10 Internet Use Tips for Teachers

Last week I attended a presentation by former police officer and cyber safety expert, Susan McLean. There was a lot to think about at this session and I wrote a post with 10 Internet Safety Tips for Students. 

I do have some concerns about the way some teachers conduct themselves online and promote internet safety in the classroom.

I think it’s important that internet safety is regularly discussed amongst staff in schools. Technology moves so quickly and trends can change dramatically in the space of months.

Teachers who are not regular users of the internet, and even some who do use the internet extensively, don’t know what they don’t know.

Issues such as cyber bullying, sexting and internet addiction are only going to become more prominent as children’s access to technology continues to increase. It’s so important that teachers are equipped to teach about these issues as a preventative, and follow-up issues as they occur.

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Here are some key messages around internet safety and online conduct that I believe all teachers should be aware of.

Some of these ideas were gathered from Susan McLean’s session.

  1. Don’t allow possible problems with internet use stop you from making the most of technology both in your professional and personal life.
  2. If your employer has guidelines for internet use, be aware of them. DEECD employees should be familiar with Using Social Media: Guide for Department Employees. 
  3. Develop school internet use policies for your staff, students and families. Make sure all members of the school community are aware of your policies and guidelines.
  4. Teach your students about internet safety regularly and authentically. I have found blogging to be an excellent way to have an ongoing dialogue about these issues. Make the most of online resources such as the Australian government website, Cybersmart, and the US site, NetSmartz.
  5. Teach your students about basic internet safety tips. Students should also be taught about plagiarism, copyright, Creative Commons, search engines and effective research techniques. These are important areas for teachers and students to know about if they want to use the internet effectively and legally.
  6. Find out what your students do online when they’re outside of your classroom. If you’re not sure about the online spaces that your students and school community are using, take time to explore and find out how the various sites work.
  7. If students or parents approach you with issues regarding cyber bullying or safe internet use, it’s important to deal with them. Encourage your students to talk to you about any concerns they might be having with their internet use.
  8. Choose sensible names for your usernames, email addresses etc. Use strong passwords and change them a number of times a year. This Common Craft video provides an excellent explanation of secure passwords.
  9. Protect your digital reputation: don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want your friends, family, colleagues and employers to see. Protect your personal social media or other internet accounts with privacy settings.
  10. Avoid adding students and parents as friends on personal social networks. I believe the exception would be if your account is purely professional. However, do not add children who are under 13 on social networks with age restrictions.

What other internet use tips for teachers would you add? I’m sure there are many more.

How does your school help equip teachers to deal with issues around internet safety?

10 Internet Safety Tips for Students

Last night I attended a presentation by former police officer and cyber safety expert, Susan McLean. She addressed many issues around internet safety, cyber bullying, sexting, problematic internet behaviour and digital reputation.

Attribution: non-commercial
www.flickr.com/photos/27340884@N07/2550793685

Internet safety is something I try to address frequently and authentically with my students. I have found education around this issue to be so important.

When students develop internet behaviours without guidance, problems are sure to occur. My hope is that teaching students some key messages from a young age will help them navigate their way safely through the internet as they grow older.

I have found blogging to be an excellent way to teach students about being responsible digital citizens and members of online communities. I have seen other tools such as Edmodo used to promote positive internet behaviours too.

Here are some key messages around internet safety that I believe all students should be aware of.

Most of these are tips I share with my students with some ideas from Susan McLean.

  1. Always ask an adult if you’re unsure of anything when you are online.
  2. Don’t sign up for sites that are 13+ if you are not old enough (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram etc).
  3. Remember YAPPY (the personal information you should not share online) – Your full name, address, phone number, passwords, your plans. 
  4. Don’t add people as online friends unless you know them in real life or have parent permission. Never arrange to meet an online friend without talking to a parent.
  5. Remember that you cannot believe everything you read on the internet and you can’t trust everything online friends tell you.
  6. Choose sensible names for usernames, email addresses etc. 
  7. Talk to your parents about what you’re doing online and let them know when you’re going on the internet.
  8. Know what cyber bullying is and tell someone if you think it’s happening to you. Cyber bullying is when someone picks on you, annoys, embarrasses, or threatens you over and over again using technology, such as the internet or a phone.
  9. Protect your digital footprint: don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want all your friends, family, teachers and future employers to see.
  10. Treat others online the way you’d like to be treated.

Find more great information about internet safety on the government website, Cybersmart.

Here is a great video with tips for students from CommonSenseMedia. I found it via Jenny Luca’s wonderful post on digital footprints.

What other internet safety tips would you add?

How do you teach internet safety in your classroom?

I plan to write about tips for teachers and parents in my next posts.

PowerPoint: Dead or Alive?

Since Microsoft PowerPoint was released in 1990, it has been a key tool in many classroom ICT programs and businesses.

There seems to be a reoccurring theme in social media that “PowerPoint is dead”. PowerPoint has been the butt of many jokes including this infographic by SlideRocket. Wikipedia outlines a history of the “death by PowerPoint” criticism, which was first coined by Angela R. Garber in 2001.

I don’t think it’s fair to say PowerPoint is dead. Certainly, poorly used PowerPoint should be dead!

My beliefs on this topic are:

  • There is nothing wrong with the tool; it’s how it’s often used.
  • PowerPoint is a great tool to support presentations and also has other uses such as digital storytelling.
  • In a presentation, focus should be on the speaker and their story/information rather than the slides.
  • Text should be limited and images should be used extensively.
  • Tell rather than write the details of your message.
  • Design should be simple, clear and consistent.
There are definitely many great alternatives to PowerPoint which I like to use myself, but it’s important to remember that these tools can also be used poorly.

I recently read a great post by Silvia Tolisana (aka Langwitches) which had a lovely focus on storytelling. I was inspired by a lot of her advice and decided I needed to teach my grade four students how to use PowerPoint well.

My students were researching  a natural disaster with a classmate/s. Their task was to:

  • Research the natural disaster.
  • Create a model or representation of their natural disaster.
  • Create a PowerPoint to inform the audience about the disaster.
  • Present the PowerPoint using speaking notes, and present their model.

A task earlier in the year where the students were using PowerPoint demonstrated to me that they had developed some habits which could be improved upon. The students were more interested in adding sounds, animations and a rainbow of colours, rather than collecting well researched information which they could present to an audience.

My team teaching partner, Kelly Jordan, and I wanted our students to:

  • Begin by dividing their topic into sub categories and work out the overview of their presentation.
  • Research by using books and credible internet sources.
  • Use resources that they understand, put the information in their own words and include a reference section in their PowerPoint.
  • Create a PowerPoint that focusses on using text that was no more than titles/key words.
  • Source, attribute and use Creative Commons images.
  • Create speaking notes to support their presentation.
  • Engage and teach the audience by presenting their model of the natural disaster.
 

The results were very pleasing. The students enjoyed giving each other feedback and it was clear that every student had come along way since their earlier attempt at presenting with PowerPoint.

Here is just one example (of course it was the presentation that went with the PowerPoint that was most impressive):

There was a focus on oral language, and students had learnt new skills in regards to planning, researching, referencing, attribution, Creative Commons images etc. Hopefully these are skills which the students will use again in the future.

The children loved having the choice of who to work with, what topic to explore and how to create their models. The models were extremely creative and varied. There was everything from a volcano piñata to a electronic earthquake, cyclone in a bottle, tsumani storybook, bushfire diorama, exploding volcano and more.

This project was definitely a learning experience for both the students and the teachers. In my eyes, PowerPoint is not dead and is something I will continue to use in my classroom along with an assortment of other tools.

Do you use PowerPoint? How do you use it?

What advice do you give students about working with PowerPoint?

Page Updated: Web 2.0 Tools to Embed on Your Blog

I have just updated my page about web 2.0 tools to embed on your blog.

Here you will find:

  • Tips for using and embedding web 2.0 tools.
  • A list of tried and tested tools from slideshows to videos and polls.
  • An embedded example of each tool so you can see what it looks like.

Please visit the page and leave a comment if you have any feedback or suggestions.

Online Maths Activities

We had a numeracy curriculum day at my school today and I was asked to present a workshop on online maths sites. The audience was diverse with teachers from all grade levels as well as CRTs (casual replacement teachers) and student teachers.

I began by giving a few tips for using online maths sites.

1. Think of the learning intention first. When you find a good online activity, it can be tempting to want to just use it in your classroom. It’s important to think of the learning intention and then the resources, not the other way round.

2. Be organised. Have a play around with the site before your lesson (you don’t need to know everything about it). Get your tabs up on the interactive whiteboard or student links ready ahead of time. Have a system to archive your online resources. I would be lost without my Diigo social bookmarking account.

3. Learn with your students. You certainly don’t need to be the expert when using online resources.

4. Think out loud. For example, when you come across a website you could say, “I don’t know how to play this game so I’m going to click on help and read the instructions first”. I have found thinking out loud to be an excellent way to teach incidental ICT skills and troubleshooting.

5. Mix up the way you use online resources. Online maths activities can be used for whole class activities, small group work (don’t underestimate the power of collaboration), and individual work (through a rotation if you don’t have the resources for 1:1). Sometimes online activities are more teacher led, such as when you’re teaching a new concept, however, it’s always a good idea to have the students as actively engaged in their learning as possible.

I shared one or two examples of maths resources that could be used for all four areas of our maths lesson structure.

1. Warm up. This is a quick activity to get the students ready for learning.

  • A + Click: This site has quick activities for all age groups to develop logical reasoning and creative thinking. No sign in required.
  • Oswego: Students love playing these games on the IWB. There are games for all areas of the maths curriculum and many are timed which allows for some friendly competition. No sign in required.

2. Introduction. This is the teaching part of the maths lesson.

  • Virtual Manipulatives: A simple alternative to using the maths tools on the IWB software which I know many teachers find frustrating. No sign in required.
  • Studyladder: I like using the IWB resources and explanation videos as another way to teach a concept. Studyladder also has many other resources for all areas of the curriculum. Free sign up required.
3. Main task. This is the activity that the students complete with enabling and extending tasks to differentiate the curriculum.
  • Sqworl: A great visual way to put together a collection of maths activities for students to use on their computers. Free sign up required.
  • Woodlands: There are many sites that compile links to online activities into subjects. Woodlands is one my students really enjoy with links to many activities to practise maths skills. No sign in required.

4. Reflection. This is the time for sharing strategies and summarising what was learnt.

  • Jenny Eather’s Maths Dictionary: This site has kid-friendly and visual definitions for maths vocabularly. There are also excellent printable charts to use around your classroom on the site. No sign in required.

I compiled all of the links to the examples I gave and many more on a Sqworl http://sqworl.com/vec8xd

Participants were given time to play and find resources that would be useful in their classroom.

What online maths resources do you enjoy?

Do you have any great sites to add that aren’t on the Sqworl?

Instructions for Using Creative Commons Images in Blog Posts

Many bloggers are not aware that you can’t just use any images off the internet in your blog posts. Not only is this ethically incorrect but you could leave yourself open to copyright infringement.

I teach my student bloggers to “do the right thing” by using their own images or Creative Commons images in their blog posts.

Wanting to make this process clear to my student bloggers, I created a document explaining copyright, copyright infringement and Creative Commons. The guide provides step-by-step instructions on how to use FlickrCC and Wikimedia Commons to upload and attribute images in blog posts. Obviously, there is more than one way to do this, however, I wanted to keep the instructions as straightforward as posssible for my students.

I have embedded this document below. Feel free to use it with your students to teach them about these important blogging habits.

Using Creative Commons Images From FlickrCC and Wikimedia Commons in Blog Posts

If you are having trouble viewing the document, you can download it here as a PDF. Using Creative Commons Images from FlickrCC and Wikimedia Commons in Blog Posts

More detailed advice on using Creative Commons images in blog posts can be found in the Teacher Challenge guide by Sue Waters.

How do you go about using Creative Commons images?

Do you have any more advice?

Free Online PD: Learn About Blogging and Global Collaboration

In June I travelled to the USA to present at the ISTE conference with my long time blogging buddy, Linda Yollis.  Read more about it here.

If you weren’t at ISTE and would like to see our presentation, Linda and I are joining together for an online professional development webinar next week.

What: Tech Talk Tuesdays

Where: Blackboard Collaborate Room

Link to the Session

Date: Tuesday 21 August (GMT+10)

Time: 4:00 – 5:00pm

Click here to find out what time this is for you.

If you can’t make the session, the recording will be found here after the event.

About our Session: Flattening Classroom Walls with Educational Blogging

In early 2009, Linda came across my class blog. One comment has lead to years of learning and collaboration through blogging and global projects.

In our presentation, we will share our story and also offer you

  • insights into the benefits of educational blogging and global collaboration
  • a summary of how our students have worked together on blogging and global projects
  • an overview of how we use a variety of technologies in our collaboration
  • ideas on integrating blogging and projects into the curriculum
  • tips for getting started on your own journey with global collaboration

Please spread the word and join us if you can!

Five Steps to Starting a Class Blog

I have revised the posts I have written in the past to create a nine page, five step guide to beginning a class blog. Feel free to view, print or download the document to help you get started on your blogging journey.

Five Steps to Starting a Class Blog

If you’re having trouble with the Scribd document, you can access the PDF here Five Steps to Starting a Class Blog

Good luck!

Tips and Topics for Student Bloggers

Recently, I wrote two posts about quality student blogs. You can find them here and here. I have also written a guide to setting up student blogs here.

A new group of students in my class are almost ready to earn their own blogs. I wanted to compile the tips I offer my students in one document for my new bloggers.

Below is a poster with tips for student bloggers. Feel free to download it if it will be helpful in your own classroom (Tip – click on the Scribd button to download or print).

I have also made a document with 20 ideas for blog post topics. I’ve found after a few posts, many students get “bloggers block” and need new inspiration. Hopefully this document will help my students and yours.

Do you have any tips to add to the poster?

What other ideas for student blog post topics could you offer?

Making Educational Blogging Work for You

Originally published as a guest post on Free Technology for Teachers. 

I was introduced to educational blogging in 2008. A twenty minute tutorial by a Department of Education staff member was enough to ignite my interest and, four years on, blogging is something that really works in my classroom.

When I look back at how I first approached blogging, there are few similarities to how my blogging program operates today.

Initially, I saw blogging as a bit of fun. I thought it would be a good way to communicate with parents and archive classroom information. I didn’t realise that there are countless other benefits that blogging can bring when it is working effectively in a classroom.  

I used to think blogging was an add-on. I didn’t realise that it can be seamlessly integrated into the classroom literacy program. I used to feel guilty about taking time away from my reading and writing curriculum.

It was a light bulb moment for me when I realised that blogging is literacy; and an authentic and important style of literacy too. Now a day without blogging as part of my literacy block would be hard to imagine.

I used to think it was about the posts. Back in 2008, I had students writing posts from day one. There was no education or standard. Few comments were written and those we did receive were often limited to “I like your blog!!!” or “Our class is cool!!!”. The students’ writing just wasn’t developing. Working with teachers such as Linda Yollis made me realise the comments are the place to start. This is where everyone can get involved, collaborate, learn and practise their skills.

From the beginning of each school year, I now put the emphasis on writing quality comments. This requires explicit teaching, modelling, practice and feedback. I write the posts until the students develop the skills they need to write an effective post. From there the students can earn their own blog. It is a sequential process which has led to incredible gains in the students’ literacy skills, confidence and 21st century proficiencies.

I used to think participation would just….happen. Unlike traditional websites, the dynamic nature of blogs means people can be having conversations, interacting and learning from each other every day. My blog used to be a fairly dead space. It received a handful of daily visits and maybe one comment per post at best.

Over time I realised that participation cannot be left to chance. If you want parents to get involved you need to educate and encourage them. Parent handouts, videos, e-newsletters, Family Blogging Afternoons, posts for parents and Family Blogging Month competitions have all led to greater family involvement in our blog. Most teachers are well aware of the link between parent participation in schooling and improved student outcomes. Blogs provide a bridge between home and school, however, many families need to be shown the way … just like the students.

I used to think our class blog was just for our class. Little did I realise that an important aspect of blogging is getting involved in the online community. When I first began, I didn’t know any other blogging classes. Now we connect with blogging classes from all corners of the globe on a daily basis.

Global collaboration has led my students to learn alongside their peers and achieve amazing outcomes such as raising $20,000 for a Ugandan school.

Our classroom program is much richer because of our blogging buddies. Blogging partnerships have allowed my students to learn about geography, cultures, time zones, seasons, language, internet safety and more in an authentic way.

This is the fifth year that my class has been involved in blogging. I am constantly learning and tweaking ideas. Implementing a blogging program has certainly been a rewarding journey for both my students and myself.

Through integrating blogging into the curriculum, setting high standards, educating families, and being active in the blogging community, my students now reap the rewards that blogging offers. Yours can too! Not sure where to start? I have written a five step guide to getting started with blogging and many other posts on all aspects of educational blogging. 

What did you used to think about blogging?