Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Internet Safety

I can't wait until Thursday to join 5th graders at lunch! (also posted at TechLearning.com)

For the past 6 weeks, I've been working with 5th grade students, 120 of them, and their teachers on an Internet Safety Project which included discussions about cyberbullying and has since morphed into conversations and instruction about proper use of images harvested from the internet, creative commons and beginning today, how to determine the validity of a website during a research project.

I've been adding my links to my Moodle page, and you are welcome to stop by and use any of the links which make sense to you.

One of the comments heard, from more than one 5th grader, when beginning this Internet Safety project, oh we've already done this on Netsmartz! I reminded them that Internet Safety will be taught from K to grade 10 as part of the curriculum in our district. My two observations about this are that, students need repeated exposure to the Internet Safety conversations since developmentally they only take in what they can understand at that place in time . The second observation is that parents are relieved that someone is having the conversations with their children, as it takes the pressure off. However, the purpose is to support students and families as they navigate the new technologies. I wonder if this gives a false sense of security to parents, since their student has been through an Internet safety activity, do they think the job is done? I would like to encourage that this should be a time for parents to practice Internet safety too, it is a shared responsibility students should share with their parents, start now and then it will be easier to keep the conversations going when they finally graduate to Facebook or Myspace or a variety of other social networking sites.
As part of our Internet Safety project with 5th graders,we watched a few short videos to jump start the conversations. You will find links to these great videos at my Moodle page. Then we went to a great website where our students created Internet Safety comics at www.makebeliefscomix.com. This is great instructional tool since if adults do all the talking it becomes, just yak, yak, yak. However, when students make their own comics demonstrating Internet safety rules, they create it, they own it. Once we completed this part of the instruction, then we opened our Think.com account with the access to our school only. Think.com is a free school site support by Oracle. This way our students have been able to practice their skills about designing a webpage, presenting information and conversing with others while following our school rules. Even with practice, they might make a mistake, I call them teachable moments, this is a place to make mistakes, plus there are a whole host of peers who are not afraid to remind students of the rules of Internet Safety and Think.com .

My job as a Collaborative Content Coach for Technology allows me time to work with teachers on integrating technology into their content area. Really technology is just using an instructional tool differently, in an engaging way to accomplish the same instruction teachers have been doing for years. This collaborative piece works best for the teacher and me, when there is on demand instruction. By collaborating this way with teachers, the technology tools are not contrived but real to the instruction, real to the process and real to the moment. The students, parents and teachers have been a great group to work with during this project.

Why talk about Internet Safety with 5th graders? Because it should be part of frequent conversations at home, school, and in the news media. Just listen to a bunch of 5th graders and ask what they have to say about Internet safety. Listen to their examples, and continue to have these good conversations. Find a student and take them to lunch. And yes, I do eat school lunch when I have these conversations.

I want to recognize Allanah as an international blogger from New Zealand. I've enjoyed Allanah's blogs, her love of new technology tools and her enthusiasm. Check out her blog and leave comment. AllanahK, the New Zealand blogger, , Allanah has been fun to follow recently with her conversations in twitter and her blog. Check out her use of voice thread and her enthusiasm! I love Allanah's bio on Twitter, Embrace Ambiguity- a NZ primary school teacher taking a year's leave to be ICT facilitator in Tasman. How many of you would love to take a year and become an ICT facilitator? Leave a message!

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