Over the past couple of weeks, I have had some interesting conversations with students about social media. These talks have ranged from 2nd grade to 5th grade, and have been very eye-opening. When surveying a second-grade class and a fourth-grade class, I saw more students admit to having a social media account in SECOND grade than in fourth. What?! That's when I knew it was time to have real conversations with kids, informing them of being good digital citizens.
Don't Place Blame
First things first, I never place blame on anyone - parent or child. I tell them that most social media accounts require users to be 13 years of age or older. We talk about how parents may sign them up for accounts to play games or keep in touch with family. Also, I tell them the more honest they are about things that happen online, the less likely they are to be in trouble with an adult. Then we talk about making good choices.
To me, it is important not to place blame on anyone or to tell them they shouldn't have the account. The most important thing, in my mind, is to inform students of being safe online and how to make good choices because they are going to use these accounts regardless of what they should be doing. We have to make sure they are smart.
I found this image online last night and decided it was perfect for my lesson with 4th grade today.
Students and I talked about what each of these meant. They were very honest and open with me about their thoughts and feelings. Students told me what I wanted to hear, that they should go to an adult if anything happens online they aren't comfortable with. But let's be honest, will that do that when the time comes? That is where parents come in and keep track of the devices, what is being posted, and talking to their children.
Not sharing personal information, coaches and employers looking at social media, making good choices concerning posting about other people - all things we discussed. Keep the discussion going at home! Use this poster as a reference. Another good one (and you may think about putting up in a common area) is shared below.
So you bought your pre-teen or teen a phone for Christmas. As you watch them navigate their new phone, using data, sending messages, surfing the web, you might be wondering how to set some boundaries. If you are an avid Pinterest user, you may have even taken to this popular website to find some ideas. That's what the kids of my co-worker did. She bought one child a phone and another an iPod. They each created a contract for their device.
,After going on Pinterest, her children and her found 4 contracts they liked and then worked to pull out the items in each they liked. Using highlighters they found the most important pieces of each and then, working together, they created their own phone contract. Click the icon to go to my Pinterest board with the 4 contracts they used.
Here is what their process looked like.
Basically they put what they were responsible for and then what they would not do with it. Kids will tie more respect to the rules if they are helping to create them. By setting the rules for them, kids are more inclined to want to skirt around them. Let them be involved, but also set your expectations. Doing rules that started with "don't" or "no" aren't as helpful because it just tells them what not to do. Use rules that tell them what you expect.
I recommend including:
In my classroom I started using rules that gave my expectations instead of those that said what I didn't want. It was a more positive approach and it actually told them what I wanted. For example, "No running in the halls" becomes "Walk in the halls". Then "Don't talk out" becomes "Raise your hand to talk".
Good luck making your contracts! Happy New Year!
Kids are home, excited about Christmas, up early...how can we channel that Christmas excitement? By tracking Santa, of course! Check out these great Christmas sites you can do with your kids!
Official NORAD Santa Tracker: Follow Santa as he makes his trek across the world! You can also watch movies, listen to Christmas songs, play a new game daily, and read stories about Christmas!
Google's Santa Tracker: I really like this one! As Google has counted down to Christmas, new activities have unlocked for the kids to do. Including, coding, searching for Santa, present drop, and more!
NORAD's Twitter page: Yep, keep up with Santa on his social media page!
North Pole is a site I have used for years! Kids can read books about Christmas, watch Santa dance in the Elf Clubhouse, find recipes, send an email to Santa (and get one back!), and email friends Christmas cards. There is a ton to do on this site!
As posted on my Facebook page:
Follow-up on the After School app...if you have an Android device, you will not see the same things as an iPhone user. They have the ability to comment, see photos, and more posts. It is just part of the interface of the app right now.
Also, the app had been taken out of the app store after first coming out in order to add security features. If a student posts something alarming the After School app employees that they may harm themselves, someone comes on that asks if they need to chat.
If they believe there is a threat to the school/community, they alert local authorities and the superintendent.
Even though this app says it is "anonymous", remember, it must verify a student is a student through Facebook. Meaning, this is not REALLY anonymous.
Watch for a report on KOMU (I will let you know when), where I talk with a reporter about this app! Remember, if it isn't this app, it will be another. Stay informed (I recommend commonsensemedia.org) and remember that a child's safety is more important than their privacy.
Advertised as a "Funny Anonymous School News for Confessions and Compliments", it is not all it has cracked up to be. Many students in our school have this app downloaded, including 5th graders.
After School is a new app available on smartphones that allows teens to share their thoughts anonymously - crushes, anxieties, and gossip. If you can imagine, these anonymous comments have turned into bullying and threats. It allows for students to share their thoughts on message boards that are associated with their high school, but it does not share their identity.
This app only allows teens to be on it. How? By verifying their account through Facebook. If parents want to be on it, they would have to lie to say they are a student. But of course, the app has a way of finding those who are posing as students and will block them. Red flag right there that this app is not great. If it blocks adults from seeing it, trouble is going to ensue.
Talking about Apps
How can we, as parents, keep them safe and help them make good choices? A few suggestions I gathered from Crosswalk.com may be helpful. I love that they said, "Your child's safety is more important than their privacy". So true.
If you aren't sure how to start talking with your child, or if you are feeling overwhelmed with it all, please get in touch with our school counselors. They have heard of the app and know how to either walk you through how to talk to your kids, or they can talk with them about being safe online, too.
After School has added a piece to their Android description to state they are monitoring posts and have 0 tolerance for cyberbullying. Even IF the monitoring works 100% of the time, it is still important to have open conversations with your child about their cybersafety and kindness online.
Last night while doing a Twitter chat, a question about "ghost apps" came up, and many of the educators in the chat were not familiar with this term. I had only just heard it recently, so we had a discussion about it. I feel it is important to share this information with families so you can talk to your children about digital safety and permanence of posting.
What are Ghost Apps?
Ghost apps have icons that appear to be a normal app, but when you enter into it, it hides photos you would not want others to see that you have on your device. For example, there is one that appears to be a calculator, but when it is opened, it hides explicit photos the user takes. Now, it isn't as easy as just clicking on it. Most of these apps, you have to hold down your finger on the app and it will prompt you for a password. Then you would see the content they are hiding.
Keeping Kids Safe
While schools do their best to educate students, it is also an open conversation that should happen at home. Discuss the internet and how what you do is more of a digital "tattoo" than the "footprint" we heard so much about before. What you do is permanent. It does not go away after awhile. Also, the understanding that some messages and images that are sent could land a student in hot water because of being underage. Sending these messages have resulted in some teenagers being tried for sending and looking at child pornography since the users were under 18.
This is a great news story on the importance of talking to your children and learning about ghost apps.
Remember that in talking to your children, try to keep a calm demeanor. Many parents find the approach of just asking them about how certain apps work, whether they have heard of ghost apps, or what their friends are doing, will open up conversations. Charging at them with accusations or hostility may cause the child to shut down and not share with you.
What to Look For
Afraid your child has fallen into bad habits? Gotten themselves into a tough place they aren't sure how to handle? Watch for signs that your child has maybe already started using their device inappropriately.
Some Apps to Watch For
Do you have a reluctant reader at home? Does your child grimace at the thought of reading each night? Many parents probably raised their hands at these questions. I also can bet that many of you would say that your children love computers, social media, and immediate feedback, right?
If you have a Twitter account, you can connect with anyone in the world! Really, anyone. At a conference I attended this past weekend, Kristin Zemke, talked about how her first graders love to connect with authors. They do this through the use of classroom blogs and Twitter. Now, the students do not have these accounts, of course, but she does. The teacher holds the account and then allows the students to tweet from it with her guidance.
An idea she shared was that of having students tweet to the author of their book. I love this! Many times, she said, the author will tweet back! As an adult I have tweeted to an author and felt so excited when they replied back, how would a child feel if this happened?!
So at home, make a goal: finish a book, read this chapter, read for 20 minutes, etc. Then tweet the author. How? Usually a Google search of the author's name + Twitter handle will turn up the account (look for a little blue checkmark on their profile to make sure it is a verified (real) account). Then tweet.
I have shared this incentive with teachers at school, offering my own Twitter account for students to tweet from when they meet their goal. When we start getting replies, I will post them on here so you can see! Send me any that you get as well, firstname.lastname@example.org. Let's get kids connected!
Author Twitter Handles (check back for updates!)
Want to know more about Google Apps for Education and how it is transforming student learning this year in Hallsville Intermediate? Come to the POW-erful Learning Night on October 6th, with doors opening at 5:45pm.
You are welcome to come to the computer lab to see Google Classroom from a student's point-of-view and why the teachers and students love it so much. Also, if you have any questions, I am on hand to answer anything I can for you.
If you are interested in anything else for your child in the way of technology, please drop by and see me! I am happy to share apps or websites of anything that may be helpful. Can't wait to see you there!
Some students may come home with sign up information for an app called Remind. What is this, you may ask. Well, it is a great way for our teachers, club sponsors, coaches, and other leaders to communicate with parents, students, participants, and team.
As you get these codes you can text the number on the paper, follow the directions, and you are set up. There is an app to download to make communicating easy, too. You can sign up to get notifications pushed through your device, texted, emailed, OR all three!
Anyone can sign up, not just teachers. Use it for any group you are a member of - book clubs, competitive sports teams, church groups, really anything. All messages are also saved on the website in order to protect users.
I hope all of you using Remind love the features it provides. If you would love to see this in your child's classroom or group, talk to their teacher! Also, learn more at Remind.com
As the new school year kicks off, you may find that your child's classroom has a social media account of some sort. What benefits does a social media account provide to students, parents, and teachers? Here are some great reasons your child's teacher should have social media...
art_in_the_middle - middle school art (This one is SO awesome! I recommend following this for their digital art gallery. See their works in progress.)
Search and "like" these pages to follow them.
Hope you enjoy what our teachers and staff have put together on their pages!
A teacher turned techie with an obsession with Google, teachers that love learning, and students that love life!