Sunday, October 30, 2016

Parents: 3 Ways to Help Teens Improve Their Grades

As a parent, you are always looking for ways to improve the academic performance of your child. As a graduate student at Northwestern University and educational advocate, I have found two articles that highlight steps you can take to improve their performance.

In “Schools Are Slow to Learn That Sleep Deprivation Hits Teenagers Hardest (New York Times, March 29, 2016), Indiana University professor of pediatrics Aaron E. Carroll reports on a 2014 study that found an hour delay in a high school’s start time doubled the amount of students that got a full night’s sleep and led to marked academic improvements.

Photo Credit: Chattanooga Times Free Press
In “The Powerful Thing That Happens When the Sschool Day Starts in the Afternoon (Washington Post, August 5, 2016), reporter Jeff Guo tells the story of one school district in Europe that experimented with an afternoon start of the school day. The new schedule gave a surprising boost to boys’ grades. 

After reading these two articles and from my work as an educational advocate, here are three action items you and your schools can do tomorrow to help your children.
  • Push it back: Instituting later school start times can improve students’ academic performance.
  • Decrease homework: With so much on their plate, students are not getting to bed on time; schools can ease the evening workload by decreasing the amount of homework.
  • Sleep for performance: Families can play a key role in promoting sleep by smartly scheduling activities, developing a routine, and limiting use of electronics late at night.

With these changes our teens can get their much needed rest and get on the path to scholastic success.


Roger McMinn is a marketing professional, education advocate, and graduate student in Northwestern University’s Information Design and Strategy Program. You can follow him on Twitter @RogerMcMinn1.

Parents, Take Time to Read With Your Children

As an author in the child development industry, it is important to make the parent/child reading experience a fun place for children and adults to expand their imaginations. As a graduate student at Northwestern University focusing on child development in reading, I have found two articles on nurturing a child's imagination which you will find interesting.

In Regan McMahon’s article titled "How to Nurture Your Child's Love of Reading" about reading to children, gives great tips on how to lead by example. “...parents influence kids' appreciation of books by sharing their own love of literature and modeling reader behavior”; what a simple yet strong statement. Reading is less of a good habit, but more of an exploration and experience. From toddlers to young seasoned readers, sharing a book together is a moment that is more beneficial than realized. McMahon states that reading aloud to children is also a wonderful tactic, as they can relax and learn more than just about the story they are hearing; they can “hear the rhythm of the language and learn correct pronunciation.” Series of children’s books have been around for decades. This helps continue the excitement of reading. Another inspiring way to encourage reading, is to pay attention to certain subjects children are interested in or favorite authors. McMahon touches on e-books for reluctant readers, as they may have other elements of enticement, but believes they are too distracting. A page turning animation can be found through e-books, which solidifies how the experience of a tactile book is timeless and important for a long-time reader.


The pediatrician, Perri Klass, finds the benefit of tactile books so important, that she gives “developmentally appropriate children’s book at every checkup.” In "The Merits of Reading Real Books to Your Children", Klass speaks of certain benefits of electronic books to help with connections between words and images, but the elements and animations found on these devices are a “cognitive overload” and take away from the human experience with their parents or family. Less communication has been found through studies when electronics are involved compared to more communication when playing with traditional toys. Along with these findings, even more interaction and communication is shared when using picture books. A fascinating discovery in Klass’s article explains how parents benefit from story-time as well. Parents, without realizing it, gain much more from the physical touch of their child when side by side reading a book together. It is an endless exchange of care, love and learning.

From my review of these two articles along with my learnings from Northwestern, here are three action items you should consider when raising your children.  

Action Items:

  • Challenge Your Children - A child’s intellectual and emotional levels gain greater development with a tangible book in hand.

  • Explore Through Imagination - Scenes in children’s picture books support a child’s vision, and ultimately allows them to continue the story in their mind.

  • Develop Positive Thoughts - The content for children in books must develop their mind in a positive and constructive way.

Real books and e-books will continue to co-exist. The key is they should be utilized for their most beneficial purpose. The elements and experience are completely different, even though they both contain stories. The strong human inspirations that come from the simplicity of a book should not be overlooked. It is important to expose books to children at a very young age and continue to young adulthood so they may become lifelong readers.

Jennifer Bozek
Jennifer is a graduate student at Northwestern University in the Professional Studies program Information Design and Strategy. She is also a self-published children's book author and illustrator as well as an advertising graphic designer. 
Visit my blog at:
You can find me at LinkedIn and Twitter

B2B Publishers: 3 Ways to Protect Your Digital Revenue from the Bots

As a B2B publisher, you recognize the revenue opportunities offered by growth in digital and programmatic advertising. However, with these opportunities come risks. Two articles highlight the carrot and stick that come with digital advertising.

In Advertising Age, George Slefo reports that spending on digital advertising in 2015 surged to an all-time high of $59.6 billion dollars. This represents a 20% increase over the record-setting numbers of 2015. Increases were driven by mobile advertising (up 66%) and social media (up 55%). Digital video also saw a substantial increase within display-related advertising, climbing 30% over the prior year. The Interactive Advertising Bureau presented this information in a report prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Non human traffic is stealing your money.

However, in an earlier article in Advertising Age (by the same author), a 2015 study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau estimates that nearly 14% of that amount—or $8.2 billion dollars—may be fraudulent. The sources for these losses are varied—non-human traffic, malvertising-related activities, and infringed content are the major causes determined by the IAB. Further, companies spend approximately $169 million each year combating this invalid traffic. But what may be less understood is the role that online publishers and content providers play in allowing this fraud.

Protect Your Content

As a B2B publisher, my company has developed three techniques for others to use to protect their content:
  • Stay human. Publishers must measure how much of their traffic is human. This is a constant need for vigilance, and it should be part of every measurement of usage on your site.
  • Find a partner. Third-party ad verification vendors offer checks and re-checks of your data. Use them to measure the accuracy of your reporting.
  • Assess and reassess. Review your campaigns in detail, especially for block traffic at suspicious times of the day or days of the week. If the traffic pattern looks suspicious, it probably is.
Fraudulent advertising results damage a B2B publisher's reputation and revenue stream. Be proactive in uncovering and eliminating fraudulent ad traffic--before your customers do it for you.

About the Author
Conor Lynch is an editor and publisher with Harborside Press. He is also in the Graduate Program on Information Design and Strategy at Northwestern University. He can be reached at @cplynch2310 or on LinkedIn.

Graphic Designers: 3 Important Logo Design Trends You Need to Know

As a graphic designer you know that a logo is a graphical representation of a company's products and services. This makes it important for you to understand logo design trends when you are faced with a logo design project. As a graphic design consultant, and a graduate student at Northwestern University, I have had experience with logo design and I found two great articles that highlight the logo trends of 2016, thus far.  

In Bill Gardner’s article, 2016 Logo Trends Report Sees Simplicity As King, for Graphic Design USA, he mentions the comeback of KISS. Which is a creative acronym for “Keep It Simple Stupid.” The main point of Gardner's article is, logos are simple. Gardner writes that designers are “rebelling against complexity” and moving towards simple minimalistic shapes for their logo designs.

In the article, A Closer Look at 3 of Today’s Logo Design Trends by Amanda Aszman, for, Amanda shared the same sentiments as Gardner, and mentioned a few other trends. One of them being, logos are becoming geometric. More companies are adopting simple geometric logo designs with the hopes that it will represent the simplicity or uncomplicatedness of their service or product. Circles, in particular have been the most popular geometric shape so far in 2016.

Based on these two articles and my experience as a graphic design consultant, here are my three recommendations to consider when designing your next logo:

1.    Keep it simple: Avoid complex logos, stick with a simple logo. Simple logos
show that what your company has to offer is uncomplicated and simple

2.    Go geometric: When designing your logo, utilize simple geometric shapes.
They provide your logo a clean and minimalistic look that is on trend.

3.    Count on Circles: Circles in 2016 were popular and will remain popular.

Following these three trends will be helpful in designing a logo that will set any brand apart from its competitors.   

Max Do
I am an Information Design Strategy student at Northwestern University, as well as a graphics consultant for the largest healthcare brand in the U.S. I am a versatile designer with experience in print, web and digital design.

You can find me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Student Affairs Administrators: 3 Ways to Combat Food Insecurity on Your Campus

As a college or university student affairs administrator, food insecuritymeaning a lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy liferepresents one of the greatest challenges your students will face on their path to academic success and personal growth.

As a graduate student in higher education at Northwestern University, I have begun research into the student hunger crisis across the nation. I have identified two articles that you should read to build awareness of this issue and ultimately prepare a response on your own campus. 

In "The Hidden Hunger on College Campuses," Laura McKenna of The Atlantic explains how demographic shifts within higher education are linked to the growing prevalence of food insecurity. More college students are now older, lower-income, raising a family, and attending school while working another job. It is little surprise that these students are facing food shortages as they struggle to make ends meet and pay for the rising price of college. McKenna also presents the results of a path-breaking study conducted by Temple University Professor Sara Goldrick-Rab, which found that more than half of all community-college students struggle with food insecurity.

A look inside the new food pantry at George Washington University. Photo Credit: William Atkins/Courtesy of GWU

Dr. David Steele-Figueredo, President of Woodbury University, offers more sobering statistics about the college hunger epidemic in his article, "Is College Student Food Insecurity Real?" He notes that 4 in 10 University of California students lack a consistent source of high-quality, nutritious food—so even one of the most renowned university systems in the world is not immune to this problem.

Yet there are some promising interventions that can help students receive the food they need to thrive at college. Steele-Figueredo highlights a national student-run organization that began at UCLA called Swipe Out Hunger, which takes the money from students' unused meal plans and converts it into food pantry items and meal vouchers for their food-insecure peers.

After reviewing these two powerful articles and conducting additional research, I have identified three action items to consider as you develop a strategy to support hungry students at your institution:

  • Recognize Tell-tale Signs: Students who exhibit learning difficulties, or skip class to work another job, may struggle to receive adequate nutrition and need additional support from the institution (e.g., financial, medical, counseling resources).
  • Eliminate Red Tape: Work with financial aid professionals at your institution to help food-insecure students apply for assistance from the federal government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. You should also connect these students with local non-profits or government agencies that provide social services, such as affordable housing options or transportation subsidies.

Simply acknowledging that college student hunger most likely affects some of the students you encounter every day won't alleviate the problem. By taking proactive steps to form a network of support with campus partners, external organizations, and concerned students, you can ensure that your institution meets the needs of its most vulnerable population.

About the Author

I am an aspiring student affairs administrator pursuing the M.S. in Higher Education Administration & Policy degree program at Northwestern University. My professional interests are wide-ranging and include: career and academic advising; co-curricular student life and experiential learning; university-community partnerships; civic engagement initiatives; and assessment of student learning outcomes. You can connect with me on Twitter @jeffrey_scholl or through LinkedIn.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

3 Things Every School Leader Should Have on Their Radar

As a School Leader, you witness the special ecosystem created each year as a unique set of students and teacher embark on learning together.  Yet, creating this ecosystem is not easy and it feels like the ground might be shifting under our feet.  As an Independent School Board Member, I ran across two articles that speak to this changing landscape.

In Four Roads Converge, an article published in Independent School MagazineAl Adams discusses how improved access, an environment of inclusion, overall student success and a focus on public purpose contribute to “each student bring(ing) a unique set of gifts that enriches the school’s learning community” (40). There is much to be gained from a heterogeneous environment, but the real work to strengthen community is found in how your culture fosters and supports this difference.

And, it's not just students.  In Jeffery Marino's article, California Fails the Affordability Test for Teachers, he highlights the growing gap between housing costs and teacher salaries in California.  He states that only 17% of teachers can afford to live near where they teach.  He quotes Eric Heins, President of the California Teachers Association, “Costs associated with living in the Golden State make the teaching profession look less attractive to young people considering a career in education. We are facing a massive teacher shortage, and unless the state and local school districts do something to make education a more attractive and financially sustainable career choice, that shortage is going to get worse and negatively impact millions of our students for a long time to come.” Turns out who’s in the classroom is impacted by where you live.

What can we do? We need to have the following action items on our radar:
  • Demand Difference - We must look at every classroom and build an ecosystem that thrives in its difference.
  • Be Like Fresno - We must understand if we can be like Fresno, a place Jeffery Marino highlights, where one can teach and afford to live. 
  • Know Our "Uber" - When more and more students can’t afford tuition and teachers can’t afford to live where they work, education is ripe for disruption.
       We can put these on our radar or react to them later. 

      Laurie Price is the Founder of SquareRoot Project, an Independent School Trustee, and a graduate student at Northwestern University in the Information Design and Strategy Program.  You can find her on Twitter @LauriePrice20 or Linked In