Web Safety at School

GES12On top of the powerful web filters that HSE Schools has in place to protect our students, our schools use many additional strategies to streamline web access in order to keep our students safe. Thanks to Geist Elementary School for sharing these tips!

As we begin our second year with iPads in the elementary schools, the GES staff is more dedicated than ever to keeping students safe as they use the web. One way we do this is through the use of QR codes.


QR Code to San Diego Zoo Kids  

Teachers create QR codes often to provide students with a way to go directly to one particular web page – no ‘searching’ necessary. For example, Krista Beck’s first grade students recently used QR codes to travel directly and link to two websites they’ll be visiting all year.

The students first scanned a QR code that took them directly to the GES Student Links web page; then they created a shortcut to this page for their iPad home screens. The first graders will use this shortcut to directly access approved sites throughout the year. Next, Mrs. Beck’s class used a QR code to connect to the GES Library’s Symbaloo, an icon-based collection of curated web links that students will also use in first grade. A shortcut to the Symbaloo was added to iPad home screens for future reference as well.

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The GES Symbaloo provides safe access to approved websites.

QR codes and Symbaloos are two easy safeguards to make it less likely that a student will arrive at the wrong destination, and they eliminate the need to enter long or complicated web addresses – sometimes time-consuming with our youngest learners. With less time spent on typing addresses and finding particular websites, more time is devoted to the real task at hand: learning!

QR codes can be created through sites like www.the-qrcode-generator.com or www.qrstuff.com and then printed or projected on to a screen for easy access. Symbaloos can be built by anyone. A free account is available at www.symbalooedu.com .

Digital Citizenship: Not Just for Students!

Meaningful participation in the global, digital world necessitates new literacies; in essence, it involves taking what we know about citizenship in the physical world and creating parallel expectations for virtual spaces. Components of citizenship–rights, responsibilities, etiquettes & manners, security & privacy concerns, legality issues, and more–matter a great deal in the digital world. This fresh, virtual territory, however, isn’t as defined or clear-cut as behaviors and social norms are in physical spaces.

As HSE’s secondary schools shift to a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environment next year, it’s important that all teachers are prepared to model and reinforce wise and proper digital citizenship in their students. HSE High School teachers considered digital citizenship this week, as they completed a virtual learning module designed to stimulate thinking on the meaning of these words, and how digital citizenship plays out in our modern lives as teachers and learners.

Conversation and further more professional development will take place in the next several months, as teachers anticipate BYOD. Here are just a few of the components of the learning module teachers completed this week. It’s food for thought for all of us!

Here are a few words to think about from Dr. Henry Jenkins, clipped from a longer thought-provoking film on Edutopia, followed by a short explanation of digital citizenship from Common Sense Media:

Tone, English Class, and Electronic Tattoos

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 9.56.19 PMHere’s the understatement of the day: social media is a thing. If you are 13-18 years old, it’s THE thing, when thinking about communication and connection with friends. For high schoolers–and often younger students–Instagram and Twitter are today’s personal scrapbooks, snarky commentary forums, and ‘Dear Diary’ platforms. And, for the most part, these forums are public with a capital P. Twenty-first century students desperately need guidance in using these sites–and the public connections they generate–wisely.

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 10.06.16 PMHedy McGrath, an English teacher at Fishers High School, believes strongly that teachers have an important role to play in educating students on what it means to be a wise social media user. HSE21 Shorts recently spent an afternoon in Mrs. McGrath’s eleventh grade English class. With thought-provoking clarity, McGrath deftly wove the day’s English objective (on ‘tone’) into a lesson connecting tone in literature to tone in our digital footprints–those lasting Tweets and images that make up our personal online trails.

A TED talk by Juan Enriquez entitled, Your Online Life, Permanent as a Tattoo, provided background information and added credibility to McGrath’s big idea that tone is not only recognizable in literature–it’s made clear on our social media profiles as well. In cyberspace, however, the tone we want to project may not be at all what the reader perceives. McGrath challenged her students to revisit their own recent Tweets, photos, and/or posts, looking for the overall tone that comes across in their personal writings and illustrations. Just as tattoos are difficult to erase or remove, so are the online trails we leave behind.

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 10.11.30 PMFinally, students were encouraged to take an action step. Choose one word that accurately describes the tone you want to convey in social media. For example: loyal, friendly, honest, or committed. Delete any social media posting that doesn’t convey that tone to the world and, from now on, filter any potential posting through this word. A few of the words chosen that day: caring, determined, funny, open-minded, loving, outgoing, successful, and honest. Clearly, the next generation is on the right track.

Modeling Positive Social Media Use With Twitter

In yesterday’s post, HSE21 Shorts highlighted ways elementary teachers are using Twitter to share classroom happenings with parents ‘in the moment’. Today we turn to high school, to see how teachers of our district’s teens are using this digital communication platform to their advantage as well. The biggest difference–instead of  a target audience of parents, high school teachers’ tweets are often aimed at the students themselves! With 59% of U.S. teens on Twitter (possibly more in the Fishers community), the social media mega-site is an excellent way for teachers to get their messages out.

What types of messages do teachers communicate through Twitter?

Some tweets contain study tips:
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Some have links to assignment details: 
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And many are just downright encouraging!
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In an era in which oversharing and meanness can be rampant online, high school teachers are finding ways to model respectable and worthwhile social media use.

#digitalcitizenship #rolemodels

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Positive Digital Footprints

Thanks to media specialist Kelly Pidcock at Geist Elementary School for today’s post! HSE’s media specialists take the lead role in teaching digital citizenship skills in our schools.  ges3

Whether ges1at school or home, playing in their neighborhoods or surfing the web, speaking face-to-face or talking through electronic devices, Geist Elementary students are encouraged to “do the right thing and treat people right”.

As Geist Elementary’s media specialist, I am passionate about teaching my students the importance of leaving a path of unmistakably positive digital footprints as they travel through the cyber world. As a result of these goals, third and fourth graders are learning about digital citizenship with instructional materials and videos from BrainPOP, Netsmartz Kids and Common Sense Media websites. The series of lessons centers around three topics: (1)responsibility to self, family and friends, and the larger community; (2)protection of private ges2information; and (3)cyberbullying. During the final class, partners use an app called Make Beliefs Comix to create an example of a cyber bullying situation handled in an appropriate way. The comic above is one example!

Lessons in Etiquette – Social Media Etiquette, That Is!

IMG_2674Media Specialist Sharon Deam makes the most of ‘real life’ teaching opportunities. During her digital citizenship unit this week at Fishers Junior High, Deam reminded her seventh graders that anything and everything they text or post online can affect their futures–and an NBC news report helped to prove her point!

In each HSE school building, the librarian/media specialist instructs all students on digital citizenship topics such as internet safety and security, digital footprints, and more. Mrs. Deam began her recent lesson by recounting the (true) cautionary tale of a congressional aide who was forced to resign last month after she ridiculed President Obama’s daughters on social media. The aide’s demeaning Facebook comments quickly grabbed the attention of media and spread. Mrs. Deam used this sad story as a real-life picture of the importance to ‘think before you post’. In the same way that we emphasize politeness and wisdom in our physical actions, so we must live in thIMG_2682e digital world, using the amazing access provided by social media with discretion. Sharon and the other HSE media specialists are committed to helping our students learn these vital information literacy and digital citizenship precepts.