 1 million rural Guatemalans by 2020, to give a month’s free water to a class of school children with the purchase of every HighView iPad hanger.
Ecofiltro’s business model consists of selling water filters to rural villages and then having the new owners charging a small amount to receive the safe, filtered drinking water. It’s basically the same as the city pumping water into your home, for which you’re charged, only it’s out in rural Guatemala, it isn’t pumped into your home (yet) and means the difference between life and death.

When someone buys a hanger from HighView, the company donates enough money to Ecofiltro to pay for one month’s free water at schools in the rural areas of the country.

“I’ve always admired companies that are able to be profitable and also give back to individuals or communities that are less fortunate,” Sofia said. “An example of such a company is Toms. We decided to follow their model which is One for One. In our case, it’s One HighView for One month of clean water to Guatemalan children in need.”

So, yeah, I’m a big fan of Sofia and HighView. I love the idea of socially responsible corporations making money for themselves, but also making sure to spread some of the wealth around to those less fortunate.

If you’re looking for something to keep the Backseat Spawn busy and — oh, please, FSM — quiet, give the HighView iPad hanger a try. Of course, you’ll need to have your own iPad, but that shouldn’t be a problem.

Unless you’re suffering from out-of-date-iPad blues, which is, really, sort of a definition of a First-World Problem.


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Maybe The Handwriting Isn’t On The Wall After All

Our brain must understand that each possible iteration of, say, an “a” is the same, no matter how we see it written. Being able to decipher the messiness of each “a” may be more helpful in establishing that eventual representation than seeing the same result repeatedly.

The same research also notes that there could be a difference in the brains of young learners between those who only know how to print block letters (Hello! I’m mostly one of those. Long story.) and those who learn how to write in cursive.

In dysgraphia, a condition where the ability to write is impaired, sometimes after brain injury, the deficit can take on a curious form: In some people, cursive writing remains relatively unimpaired, while in others, printing does.

In alexia, or impaired reading ability, some individuals who are unable to process print can still read cursive, and vice versa — suggesting that the two writing modes activate separate brain networks and engage more cognitive resources than would be the case with a single approach.

That might not be all that much of a big deal, if it weren’t for the fact that cursive writing is disappearing as a subject being taught to the little dudes and dudettes in school. My youngest, Hyper Lad, really only had cursive for about a single year.

He had to learn the letters, try to put them together, and then was forced to write his spelling sentences in cursive each week for the rest of the year. And, really, that was it.

Now it’s years later and, because he didn’t get cursive reinforced in school and because his dad didn’t get a chance to really learn cursive his ownself, I now have to do the reading for him when it comes to cursive notes written by his oldest relatives. Annoying, but also, apparently, only the smallest of problems relating to not knowing cursive.

It turns out, the benefits of learning both handwriting and cursive will last through childhood and into adulthood. Most adults know how to type and consider it an efficient method for taking notes, certainly above using a messy handwriting. However, the very efficiency of typing could be working against adults trying to assimilate new information.

Two psychologists, Pam A. Mueller of Princeton and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles, have reported that in both laboratory settings and real-world classrooms, students learn better when they take notes by hand than when they type on a keyboard. Contrary to earlier studies attributing the difference to the distracting effects of computers, the new research suggests that writing by hand allows the student to process a lecture’s contents and reframe it — a process of reflection and manipulation that can lead to better understanding and memory encoding.

All of which means . . . what?

I’m not going to say that you must emphasize handwriting in the young dudes and dudettes, but it’s looking like it might be a good idea.

Heck, even just having them handwrite the really important bits from their notes might offer a significant improvement in their ability to assimilate new information. Definitely something to think about as you sit down for your . . . erm. . . their homework come fall.

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High School Students Sleeping In For Health

Teenagers aren’t lazy.

They don’t sleep late because they’re slug-a-beds, who’s only enthusiasm is for sleeping as long as possible. Biologically, they can’t help themselves. And having to go to a high school where classes start far too early in the a.m. doesn’t help either.

The four worst years of my life coincided with the four years Sarcasmo spent in high school.

His school started at 7:20 in the a.m. That meant he got up at 6:15 and I got up 15 minutes later, just in case. I barely made it through those four years and I know for a fact that the early start made Sarcasmo even crankier than he normally would have been.

Researchers have found that during adolescence, as hormones surge and the brain develops, teenagers who regularly sleep eight to nine hours a night learn better and are less likely to be tardy, get in fights or sustain athletic injuries. Sleeping well can also help moderate their tendency toward impulsive or risky decision-making.

That’s all well and good, but what teenager have you met who will be getting a regular eight to nine hours of sleep? Not many. After all, it seems like they can’t even force themselves to bed before 11 or 12 at night. It turns out that the reason for that late bed time isn’t just because teenagers are, by nature, prickly and annoying.

During puberty, teenagers have a later release of the “sleep” hormone melatonin, which means they tend not to feel drowsy until around 11 p.m. That inclination can be further delayed by the stimulating blue light from electronic devices, which tricks the brain into sensing wakeful daylight, slowing the release of melatonin and the onset of sleep. A Minnesota study noted that 88 percent of the students kept a cellphone in their bedroom.

That’s only one of the reasons I’ve been advocating for years that high schools need to start their days later. Teenagers’ biology basically prevents them from going to bed early enough to get the requisite hours of sleep each night. By starting school early, the school districts force teenagers into being perpetually sleep deprived.

Sure, stating high school later in the day might make sports practices end later and cut into time for some extracurricular activities or after-school jobs, but I think it’s a sacrifice that’s worth making. After all, the job of high schoolers is to excel in high school, so they can get to college and learn what’s necessary to get a good job. That’s much easier to do if they’ve been getting enough sleep every night.

New evidence suggests that later high school starts have widespread benefits. Researchers at the University of Minnesota, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studied eight high schools in three states before and after they moved to later start times in recent years. In results released Wednesday they found that the later a school’s start time, the better off the students were on many measures, including mental health, car crash rates, attendance and, in some schools, grades and standardized test scores.

I think part of the problem with moving high school start times to later is that, for some reason, there’s this sense of being a macho manly type if you’re able to do without a lot of sleep. It’s as if folks believe that sleep is for weenies. Do we really need to start toughening up teenagers by depriving them of sleep and then demanding they perform as if they were well rested?

The University of Minnesota study tracked 9,000 high school students in five districts in Colorado, Wyoming and Minnesota before and after schools shifted start times. In those that originally started at 7:30 a.m., only a third of students said they were able to get eight or more hours of sleep. Students who got less than that reported significantly more symptoms of depression, and greater use of caffeine, alcohol and illegal drugs than better-rested peers.

“It’s biological — the mental health outcomes were identical from inner-city kids and affluent kids,” said Kyla Wahlstrom, a professor of educational research at the University of Minnesota and the lead author of the study.

If you’re a dude who, like me, thinks it’s time for schools to start actually making decisions that are good for their students, then you should head on over to Start School Later, an advocacy group for health and safety in education.

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