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!


Can You Spot the Fake News Story?

Students were introduced to some strategies to help them to discern the difference between real and fake news. Students were shown simple headlines with an accompanying photo and asked to think about if it is real or fake.

Please review the slideshow below… can you tell the difference?

Headlines and photos courtesy of snopes.com 

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.

Do You Believe in Magic?

Below please check out two tools from Google and Chrome Add-Ons to assist with student writing and research… easily confused as magic because these tools are so easy to use and very helpful.

Create a Bibliography quickly and easily with the Chrome Add-On ‘EasyBib Bibliography Creator’ located within Google Docs:

See what words you are using most often in any piece of writing using the Chrome Add-On ‘Word Cloud’ located within Google Docs:


Empowered Learners

As adults and teachers it is sometimes easy to believe that students are very tech savvy. Although this may be true in some cases, I caution that familiarity does not equal mastery. Within the classroom, it is very beneficial to slow down and discuss the whys and hows of a tool or program to help students gain a deeper understanding about how technology can support their learning.

Currently students in grades four and five are learning how to create folders, to understand what the share/permissions indicate, why naming conventions are important, and how to make copies of documents within Google Drive. However, before we get to all of that, what does cloud storage mean?

After a bit of discussion regarding Google Drive, we watch the video below that briefly describes what cloud storage means and how it works. As technology is constantly changing and with us in many parts of our lives, it’s a good idea to slow down and ask questions.

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