Dr. Michael Kindler Talks About The Value of Digital Learning Technology in Mount Stromlo High School

Dr. Michael Kindler

Mount Stromlo High School welcomes both Australian and international students to its Canberra campus, where classes incorporate 21st-century technology with comprehensive education in the timeless skills of mathematics, language, humanities, and the arts. Dr. Michael Kindler, Mount Stromlo’s principal, recognizes the importance of understanding past, present, and future in order to develop a truly effective educational program. We asked him to explain his philosophy.

UT: On the school’s website, you mention that the school received a powerful telescope from the ANU Mt. Stromlo Research Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, and you speak about the connection between the past and the future. How does that perspective inform the way classes are taught at your school?

The first and obvious answer is that our school is an early adopter of Science in the Australian Curriculum. In this regard, Astronomy lends itself ideally as this science includes physics, chemistry, mathematics, archaeology, even history. What the School has to consider is that by the time students complete year 10, they must have had broad exposure to a balanced science curriculum as prescribed. This they indeed have. Where our school is able to capitalize on the partnership with the ANU Research Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, is in several ways. One way is because the ANU gave us the Dobsonian telescope. Another way is two years ago, 6 June 2012, we ensured that every student saw the Transit of Venus, a once in a life time event. A third way this year is that through a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), entitled The 10 Greatest Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe, developed by Nobel Laureate Prof Brian Schmidt, 17 students undertook this one semester course, all delivered online. The Assessment was also completed online, and 10 students passed. The course required considerable mathematics, and was quite challenging.

Arguably the best way an astronomical perspective informs the way we teach is by having teachers who are enthusiastic about the last great frontier – space! We are fortunate to have a Science teacher who is an ardent astronomer himself, and his enthusiasm and energy infects students. That, and having several parents who are astronomers because they work for the ANU and live in the area also helps. Astronomy is a growth industry, given that everyone’s GPS is synchronised to a commercial satellite or other. We deliver our curriculum using online textbooks, YouTube clips and teacher generated materials as well as digital learning objects which are accessed through Scootle from Education Resources Australia, a data base of units of work that most Australian educational jurisdictions contribute to. Even textbooks can now be purchased at a fraction of a hard copy price. Pearson is a leading Australian publisher and not the only one in this regard. MacMillan and Oxford and Longman are not far behind.

UT: Rather than focusing solely on core subjects like reading, writing, and science, you actively promote students’ involvement in music, theatre, and visual arts. Doesn’t this mean that you have less time to teach key skills like mathematics and literacy?

This question is predicated on a couple of fallacies. The first is not recognising that students who are proficient in the arts and physical education are not also proficient in literacy and numeracy. The fact is that research shows a correlation between students who are successful in one learning domain are also successful in another. In other words, success breeds success, or success in one area does not preclude success in another. This is the principle that students can be polymaths, skilled in several learning areas. The other fallacy is to believe that one domain gets more time than another. In fact, the current timetable is one that holds parity of esteem, that is, equal time for each learning area without privileging any one over another, or short changing one for the sake of the other learning area.

UT: You’ve gotten rid of your blackboards, and provided all classrooms with interactive whiteboards instead – and the whole school is a wireless network hub. Did you experience any resistance or concern from the teachers or parents about this emphasis on digital learning technology?

The short answer is that holding this approach was a process of self-selection: if teachers did not like this approach, they were free to leave or transfer. In fact, this did not happen. Issuing every teacher with an iPad was well received, because it extended their teaching repertoire. Every teacher further has an Apple Lap top computer issued to them with which they can work in a dual operating system (by selecting Apple OS or Windows). This jurisdiction’s system-wide network further is such that using Enclave, that is a remote access Citrix digitally based secure device, they can log in from home into the school’s network. This gives them access to reports, data bases and provides enormous variety of ways of working anywhere, anytime. In practice, it is true to say that some teachers take to technology faster than others. So train the trainer is an approach we take that gets everyone mobile with this, some sooner, some later. Not going down this path jeopardises a work environment where the kids are digitally more dexterous than the teachers, and we can’t let that happen, can we?! So we are discussing nothing less than a paradigm shift by which we move an entire learning community forward, ensuring a quality education for every child.

UT: Students are generally 12 or 13 years old when they arrive at Mt. Stromlo, and in today’s world that means they’ve had around ten years of experience with computers, keyboards, and digital devices in general. But do they all know how to type properly, or do you still see a lot of thumb-texting and two-finger hunt-and-pecking?

Speaking as a practicing (less than 10 finger) typist of several decades of experience, my (what you might imply to be a) finger dexterity or mobility impediment has not prevented me from doing my job, completing my PhD or living a rewarding and fulfilling life. In fact, I regret back in the 1970s having to teach typing, because that skill has taken care of itself. There are many typing software applications and software versions available on the market for those who want to upskill themselves, and most of these are free. Some do, some type however they best see fit. We do not discriminate for or against a 10 finger typist, or a digitally less successfully adjusted typist. What we are interested in is the quality of what is written. The meaning precedes form, if you like to express this in terms of Platonic philosophy.

UT: You have implemented a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program in the school, with the goal of improving student outcomes at all grade levels. How does making sure every student has an iPad in the classroom achieve this goal?

There are several reasons.

One is that iPads are very user friendly, appearing to make certain tasks easier than traditional paper and pen. For example, we have a Learning Management System in place which is electronic storage in the cloud. This allows students to keep an online diary, assignment, unit outlines and feedback from teachers all in the one place. To our surprise, we have found that students with learning difficulties have taken to this like a duck to water! So have our Year 7 students, and parents have been most supportive and have come to the party by purchasing the device. Secondly, we have certain learning programs, such as Mathletics and Spelladrome which can be accessed anywhere, anytime and this expands the learning environment for students. Thirdly, an iPad, coupled to a wireless router, makes researching and generating work that much more convenient. Of course students already have access to laptops at school and at home, having an iPad is simply adding another learning tool to their learning satchel. It is our experience that the predominant technology trend if for individuals to prefer personalizing their digital devices (such as by customizing what Apps they do and do not want on their device). I recall a time back in the 1980s when word processors became fashionable that contain spellchecking software. Anything that makes learning easier is to be embraced. In this vein, unlike more traditional schools, we allow students to bring their smart phones to school. Provided they abide by the traffic light system (red, not in this lesson, amber, only with teacher permission, green used for educational purposes allowed – no social networking).

Why are we digital? Because the digital revolution is the sequel to the white goods revolution. It is here to stay, it is user-friendly, enables instant messaging, and generally makes students their parents and teachers more connected with the world. Prof Geoff Blainey coined the phrase the Tyranny of Distance by which he referred to Australia being far from the more settled and developed continents and therefore developmentally and culturally delayed. Well with Skype, email and instant messaging this is no longer the case! Even movies can now get sent around the globe with a touch of a keystroke or mouse. That includes blogs, news, self-generated film, etc. The 21st Century is already here, so we need to meet the learning expectations of the NEXT generation!

Cross-posted on the Ultimate Typing blog.

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Learning Spelling In A Fun Way To Promote Long-Term Memory

Can spelling improve your long-term memory? Perhaps. Spelling is a complex cognitive learning activity that brings together many brain functions. The speller has to be able to store information about a word in both short- and long-term memory; they have to know how to read and write the words; and they have to be able to learn to spell words correctly using phonological and etymological clues. Spelling is not just for children, obviously! Adults who are learning to spell new words can in fact boost their memory performance as this process exercises the brain.

Many people believe that since computers and other devices can spell or spellcheck for us then spelling should become less of a priority in schools. If an online app can trace and auto-correct your misspellings, why waste so many hours learning the difference between words such as “principle” and “principal”, or “effect” and “affect”? And do you really have to learn how to spell “lachrymose” to be successful?

Ultimate Spelling™, a software developed by self-development software company eReflect, helps people of all ages learn how to spell. The system is especially attractive to younger spellers because the software helps users to learn how to spell through a series of fun and learning-oriented games and activities. Spelling can improve long-term memory in children as well as adults, since in the process of learning how to spell a word the speller puts to work various cognitive processes, including those associated with language processing and information storing.

When a speller is learning to write down a word with its proper spelling, they are utilizing their kinesthetic and cognitive faculties to do so. Learning to spell is a demanding cognitive exercise, because the speller has to coordinate the senses of sight and sound as well as motor skills in order to learn how a word is pronounced, spelled, and written.

Making the connection between how the concept of a house is spelled “house” and pronounced “/hous/” and connecting that to the fact that spelling out the word means that the pen-holding hand has to go through the same motor sequence every time involves multiple areas of the brain. However, even this complex process is something that we start to master at a young age and at a fairly impressive rate. When we move onto more complex words, it’s even easier to understand the true role of long-term memory in developing spelling skills.

Which is the correct spelling?

“airloom” – “heirloom”

“alegance” –  “allegiance”

“crusifixion” –  “crucifiction”

“Leprecan” – “leprechaun”

You can practice these and many other words many times but unless you effectively store their orthography into your long-term memory, you will always be in doubt whether there’s a silent “h” in “rhyme” or not.

Spelling cements words into our long-term memory, and it allows us to store thousands of words in a photographic-like manner, so that when we chat or write these words down, we instantly understand how the sounds corresponds to letters and the letters to meaning.

Many parents fear that their children will find spelling difficult to learn, and that it can never be truly mastered. This is far from the truth, however. Spelling can be both quickly and easily mastered given the right tools and guidance are available to the speller.

State-of-the-art programs like Ultimate Spelling™, that are based on the latest research and spelling technology, ensure the student becomes a proficient speller that adeptly utilizes all of the various cognitive faculties involved to ensure that accurate spelling is a skill that will stay with them for the rest of their life.

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Why Ultimate Spelling Made TopTenReviews.com

Here at TopTenReviews we reviewed Ultimate Spelling and awarded it the Gold Award with an overall rating of 9.88 out of 10. TopTenReviews praised the “in-depth progress reports” and large database of available words. The overall verdict was that the software would be very helpful for children and young adults who want to improve their spelling, although it might not appeal to very young kids.

Teaches a Wide Range of Words

Ultimate Spelling’s database contains more than 160,000 words, which are organized into lists so that learners can easily decide which words to focus on. There are lists for children in grades one to 10, as well as specialized lists that help students prepare for the GRE, SAT, or TOEFL exams. Users can also build their own lists of words to suit their own purposes. TopTenReviews praised the wide range of utility that this spelling software provides. The review also noted that Ultimate Spelling teaches far, far more words than any of the other top-rated spelling software products.

Teaches More than Just Spelling

As well as teaching users to spell words correctly, Ultimate Spelling also teaches the pronunciation and meaning of words. Each word in the database is accompanied by links to web resources that explain the word’s meaning and context. The Word Explorer feature connects words to their synonyms, which allows learners to focus on particular subject areas and improve their vocabulary. Users can even click the Etymology tab to find out about the origins of words, which is an interesting feature.

Fun to Use

Ultimate Spelling was one of the most fun to use. The spelling software includes a number of fun games, including Save Stick Man, Crazy Clues, Super Scrambler, Word Search, Junior Scrabble and Word Tag. These games give learners an opportunity to test their knowledge and have fun playing with words. We were also impressed by the two key learning exercises of Ultimate Spelling, Spelling Workout and Flash Cards. Spelling Workout gives users a chance to correct their mistakes, so that they learn from them and don’t keep making the same errors over and over again.

Easy to Track Progress

TopTenReviews gave Ultimate Spelling a full 10 out of 10 rating for its progress reports. Users can view their progress, with graphs showing how many words they have mastered, as well as their spelling success rate. The spelling software also monitors how much time users have spent on each type of activity. Multiple users can create accounts and track their progress individually.

Helpful Technical Support

Ultimate Spelling offers technical support to help users who are having problems. As noted in the review, it is easy to connect to an online helpdesk, which provides a useful knowledge base and FAQs. Users whose questions are not answered on the website can ask a question via an online email form.


Spelling software is useful for kids, teenagers and adults alike. Ultimate Spelling uses a range of engaging exercises and fun games to improve spelling skills while improving vocabulary and teaching users about the meaning, origins and pronunciation of words. TopTenReviews concluded that very young children are unlikely to get the most benefit out of this program, but many older children and young adults will find it an engaging and highly educational piece of software.

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Reviewers Provide Extensive Assessment Of Spelling Software

Many ESL students consider the English language to be both hard and unpredictable. The primary reason for this is its spelling rules — or rather the lack thereof. Spelling troubles native speakers and ESL learners of English alike because it poses great challenges. One main reason for this is the fact that English words are often not pronounced the way they are spelled; there’s no conformity or any seeming agreement between orthography and pronunciation. There’s a famous poem attributed to Richard Krogh that perfectly encapsulates this arbitrariness of the English spelling, and here’s an excerpt that shows just some of the spelling/pronunciation mismatches in the language:

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough, and through?

Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.

The English language has been called challenging by many people around the world, and the less charitable also call it “absurd” in view of its spelling idiosyncrasies.

That’s why many people turn to spelling programs to improve their spelling skills. The mere fact that adults as well as children seek to hone their spelling skills is proof that learning to spell is indeed a big challenge. Ultimate Spelling is a spelling solution offered to people worldwide. Several reviewers of the program reveal whether it’s a worthwhile investment.

Top Ten Reviews’ verdict: Ultimate Spelling™ worthy of No. 1 spot

The editors at Top Ten Reviews have recently released a series of spelling software reviews. Among several other spelling programs, Ultimate Spelling™ was part of the review lineup. This program ended up at the top position thanks to its combination of cutting-edge technology and user-friendliness — a unique combination of features that guarantees spelling mastery.

Among the other software reviewed, like Spelling Made Simple, Spell Track and Spelling Blaster, Ultimate Spelling™ stood out with its 140,000 word database and its plethora of games, activities, and lessons people can learn to spell with.

The software ratings by Top Ten Reviews make immediately evident the many ways that Ultimate Spelling™ is effectively without a rival. As the editors at Top Ten Reviews conclude, “This spelling software is the best program for kids, teenagers and even adults.”

Vocabulary.co.il: “Ultimate Spelling is learning to spell made very simple.”

Another respected English language site, Vocabulary.co.il, has offered an assessment of Ultimate Spelling™’s efficiency and suitability in teaching spelling to young and older learners.

Pointing out the necessity for perfect spelling skills in today’s world, the Vocabulary.co.il editors explain that among many spelling software products they tried, only Ultimate Spelling™ is suitable for learners of all ages and spelling levels.

The reviewers at Vocabulary.co.il explain that Ultimate Spelling™ perfectly combines learning with fun. This ensures the user stays motivated and inspired to keep practicing with Ultimate Spelling™ until they truly master spelling skills.

The program features an impressive word database of more than 140,000 words, and many activities and courses to ensure that no matter what level a user is on, or which learning needs they have to reach their goals, they can find compelling practice material to boost their spelling skills with.

Both reviews by Vocabulary.co.il and TopTenReviews illustrate that Ultimate Spelling™ is a well-designed software that presents cutting-edge features aimed at accelerating the learning process and giving users the essential linguistic arsenal to become competent users of the English language.

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What Ruins Your Writing?

Have you ever stopped to think about your writing skills? If you have, your first thought was probably the words of your favorite (or least favorite) English teacher who was always scolding you about something. Was it word choice? Your lack of orthography skills?

For many people vocabulary and spelling are the two issues that tend to ruin otherwise well-crafted content. If you’re one of these people, you’ll definitely identify with the problems discussed in this article. For example, you may be frustrated by misspellings that seem to appear in your writing no matter how careful you are and how thoroughly you proofread afterward. It’s hard to understand how you can be a good writer and still mix up words that are spelled with only one letter difference, words such as “complement” and “compliment.” If you’re truly frustrated it’s because the mistakes just seem to go on and on.

This frustration is even worse, now that writers are so much in the public eye, and where every piece of digital information we put out there gets scrutinized – often harshly – by others. It’s important that what we put out there for the entire world to see is of the utmost quality. It’s sometimes impossible to find misspellings and misused vocabulary if you don’t have an eye for it. Thankfully, spellcheckers and online grammar services help many people avoid such awkward and embarrassing mistakes.

Or do they? Actually, these computer tools do not provide a long-term sustainable solution. You cannot rely on others to proofread your work. It’s not good to depend on outside editors, whether real people or word processing functions. In fact, it can cost you a lot of money and time in the end.

The trick is to improve your spelling and vocabulary skills once and for all. To enhance your editing skills you should try taking a language class at your community center or local college.

You can also invest in a more discreet, DIY solution: a language improvement program to build your vocabulary and enhance your spelling skills at the same time.

A good vocabulary building software program will help you enrich your vocabulary with new words and concepts for better communication. It will also ensure you learn the correct spelling of these new words, and completely master the orthography of the words whose definition you already know.

So if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to improve your editing skills so that your online and offline writing doesn’t suffer (and make English teachers furious) then invest in a vocabulary builder like Ultimate Vocabulary to expand your working lexicon and improve your orthography skills.

When good vocabulary and spelling skills are in place, you will be able to quickly and effectively proofread your own writing and get rid of embarrassing language usage errors before they’re published for all the world to see.

Don’t forget that polished, error-free online content promotes you as an authority in your niche and makes people value you, and what you contribute, online and through your business.

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Have You Heard Of These Words?

Language is magic. Being a living entity, language is the playground for wit, creativity, debate, and passionate banter. It never ceases to evolve, and the words that people create are a constant surprise. Spelling bees serve to demonstrate language mastery, but how often do you come across spelling bees on newly-created tech, urban slang and web buzzwords?

Urban Dictionary is an open web-based dictionary where anyone can input a word and its definition. The words are, for the most part, slang words – the category of words that tend to evolve the most quickly. This online dictionary has more than 7 million definitions and word descriptions that are predominantly witty, pop-culture terms and concepts. One of these words, “brofessional,” refers to a young man dedicated to “bro-only” activities, like partying, gaming, and flirting. Another newly-coined word is “cleptopenia,” the unconscious and unintended stealing of pens at schools, public services and corporate settings.

The 2014 spelling bee champions from this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee, Sriram Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe, were called upon by Mashable.com to spell some of the made-up words found in Urban Dictionary.

The two young men (future brofessionals?) successfully spelled “cleptopenia,” and then were asked to spelling the word “Googleheimer.” They spelled this word correctly, too. In case you were wondering, “Googleheimer” means the situation when you want to Google something but by the time you have access to a computer you no longer remember what you wanted to Google.

Crowny,” a word that describes an object or person that’s highly desirable or of premium quality (that is, deserving the status of being or belonging to royalty), was another Urban Dictionary word successfully spelled by one of the two spelling champions.

Procrastineating”, “Feeling Drake” and “textpectation” were three more words that challenged Sriram and Ansun. The two proved their spelling skills mastery once again, managing to correctly spell these urban slang words. Although the definition of many of these was rather hard to guess, Sriram and Ansun proved that spelling skills help you estimate new words’ orthography with a high percentage of accuracy.

This video shows the two spelling champs using their spelling-honed deductive skills and showing off their abilities, something that should inspire anyone who has a hard time figuring out the spelling of these or other words.

Urban Dictionary words reflect the wit, creativity and ever-changing status of the English language. Technology has given a lot of new official and informal words and concepts. For instance, “PHOBAR” is an acronym for Photoshopped Beyond All Recognition, a word meant to describe images of people that are circulating in social media where the images have been heavily manipulated and airbrushed so that the person in the picture is hardly recognizable.

Can you guess the meaning of the words “snowhawk” and “professional celebrity” – and could you spell them correctly, too?

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7 Hilariously Created Spelling Mistakes Ever In Social Media Sites!

1) What’s Wrong With C-O-L-O-G-N-E?


2) This Surely Made My Day


3) Glad It Was Not Scissor’s Salad! LOL


4) Time Will Heal Everything… Eventually?


5) Hippos Don’t Go To Church


6) Looking For A Job? Spell Words Correctly


7) Spelling Should Be Practiced!

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3 Reasons Why Every Company Should Consider Using Cloud Computing Infrastructure

“The Cloud” is more than a buzzword. Companies already taking advantage of its capacities are substantially benefiting from this technology, not least through a significant reduction in costs. By using this method, they can achieve global availability of their resources and technology and are able to scale up their business at any time and at a moment’s notice.

Companies – and especially start-ups – can use cloud computing technology to create a solid infrastructure upon which to center their business growth.


By investing in cloud computing, a company immediately saves thousands of dollars that would be spent on buying costly hardware and other company-owned infrastructure.

With a substantial amount of money saved, a company can invest in other state-of-the-art technology and staff to ensure sustainable and steady success.

Seamless Performance

Businesses using the Cloud don’t need to face the usual headaches of repairs, services, and IT support. Since everything is handled remotely by the cloud company, the business doesn’t directly tackle any technical issues. The staff’s energy and focus is on the core matters of a business.

What’s more, the Cloud allows for easy and efficient sharing between colleagues. Staff can continue working at the most convenient hours, working from anywhere in the world. This techology promotes collaboration in ways not previously imagined.

In addition, cloud computing means having a much lower risk of data loss, since everything is routinely backed up.

Accessibility and Scalability

One of the most groundbreaking solutions Cloud computing offers is that of instant accessibility. Think of a limited-budget startup. Having traditional infrastructure and IT professionals on site is not only costly but also imposes an inflexible structure. Cloud computing makes outsourcing and remote work easier and efficient, while resource-sharing means that the company becomes more likely to boost growth and sales.

The Cloud is a new technology that has already had a huge impact on how businesses operate and grow. Although it is growing rapidly, in many was it is a technology that is still in its infancy. As it gets more sophisticated, it’s expected that more busineses of various sizes, budgets and orientations will adopt cloud computing. Innovation, growth and collaboration will be driven forward, and companies will be poised to take advantage of the next advancement in technology.

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Maintaining Blogger Relationships & Sharing Your Content All Over The Internet

As if real life relationships weren’t hard enough to decipher, we now need to maintain and nurture digital relationships too.

The good news is that digital relationships with your customers and potential clients are quite straightforward – there’s no reading between the lines, no giving the silent treatment.

In fact, you can maintain and advance your blogger relationships fairly easily.

Acknowledge Them

Saying “thank you” is a long-lasting way to express your gratitude to someone who follows and engages with your blog often. You can do even more than a simple thank you through the phone or email, quickly and easily:

- Thank them through a Tweet or Facebook post with a link to what you regard to be their top post.

- Ask them to guest blog. This is an opportunity to directly expose them to your audience. The more similar your niches the easier it will be to find a topic you’re both comfortable with.

- Interview them and then turn that into a Blogger Insight. Don’t go for formal; it should be a mix and match of personal and business-oriented questions to give your readers a complete idea of who they really are.

Helping those bloggers that help you is the first step towards building sustainable, long-term online relationships.

Show Digital Love

As with every human interaction, relationships between bloggers and businesses is based on one rule: they should both work towards a mutually beneficial interaction.

The practice you’re looking for here is reciprocation.

Check your fellow blogger’s site, blog, and social media accounts. Engage with them there, and then let your own network know what your opinion of them is. By helping them grow their community they will do the same for you. The good thing about reciprocation is that it’s ongoing.

Apart from sharing others’ content you can also directly engage with them through commenting, liking, and reposting their posts and tweets online.

Think Quality Over Quantity

To maintain a beneficial relationship with a fellow blogger it’s important that you both share one opinion. You both need to believe that blog post quality supersedes blog posting frequency.

Publishing blog posts every other day may be too much, and it definitely will be too much if the things you say are simply derivative posts without true value to your readers. Instead, opt for weekly or biweekly blog posts that are high quality and offer great value to readers.

Grammar, Spelling and Syntax

It’s our duty to also remind you that your grammar should be flawless.

It’s only human to make a couple of grammatical mistakes or have a misspelling slip away. But as a professional blogger, you need to be superhuman in this area. Double-check your work before you publish it to ensure your followers and readers are not put off by your seeming lack of language competence.

Your readers might not care about typos, but your fellow bloggers will see them as a reason to not engage in a professional online relationship with you. So go the extra mile to diligently proofread your work.

Working on your digital relationships is a priority you should never overlook.

Online relationships are an important aspect of digital marketing for beginners and expert bloggers alike.

Dedicate time and effort to developing and maintaining these relationships, and make use of the right tools and resources to create mutually beneficial relationships with others.

It will ultimately pay off in many ways, because you will increase your online community and improve how they engage with you. What’s more, you will be able to expand your reach to new markets and demographics that your new connections make possible.

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5 Ways To Save & Buy Items Needed For Your Child’s New School Year

School supplies for the new school year can cause your budget to go through the roof.

However, if you plan ahead, you can buy all your children’s school supplies without having to say no to what they want. With so many affordable options, there’s really no excuse for spending hundreds of dollars on back-to-school supplies.

Make A List

Devote 30 minutes to determine and write down what your child needs.

It’s best to create two different lists. On the first list, the “MUST BUY” list, include supplies that are absolutely essential. This might include a new backpack, a calendar for making note of assignment due dates, and a sturdy folder for filing any important documents that need to reach you at the end of the school day.

Your second list, the “EXTRAS” list, should include school supplies that you can either buy at a later stage during the school year, or things that you can buy less of in terms of quantity or quality (pencils, pens, labels, etc.).

Determine Your Budget

Now that you have everything written down, it’s time to put a projected cost next to each item.

Estimate the cost of each school supply in order to get a rough budget for the total. Use a calculator to make sure that you’ve got an accurate sum, and try to refer to both print and online school supply catalogues and websites to get a good idea of the range of prices.

Do Your Research

Don’t shop from a supermarket or any generic shop – unless you’re sure that’s where the lowest prices are.

You should start by going to an online shop that specializes in school supplies, or an in-store discount bin with great offers. Do your research before going shopping. It’s the most vital part of the process and one that will save you a lot of money.

Check online shops before buying anything, and talk to the parents of your children’s friends to see where they are buying their school supplies. Don’t wait to the last minute and don’t leave anything to chance; the more thorough your research, the more you will be able to save.


Now that you’ve established your budget it’s time to go shopping. You can do your shopping online or in a brick-and-mortar store, or you can shop both ways to find the most affordable offers.

First, shop for your MUST-BUY list. Then see whether you’re within budget or not. If you made the right purchase decisions, you’re more likely to have saved a couple hundred dollars, depending on how many students you’re shopping for.

Take that saved money and spend it on your EXTRAS list. Make sure that you decide who will handle school supplies shopping with the children. Don’t split the chore – have one parent do it to ensure you don’t buy things twice or spend more than your budget allows.

A Few More Tips

It’s tempting to go new school year shopping on your own; there’s no crying, no keeping children off things, no begging for the priciest school bag. But it’s important to keep your children involved in the process. It gives them a sense of ownership, and helps teach them about budgeting.

Back-to-school shopping is an experience children find interesting. If children are not particularly excited about the new school year, bringing them with you will help get them psyched for the new school year.

Saving money should of course be a priority but never skimp on things like an ergonomic backpack with padded backing and straps that are gentle on the shoulders.

Lastly, don’t forget to show that you’re excited about the new school year. It will prove to your child that school and learning are essential, positive aspects of a person’s life and that their school years are a time that should be thoroughly enjoyed.

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