Middle School and Social Media

To support grade 5 students with their transition to middle school,  four grade 6 students came by this morning to chat with fifth graders.

We discussed the increased pressure to use social media in middle school. The sixth graders also discussed how to successfully navigate this new frontier by doing the following:

  • THINK before you share/post
  • ASK for permission before sharing or posting a photo or video of another person
  • If you don’t want your mom, dad, or principal to see it… don’t post or share

Interestingly, all of the sixth graders agreed that life was easier without social media and pointed out that you don’t have to have a phone or social media… it’s probably easier if you don’t!

Please take a moment this week and talk with your child today about social media today!


Parenting in the Age of Social Media

In an effort to better understand our children’s social media use and to provide support for purposeful parenting of children and social media, the Elementary School held a Parent Coffee Morning..

Principal Roberta Wiens, Vice Principal Kit Wilding, School Psychologist Lesley Clark, and Technology Integrator Claire Wachowiak discussed current research as parents discussed ways in which they tackle social media issues within their own homes.

Also presented were results from a current survey given to fourth and fifth grade students. The survey asked students questions regarding using technology at home, what social media apps they use, and what it means to be a good digital citizen. From this, we discussed how to best guide students to having a healthy, well-balance digital life; at home and at school. All in all, it was a good morning for responsible technology use!

Please find the presentation below:

Spider Sense Tingling?

With our current digital citizenship lesson in grades 4 and 5, we have been discussing ‘Spider-Sense’ and the Internet. There are three big ideas that we review:

  1. The Internet is forever; be thoughtful about what you post, text, share, or comment
  2. Privacy online is never guaranteed; if you don’t want the world to see it, don’t put it online
  3. Use your Spider-Sense ‘ listen to your inner voice’; if you aren’t sure, question it.

In order to help students visual this,  we ask them to think of a red balloon.  Once the student has sent a photo, texted a friend, shared an experience, etc, the red balloon it out of their hands and they can no longer control where it goes or who sees it.

We strongly encourage students to talk to their parents about social media. If something comes up that they are uncomfortable with or unsure of, talk to your folks.

The Internet is a wonderful place, full of information, creativity, ideas, and learning communities. However, students need to be thoughtful and savvy when participating in this gigantic digital world. Talk to your child today about social media today!

Don’t Open That!

Throughout the year, students in elementary school are learning about keeping safe when online. Currently, the focus is about how to avoid Spam and never clicking on a pop-up.

Elementary students’ email accounts are on a ‘Restrict Delivery’ mode. This means that the school email cannot send to or receive emails from outside of the school domain ‘gemsdaa.net’.

However, many students have mobile phones and personal email accounts and eventually, their domains will not be protected. As a result, we are talking to students about staying safe online regarding emails and pop-ups.

Based upon Common Sense Media lesson You’ve Won a Prize!, students are are learning about Spam, how to deal with Spam and also, to never click on a pop-up.  We discuss strategies that include not opening up emails if they don’t know the sender, and never, ever give out personal information.  Additionally, students are strongly encouraged to speak with their parents regarding Spam as strategies for keeping safe online.

Fake News

‘So, I guess this means I can’t drink water anymore.’
Grade 5 student after looking at a ‘fake’ webpage on the dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide (H20).

A couple of weeks ago, grade 5 teachers asked me to discuss with students how to know if a website is credible with reliable information or is it a website that should not be trusted.

We discussed questions that students should be asking when looking at websites:
We wanted to stress that just because it is online, does not mean it is true, real, or credible. In order to demonstrate this to students, we looked at a fictitious or fake website called ‘Dihydrogen Monoxide – DHMO Homepage. There are several fabricated websites created by educators to help students see how easy it can be to be fooled.

After looking at the www.dhmo.com website, the alarm bells began to ring as students read how ‘dangerous’ Dihydrogen Monoxide is to humans.  Students were asked to look at the questions (see image above) and at a certain time, we asked students to cross-reference to verify their findings.  Once we tried to verify the Dihydrogen Monoxide website, many students still had difficulty grasping the idea that the information on the original website was false and that Dihydrogen Monoxide was just water, H2O.

Things to do at home:

  • teach your child to verify sources
  • model how to question motivations
  • help your child to think critically when researching

Below are to articles that go a bit more in depth about this subject:
Most Students Don’t Know When News Is Fake, Stanford Study Finds
Students Have ‘Dismaying’ Inability To Tell Fake News From Real, Study Finds

Source of Website Questions

Personal v. Private Information

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-6-20-52-pmWould you be able to tell the difference between personal information and private information?

Based upon the Elementary School Community Technology Agreement G3-G5, students in grades 4 and 5 are taking a closer look at the guideline regarding personal information v. private information.

  • Keep my personal information private by not sharing it with anyone online or in person. I will also not share my friend’s, classmate’s, or family’s information.

Currently, we are looking at what information is private information (not safe to share online) and personal information (what is safe to share online). We want students to learn about the benefits of sharing information online, but also about the safety and security risks of sharing certain types of information. By distinguishing between the two, students are empowered to stay safe online.

And we always tells students, if they are not sure or are questioning an online information requests… when in doubt, ask your parents or a trusted adult.

Below is a Family Tip sheet from Common Sense Media.