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Oct 20 14

Digital Citizenship Week

by fsanchez

Picture 9Happy Digital Citizenship Week (Oct. 19-25)! In preparation for a week of web safety and ethics conversations, get students warmed up with some of Common Sense Media’s resources, including a Scope/Sequence to help you generate great digital citizenship lesson plans. Common Sense Media has great resources for K-12 students!

Edutopia also has some great articles and resources related to Digital Citizenship.

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Another great resource is A Platform for Good. Here are three recent blog posts from their site:

Oct 20 14

Steps to Designing Maker Spaces

by fsanchez

On this blog we have talked about revamping school libraries by making them true MEDIA centers. To do that we have talked about Maker Spaces. Here is a great post by consultant Parker Thomas who recommends that you consider these six things before dropping a couple thousand on cool gadgets and gizmos. Learn how you can fit your makerspace design into the culture and curriculum of your school here.

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Tom Friedman argues in The World is Flat that all we really need to know to be successful in life is how to come up with an idea and execute on it. Children have the first part down–they are hardwired for creativity. The challenge is what comes next. That’s what makerspaces teach kids: the confidence and the competence necessary to execute their creative vision.

Makerspaces have made headlines recently. Several weeks ago New York City hosted the World Maker Faire. The White House had its first Maker Faire this summer, and schools and libraries across the country are installing these spaces.

It is certainly tempting to start thinking about all the amazing tools you could put into your makerspace. If you know anything about Makers, you are probably thinking that you need a CNC machine, a 3-D printer, Dremels for everyone and a laser cutter since they are the gateway tool for making things.

But buying a bunch of tools without first stopping to think about how they will be integrated into the culture and curriculum of your school is a recipe for a dusty and underused workshop.

From my experience installing makerspaces in several dozen schools, I’ve developed a process that helps you think through your makerspace and how it fits into the culture and curriculum of your school. Skipping this process, or one like it, will almost certainly result in tension, missed teaching opportunities, and overspending.

1. List the hopes, dreams and ideas you and others have for the space. Be sure to include stakeholders such as parents, board members, administration and other members of the community. It’s likely that if you’ve made it this far, there have been lots of conversations about the space. If you need some help, try telling stories about what kids will do in the space and what they will learn. Write down words, sentences, or pictures.

2. Define the skills, knowledge and habits that kids will learn or develop in your space. Then describe what and how the space will help kids develop these skills. For example, if you would like a student to learn the skill of backwards mapping a project to create a plan and a timeline, then how are you actually going to teach this? Or if you want students to have a habit of employing Design Thinking to solve a complex challenge, how are you going to instill this? Similarly, if you want students to be competent on all the tools in the space, how are you going to teach and assess this competence?

3. Define the culture for the space. In other words, how will people behave in the space and how will those standards be communicated? How will you deal with safety around tools? How will you teach in the space and will it be different from other classes? How will you encourage and perhaps even celebrate failure?

4. Based on the culture and the desired skills, knowledge and abilities, determine appropriate integration points in the rest of your curriculum and the life of the school. Sometimes this is as easy as working with the most (or least) enthusiastic teachers. Math and science are fairly straightforward to integrate into a makerspace, but there are many integration points in history, social sciences and art. Where are you going to start?

5. Based on your integration points, define the arc of the year and the projects you are going to include. For example, if your kids have never held a hammer or turned a wrench, it might make sense to start with simple skill builders before you get to Arduino robots and electric cars. When you pick the projects, consider how you’re going to teach them.

6. Design your space and pick the tools based on the decisions above. When designing the space, remember to consider power requirements, guidelines for safety, restricted areas around tools and what zone needs eye and ear protection. Make sure to include workspace for teams and set aside 30% of the room for project storage. As you think about tools, remember that magic of making can start with hot glue guns, string, soda bottles, soldering irons, hammers, nails and other very inexpensive equipment. Don’t be tempted by the sexy CNC and laser cutters if you don’t need them. Just taking apart a blender offers a wealth of learning opportunities.

This process is a lot of work. But going through it dramatically increases the chance that the makerspace will be integrated into your community and used by many. Next month I’ll cover two schools and how this process shaped their experience in creating a maker space.

Oct 9 14

Google Search Cheat Sheet

by fsanchez

Picture 10Google is much more than a search engine, but it is still is one of the best places to go to search. I always think students can improve their use of Google. After all, there are so many tricks and tips to google.

So, please check out this concise diagram of ten Google modifiers that’ll help students refine searches, get numerical ranges–even convert measurements and translate foreign languages!

Here is an excerpt of the infographic:

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Oct 9 14

Game Changer?: New MOOCs for High Schoolers

by fsanchez

001354_23At Mountain Lakes we have made great strides this year with blending learning experiments in AP Economics and Latin. In addition, we have created our own online course, Pschology Honors, to complement our Online Academy where students can enroll in MOOCs on their free time and earn digital badges. That is why this new blog post, “edX Turns Attention to High School MOOCs,”  from E-School News caught my attention.

Read the article in its entirety below, but basically edX will be launching nearly 30 MOOCs specifically tailored to high school students. I know as an AP teacher, I will be very interested in seeing how I can have my students take the course along our class to supplement our curriculum. Of course, it also brings up thornier questions about scheduling as well. Will students be able to register for these classes in lieu of classes that high schools offer? Although we may not know the answer to that question now, we can still get excited about the great materials that will soon be at our finger tips (and for free no less!).

edX turns attention to high school MOOCs

High school students now have access to massive open online courses (MOOCs) through a new effort fromMOOC platform edX, which says it intends the courses to help students prepare for college-level work.

edX collaborated with institutions such as MIT and Georgetown to produce the 27 courses, which include Advanced Placement (AP) sciences, math, and history, as well as French and Spanish.

In addition to helping students better prepare for college and make them less likely to need remedial courses, edX said on its website that teachers can use the MOOCs to enhance their classroom curriculum.

Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, said that because “nearly 150,000 edX learners are high school students, [developing] courses to specifically meet the needs of this student population is a high priority for us.”

While the courses are not offered for high school credit, students may pay a registration fee ranging from $25-$100 for a completion certificate.

The certificates are “a great way for students to give themselves an incentive to complete the course and celebrate their success,” according to edX. “If students want to list the MOOC on a college application or resume, they may prefer to have a verified certificate.”

If students opt to earn a certificate, they’ll be asked to submit a photo ID, and as the course progresses, they might be asked to verify their identity via a webcam.

Like edX’s other online courses, Agarwal said, student progress will be tracked in a progress page that “features a student’s overall score on the top in a bar graph with assignments and scores listed below by week.”

Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of AASA, the School Superintendents Association, said MOOCs are not yet at the point where high schools will be offering full credit for their completion.

For that to happen, Domenech said, MOOCs will have to address a number of key issues. For instance, the courses will have to earn the endorsement of a nationally recognized accrediting agency. Also, most states still require students to be taught by a teacher who is certified in that state.

But when taken for enrichment or to supplement traditional instruction, MOOCs “do have value” for high school students, Domenech said.

Oct 6 14

Cool Web 2.0 Tools

by fsanchez

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 11.57.43 AMWhat tools were most popular amongst educators this past summer? Of the 50+ “S’Cool Tools” that EDsurge has published,  they measured popularity (via our clicks) and created this list of top 10 (and they’re all free!).  Check out the full #1-10 list here, or sample a few of the tools below.

  •  CLASSFLOW – FREE! If you’re looking to communicate with your students in a BYOD classroom, Classflow may be for you. The software enables you to create and upload lesson plans, share them with students across devices and evaluate their responses. Think of the time you’ll save uploading and downloading those pesky attachments. 
  •  SOAPBOX – FREE! Want to give confused students an opportunity to voice opinions and ask questions without feeling embarrassed? Try out Soapbox, a web-based clicker tool with several features designed to engage students and measure comprehension, including crowdsourcing Q&A and a “confusion barometer” (as well as more traditional tools like polls and quizzes).
  • CLASS TECH TIPS – FREE! Looking for more S’Cool Tools? On her blog “Class Tech Tips”, education consultant and former teacher Monica Burns offers daily posts on her experiences and recommendations for resources, ranging from Flickr to Scholastic News to tips on QR codes.
  • The California Dept. of Education just released Digital Chalkboard, a collaborative online platform where you can find 300,000+ digital resources for your classroom.
Oct 6 14

Celebrate Connected Educators Month

by fsanchez

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EDSURGE is celebrating “Connected Educators” Month this October by sharing articles, tools and resources on this fast-track journey of creating authentic learning for students and educators. Each week, they will release new resources for each part of the journey:

  1. Getting Connected: Where do you start?
  2. Taking Action: From lurking to participating
  3. Changing Practice: Applying your learning 
  4. Expanding Your Influence: Where do you go?

Here is what they posted today:

  • For teachers, the Connected Educator Starter Kit (PDF), a treasure trove of resources and activities to help you use free, everyday web tools to turn the wild, wild web into a powerful, personalized professional learning community;
  • For administrators and district officials who want to lead by example, the District Toolkit (PDF) offers ways to engage staff in connected learning.

Also, here’s our special contribution: the beta version of EdSurge Reflect & Connect

Take our five-minute diagnostic quiz and–based on your responses–we’ll give you recommendations about who to follow on Twitter, relevant Twitter chats and hashtags and EdSurge content tailored to your interests and priorities. (Yep, all free!) You only need a Twitter account to get started.

Get Connected Today 

Step 1: Getting Connected

Popular tools used by teachers to connect (available on both mobile and desktop) Price
Twitter: Get started with the basics. Use this tool to share and find quick thoughts, resources and opinions from your own curated list of Tweeters! Free
TweetDeck: This tool helps you schedule your Tweets, create lists that help your organize your friends and followers, and follow your favorite hashtagged conversations. Free
HootSuite: In addition to features offered by TweetDeck, HootSuite allows you to monitor multiple social accounts (including Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn) at once. And it offers analytics data to let you know your reach. Freemium; plans start at $9.99 per user per month
Voxer: It’s basically like a group walkie-talkie! You can create groups, record your voice and listen to what others have to say. Almost as good as an in-person conversation. Freemium; plans start at $2.99 per user per month
Yammer: Ever wanted to crate your own private Facebook? Well, that’s kind of how Yammer works. Popular among teachers, this tool lets you create private groups, share comments, send messages, documents and even post a poll. Freemium; plans start at $3 per user per month

Share, Comment, or See Other Guides on EdSurge

Oct 5 14

Neat Mobile Games

by fsanchez

This blog has always promoted augmented reality and gaming. That is why I would like to highlight this MindSHIFT blog post. Check it out!

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Jim Matthews is a teacher and researcher interested in using games to promote place-based education about everything, not just civics. Communities that show pride in their distinctive qualities and cultures tend to be more resilient and capable of problem-solving. Matthews wants to help students and their families contribute their own stories to the local history to strengthen that sense of place.

One of the strongest elements of a pervasive game is that the skills can’t be siloed into one academic discipline. “In order to solve some kinds of problems, by default they have to be multidisciplinary,” Matthews said in an edWeb webinar. Many of the games he has experimented with require students to use cross-cutting skills that will help them solve a varied set of problems.

YELLOW ARROW: This public art project started in 2004 in Manhattan and has spread across the world. Participants print out yellow arrow stickers from the website , each with a unique identifying code, and place them in public places that have important local meaning. People who know about the project can text the Yellow Arrow phone number with the unique code and instantly receive the story or piece of local lore the author marked. Other users can even add more stories to a location, creating a crowdsourced ethnography of place.

DOW DAY: In this game, players take on the role of a journalist on the Madison campus of the University of Wisconsin in 1967 during a protest against Dow Chemical and their product, napalm. Called a situational documentary, students explore different characters’ perspectives, taking on their roles. The game also offers opportunities to research contemporary issues connected to the university and contribute stories using the platform.

MENTIRA: This game was started in Albuquerque to teach Spanish. Players interact with virtual characters as well as real residents of one of the city’s Spanish-speaking neighborhoods to investigate a fictional murder. Following clues given by game characters and real people, students must play out the narrative and engage with people using their Spanish at the same time. “One of the goals of this story is to get people out into a neighborhood, and the way you are doing it is through an invented story that uses Spanish,” Matthews said.

JEWISH TIME JUMP: Using GPS technology on students’ mobile devices, archival images and tidbits of information pop up as students move around a park that sits across the street from theTriangle Shirtwaist Factory, site of the famous fire that drew attention to the dangerous conditions in sweatshops. Players interrogate virtual historical figures like Rose Schneiderman, read primary source documents and slowly piece together the history of Jewish immigration in New York, the labor movement and women’s rights. These kinds of place-based, augmented reality games have the potential to allow students to construct their own understanding of history, while tying it tightly to the physical place where it happened.

RE:ACTIVISM: This mobile game is similar to Jewish Time Jump in that it focuses on the civics history of locations, but it extends beyond New York. Teams compete to come up with visible, public actions that engage the public around different historical moments. Players are given cards associated with different sites and document their actions along the way. It requires creativity, research and knowledge to win the challenge. Players have to walk a fine line between being authentic to history and being playful — one of the many interesting aspects of participatory gaming.

SUSTAINABLE U: Players find themselves in a dystopian future where natural resources are running out and something must be done to change the course of history. Players receive quests to explore transportation, water and waste policies at a university. After researching what’s already been tried, they come up with new ways to address sustainability. “One of the challenges is to go out and find where energy is being wasted and change your own behavior,” Matthews said.

UP RIVER: Designed to make learning about the St. Louis Estuary more participatory, this virtual game leads students through the estuary to various places, some more industrial, others that look like the natural habitat that once existed. Students investigate important scientific factors like oxygen levels in the water, vital for fish stocks, and interact with virtual historical characters who can describe what the area was once like. The game includes questions and challenges that require students to interact with contemporary people, like fishermen.

“One of the things we’re experimenting with is how can you integrate stories with field work,” Matthews said. Students are collecting water samples, but learning about the local lore of the place as well. This kind of game reinforces the notion that real problems aren’t siloed by discipline. Cleaning up an estuary has real effects on local businesses of all kinds, for good and bad.

COMMUNITY PLANIT: This game allows students to get involved in city planning at the local level. Students complete missions in the real world to win virtual coins. They can spend those coins to vote for how funds will be allocated for real city projects. “One of the neat things about this is that folks are tying it into planning projects that are already taking place,” Matthews said. The city of Philadelphia is using this game as it builds its Philadelphia 2035 plan.

DIGITAL GRAFFITI GALLERY: This game focuses on the ephemeral and often beautiful culture of street art. “You are capturing real-world graffiti that has been put out around the city before it gets painted over,” Matthews said. Capturing it creates a record of its existence, and players can curate their own list of favorite artwork.

LOCAL LOTO: Focusing on the lottery and its effects on communities, the game asks students to look at the quantitative data about the lottery and then go out into the community and gather stories of people who play and why. After they’ve conducted all their research, students form their own position about whether they think the lottery is good or bad for the neighborhood as a whole.

These are just a few examples of the kinds of activities local game labs, teachers and nonprofits have developed to connect mobile gaming to real places and the communities that bring them to life. “The games challenge learning to be relevant, using classroom skills and fascinating stories from life,” Stokes said.


Sep 23 14

Library 2.0 as Goal

by fsanchez

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Last year our building principal, technology consultant and I had the pleasure to check out the wonderful things that Laura Fleming, the New Milford High School media specialist, was doing to transform the school’s library. We were so impressed with the 3D printer, the “Maker Space” areas, and the neat new video room that Fleming had set up that year. That got us thinking about how we can update our space as well. For those interested in seeing what Fleming did, read the Edutopia article below:

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In September 2013, I was recruited by then-principal Eric Sheninger to be the new library media specialist of New Milford (New Jersey) High School, and was tasked with seeking to improve student performance by developing an exciting and engaging learning environment for all. My vision was of a learner-centered space where students and teachers would have access to exciting technologies, digital and print resources, and productive spaces offering scope for collaboration and creativity. In seeking to turn what been a largely unvisited and unused library into a vibrant part of the school community, I felt challenged by the limitations of the physical space. The library had not been renovated in decades, and it offered very little in terms of what a modern-day learning “commons” should be.

My inspiration at this point was Pixar Animation Studios. I’d read that Pixar had set itself on the path of being a constant learning organization, and I remembered that part of the impetus behind their mission had been attributed to their flexible, creative, and collaborative office spaces. I combined the ideas that I garnered from Pixar’s quest with a quote from Winston Churchill that I have always liked: “We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.”

Bringing Churchill’s maxim into the digital age, I decided to try broadening the concept of a “building” by extending the physical attributes into a virtual space that we could shape to contribute to learning success in the school. So Pixar, Churchill, and the needs of the school community all helped me lay out a blueprint for transforming our library into a constant learning organization — by creating a virtual campus for New Milford High School.

A New Learning Space

Many virtual learning solutions exist in the market. Their uses are varied, and most need to be customized and personalized for different needs and contexts. I formed a partnership with Proton Media, a company that provides a solution called Protosphere. This is a 3D virtual environment that enables organizations to deliver online, instructor-led training programs and to foster immersive virtual collaboration. Given that it was intended primarily for corporate and enterprise use, we had to think very carefully about how to recast it into a 3D virtual learning environment suitable for our school. I envisioned shaping it to allow us to explore how 21st century libraries can use the virtual terrain for creating fluid, flexible learning spaces.

We designed our virtual space to include five rooms: a theater, a hall, large meeting rooms, and different learning spaces. Protosphere has enabled us to explore and experiment with different pedagogies in a virtual environment. Additional inspiration for this idea came from Sugata Mitra’s TED talks onhow students can teach themselves and building a school in the cloud. The cloud allows for both synchronous and asynchronous learning, attributes that we utilized in NMHS. And since content and materials are available at all times, this allows students to come into the environment outside of class time.


A pilot group of teachers and students explored how to communicate and collaborate in a virtual environment through interacting via avatars. The virtual space proved much more participatory than the regular physical classroom. For example, we were able to design experiences for the avatars to get up and move around as much as possible. Our learners were able to talk, view, and interact with presentation and media content, record notes, and access the web, all at the same time, from anywhere. We were able to embed learning into collaborative processes to improve performance and extend the learning culture beyond the usual constraints of the physical classroom. We also felt that we were helping to prepare students for the 21st century labor force in which many of them will have to work, communicate, and collaborate virtually — something I refer to as cloud literacy.

The Always-Open Library

CBS News thought the project interesting enough to broadcast a story called “New Milford High School Gets 3-D Virtual Classrooms” (see the video below). The piece gave the students’ perspectives on the experience of breaking down the barriers of a traditional classroom. It also showed how the role of the teacher shifts to facilitator of knowledge acquisition, a role that is critical in a virtual classroom, although the teacher still has to design and deliver the structure needed for a successful lesson. The clip also showed that the learners themselves can become facilitators in the virtual environment.

YouTube Video

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Immersive environments are a viable option for learning. Thanks to our virtual learning environment, we were able to have an always-open library where teachers, students, data, and content came together to increase the speed, richness, and effectiveness of knowledge creation and transfer. We were able to overcome collaboration barriers that so many students face in the physical world, allowing our students to work on group projects any time or place. Classrooms in the cloud present us with a universe of limitless knowledge and boundless possibilities that we all should embrace.

Sep 8 14

Impact of Technology on Cheating

by fsanchez

cheatingHere’s an interesting blog post from APP.COM:

Cheating’s nothing new. But students and educators heading back to school this month say technology is helping take skirting the rules to a new level.

Text messages have replaced note-passing. Students can look up exam answers on smartphones within seconds or take a quick glimpse at a saved file of notes. One YouTube video shows how to digitally scan the wrapper of a soda bottle, and use photo editing software to replace nutrition information with test answers.

Companies such as will overnight-mail a kit with tiny wireless earbuds to allow a test-taker to discreetly “phone a friend” during a test. Others offer to write academic essays for a fee, and students are using built-in thesaurus software in word-processing programs to try to cover plagiarized paragraphs.

There are consequences to the easy access to information: It’s eroded students’ understanding of how to use technology responsibly, say some Shore area educators. But as rule-breaking becomes more prevalent, teachers also are developing their own arsenal of tools to combat would-be cheaters, educators say.

“We are living in a copy-and-paste society,” said Cindy Terebush, director of schools for Temple Shalom in Aberdeen. “Plagiarism has become so easy…. What they’re really doing is stealing, and they don’t see it that way.”

Amanda Earle, 21, of Jackson would agree. Earle, who is now studying at Georgian Court University to become a teacher, remembers feeling cheated as she watched classmates look up answers on their smartphones when she was a student at Jackson Liberty High School.

“I would personally think: ‘Wow, this test or exam is extremely hard,’… but other students would do well because they would have all the answers in the palm of their hands,” Earle recalled.

Cheaters’ high scores would make it difficult to convince a teacher that a test was too difficult, she said. Even when teachers witnessed a student cheating with a cellphone, they were told only to put the devices away, Earle recalled.

Changing profile of ‘cheaters’

About 51 percent of students admitted to cheating on a recent test in a 2012 ethics survey performed by the Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics, a nonprofit teaching organization based in Los Angeles. About 32 percent of students admitted in the survey to using the Internet to plagiarize assignments.

Not only is easy information raising the incentives to cheat, but increasing academic pressure at home and school is contributing to the problem, Terebush said.

The profile of a “cheater” has changed from a struggling student to the modern college-bound student, according to the Education Testing Service, a company that develops, administers and scores standardized tests. The occurrence of cheating has risen from 20 percent of students in the 1940s to between 75 and 98 percent of students today, according to ETS.

Even the best and brightest students can succumb to the allure of cheating: In 2012, Harvard University investigated more than 100 undergraduate students who shared material on a take-home exam. In 2009, public school teachers and administrators, too, in Atlanta were found to have changed students’ test answers. Jury selecting began in August for the trial of 12 of those former teachers who now face charges in connection to the scandal. Like Georgia, New Jersey ties standardized test scores to its public teacher evaluations.

Increasing pressure

“We live in a society where a result on a piece of paper becomes evidence of learning,” Terebush said. Students “are afraid. I work with students who are panicking about these standardized tests…. We live in a very competitive society.”

Cheating on standardized tests is widespread, according to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing. The center found that schools in 37 states — including New Jersey — showed evidence of manipulated test scores.

The center defined cheating in a number of ways, including teachers who ignored subjects and “taught to the test,” administered practice versions to students, and who pushed low-scoring students into charter schools or out of school completely. The center found evidence that some teachers allowed students to use electronic devices to look up answers during tests and use tailored calculator programs. In some schools, teachers and administrators filled in blank answers and shared test information.

Combating cheats

Technology has made some forms of cheating easier, but has also made getting caught easier, said Alex George, director of student and administrative services at Manchester Township School District.

“It’s a technology that very effectively works both ways,” he said. “It’s a bit of a double-edged sword.”

While the internet has enabled plagiarism on a grand scale, Google has given teachers a tool to track down suspected source material, George said. Terebush said the increasing rate of cheating is a signal that more time must be spent discussing ethics with students. The importance of crediting and respecting the efforts of others must also be taught, she said.

“It’s so easy to get information now, that we think less about what we do with it,” she said. “I think we need to be cognizant of the fact that these lines have been blurred, so we can unblur them.”

Earle, the Georgian Court University student from Jackson, said teachers must also take a more vigilant role in preventing cheating, and more carefully monitor students during tests.

“They should walk around and make sure that everybody has a fair chance,” she said. “It should be equal for all students.”

Aug 25 14

K-12 Digital Citizenry

by fsanchez

KidTechClassOur last post focused on why we should teach Digital Citizenry. That is why I wanted to highlight two new posts from Richard Byrne in which he focused on K-12 resources that we can use in our classrooms.

Five Good Resources for Teaching Digital Safety and Citizenship to Elementary School Students

Following yesterday’s post on Seven Deadly Digital Sins I received a couple of requests for digital safety and citizenship resources appropriate for elementary school students. Here are some of my favorite resources for teaching digital safety and citizenship at the elementary school level.

PBS Kids offers the Webonauts Academy in which elementary school students can learn about safe online behaviors. When students have completed all of the Webonauts missions they will graduate from the Webonauts Academy. The educators tips page offers some practical suggestions for using Webonauts in the classroom or in a school library. 

In an effort to teach children about potential dangers online and how to avoid them, the Council of Europe has offers a game called Through the Wild Web Woods. Through the Wild Web Woods is designed for students ages seven through ten to learn how to spot danger on the Internet and what to do when they do spot danger on the Internet. The game is available in twenty-four languages. 

Professor Garfield is a free resource developed in part by the Virginia Department of Education. Professor Garfield teaches students how to be safe online, how to recognize and respond to cyberbullying, and how to decide if something is a fact or an opinion. These educational activities can be found in the free Professor Garfield apps; Online SafetyFact or OpinionCyberbullying. All of the free Professor Garfield iPad apps use the same format. The format is a set of comic strips that students read to learn about the issues the app is focused on. At the end of the comic strips students play some simple games to practice recognizing good online behaviors. 

AT&T’s Safety Land is a nice game through which kids learn and practice recognizing danger on the Internet. The game is set in the city of “Safety Land.” As students navigate from building to building in Safety Land they are confronted with a series of scenarios and questions to respond to. If they respond correctly to each scenario they will capture the cyber criminal and send him to the Safety Land jail. Students who send the cyber criminal to Safety Land jail receive a certificate that they can print out. 

Digital Passport is an online program from Common Sense Media. The purpose of the Digital Passport program is to provide students in grades three through five with lessons and games for learning responsible digital behavior. Digital Passport uses videos and games to teach students about cyberbullying, privacy, safety and security, responsible cell phone use, and copyright. Students earn badges for successfully completing each phase of the Digital Passport program.

Five Good Resources for Teaching Digital Citizenship to Middle School and High School Students

In response to yesterday’s post about digital citizenship lesson materials for elementary school students I received requests for middle school and high school resources. Here are five of my favorite resources for teaching digital safety and digital citizenship to middle and high school students.

Cyber Streetwise is a site developed for the purpose of sharing tips and techniques for protecting your identity and your electronic devices. The site is set-up as digital street that you walk along to learn about protecting your electronic devices, your identity, and digital footprint. Much of the content is geared toward businesses, but there is some good content for students and teachers too. Some of the content that applies to students and teachers includes crafting strong passwords, protecting mobile devices from malware, and responsible use of social media. Much of what you’ll find through Cyber Streetwise is hosted on other sites, but the Streetwise setting provides a good way to find that information in one place.

A Thin Line is a digital safety education resource produced by MTV in collaboration with other media partners. The purpose of the site is to educate teenagers and young adults about the possible repercussions of their digital activities. A Thin Line offers a series of fact sheets about topics like sexting, digital spying, and excessive text messaging and instant messaging. A Thin Line gives students advice on how to recognize those behaviors, the dangers of those behaviors, and how to protect your digital identity. Students can also take a short quiz to practice identifying risky digital behaviors. 

Own Your Space is a free ebook designed to educate tweens and teens about protecting themselves and their stuff online. This ebook isn’t a fluffy, general overview book. Each chapter goes into great detail explaining the technical threats that students’ computers face online as well as the personal threats to data that students can face online. For example, in the first chapter students learn about different types of malware and the importance of installing security patches to prevent malware infections. The fourteenth chapter explains the differences between secured and unsecured wireless networks, the potential dangers of an unsecured network, and how to lock-down a network. 

Google has a good set of lesson plans on digital citizenship and digital literacy that middle school teachers should take a look at. The lesson plans are divided into three sections; becoming a digital sleuth, managing digital footprints, and identifying online tricks and scams. These digital citizenship lessons are part of Google’s Good to Know site. Good to Know is an excellent site on which you can find good and clear explanations of web basics. The detailed lesson plans can be saved in your Google Drive account. Even if you don’t use the entire lessons as they were written, they’re still worth saving in Google Drive to refer to as you build your own digital citizenship lesson plans. 

ThinkB4U is a series of web safety videos and tutorials from Google and its partners. Using the “choose your own adventure” aspect of YouTube video editing, ThinkB4U offers interactive videos to educate viewers about things like protecting online reputations, avoiding scams, research and critical thinking, and responsible text messaging. ThinkB4U is divided into three basic sections; students, parents, and educators. Each section addresses nine different topics related to safe and responsible use of the Internet and cell phones. The sections include short videos about the topics, a short written lesson, and some interactive games on the topics of responsible use of the Internet and of cell phones. The Educators’ section of ThinkB4U offers lesson plans from Common Sense Media and the National Consumer League. There are lesson plans designed for elementary school, middle school, and high school use.