Digital Citizenship – Private and Personal Information/You’ve Won a Prize

This week, 3rd graders will be presented with Common Sense Media Lesson Unit 1, Lesson 2 Private and Personal Information. In this lesson, students will learn to think critically about the user information that some websites request or require in order to register. Students will understand the difference between private and personal information, distinguishing what is safe and unsafe to share online.
As a class, we will create an account on to understand what information will be required. We will discuss the information that was shared in order to register for the site and discuss with a partner by using turn and talk whether the information that was shared was safe to share. Students will understand that personal information is generally safe to share, but private information is not. Students will then watch this video to learn the 10 things that are considered private information and should not be shared online without their parent or teacher’s permission.

Students will then log in to their Edmodo account to take a 15 item quiz by categorizing the 15 items as private or personal information.

Parents can download the Family tip sheet for Personal and Private Information by clicking on the link.

5th graders will be presented with Common Sense Media Lesson Unit 2, Lesson 3, You’ve Won a Prize. Students will understand the definition of spam and how to handle spam when they are confronted with it.  Students will compare spam to junk mail that comes in the mailbox.  Students will understand these important tips for dealing with spam:

*Don’t open messages from people you do not know.

*If you open a message by mistake, don’t click on links or download files.

*Never reply to emails or IMs from people you don’t know.

*Don’t reply to spam, even to tell the spammer not to send any more messages.

*Flag emails as “junk” or “spam”.

*Watch out for messages that ask for your private information.

*Tell an adult you trust about any messages that makes you uncomfortable or comes from someone you do not know.

Students will then read the following story independently and answer the 3 questions.  The story and questions will be posted in Edmodo in the WOLab Class of 2024 group.

***One day Charlie gets an email from an address he doesn’t know. In the Subject box it says “You’ve won a prize!” The message reads, “Congratulations! You’ve won a big prize! To claim your prize, click here.” There is no name at the end of the message.Charlie clicks on the link and sees a webpage advertising a face cream. He tries to close the page, but other advertising pages pop up for tooth-whitening and foot-odor products. Every time Charlie closes a page, another ad pops up. He can’t seem to get off the site.

  1. What do you think Charlie thought when he got this email?
  2. Why do you think Charlie opened the email?
  3. Was it a good idea to click on the Web link? Why or why not?
  4.  What should Charlie do next?***

Parents can download the Family tip sheet for You’ve Won a Prize by clicking on the link.

MakerSpace Mania


For the past two weeks Nurse Jones has been completing her mandatory vision and hearing screenings for all 3rd-5th grade students. To help accommodate her, the students have been enjoying the MakerSpace in the computer lab.  In the MakerSpace students are given the opportunity to choose how and what they will create.  I have students building simple Rube Goldberg machines with Hot Wheels and cups, making amazing creations out of playdoh, crafting a teepee village from straws and craft sticks, scripting puppet shows, learning about circuits with Little Bits, engineering balloon powered cars with Legos, discovering the art of stop motion with playdoh and Legos, fashioning jewelry from WonderBands, discovering the art of origami, and designing sculptures in Tinkercad and then watching their creations come to life on the MakerBot 3d printer.

Bullying vs Cyberbullying

This week all students in technology will participate in Common Sense Media, Unit 3, Lesson 4 What’s Cyberbullying.  Students will compare and contrast Bullying to Cyberbullying by dragging the phrases from the side to the area on the Venn diagram it belongs.  This will be a whole group activity done at the front of the room using the projector.


After visualizing the similarities and differences, students will begin to understand why cyberbullying is so much more devastating to the victim.  Because of the effects on the victim, some states have made cyberbullying a criminal offense.

Students will then log in to Edmodo on their computer to read this scenario from the Common Sense Media lesson.


and answer a question posted to each grade level group shown below.






Families can find out more by going over this Family Fact Sheet.



Whose Is It, Anyway?


This week students learned about plagiarism from Commons Sense Media’s Digital Citizen unit.  The lesson was adapted from Unit 1, Lesson 5 titled Whose Is It, Anyway? Students learned about plagiarism and its consequences through an activity where they voted with their feet.  Students were given four different scenarios where they had to vote “Okay” or “No Way” and explain why they voted the way they did.

Students were presented with the four scenarios below.  If they believed it is okay, they moved to the left side of the room; if they believed it is no way, they moved  to the right side of the room.

Scene 1:  David had basketball practice last night and didn’t have time to do his homework.  Justin offers to let him copy his, and sends it to David in an email.

Scene 2: Manny has to write a paragraph about water resources for science.  He finds a paragraph on a website that is just right.  Manny copies it in his own handwriting.

Scene 3: Samantha copies a webpage into her book report and adds her own first sentence.

Scene 4:  Ming spends a lot of time on the Web.  She finds a great drawing on a site.  She prints it for the cover of her social studies report and gives credit to the illustrator in her report.

After much discussion, students logged in to the Common Sense Media’s Digital Passport to create a music video through the activity Mix and Mash.  The activity allowed students to understand how to give credit when using someone else’s creative work.  To continue the discussion at home, parents may want to download the fact sheet “Respecting Creative Work” from Common Sense Media.

Super Digital Citizen

This week third graders are being introduced to digital citizenship and fourth and fifth graders are reviewing digital citizenship through Common Sense Media’s lesson titled “Super Digital Citizen.”  Common Sense Media is a wonderful resource for parents and teachers regarding the use of technology and how to understand and manage its impact on students. Students watched the video embedded below to begin a conversation about how to be a Super Digital Citizen.

After the discussion, students logged in to their blogs to create a post titled Super Digital Citizen. In the blog post, students gave their superhero a name and described their superhero’s super power. Students accessed the program Tuxpaint to draw a picture of their superhero. After screen capturing the image, students added it to their post.  Here is just one example:


Be sure to check out your child’s blog and ask them about their character’s superpower. You may also be interested in this fact sheet from Common Sense Media.

My SuperHero Classroom

Well, here it is, Sunday night before my second week of school.  I set myself a personal goal to blog at least weekly.  I am at the sunset of my deadline for this week and not really feeling motivated to write a post.  (To be honest, “writing” is not my thing, so I do not see the motivation aspect changing at all, but I DID make a personal goal and hate to renege on it so early in the year. I did not have students in technology last week due to the fact I was training a new teacher in the Healthy Bodies/Ready Bodies Lab, so what would I write about anyway?  Then I came across on my computer desktop a quick video I made before school started of my new classroom set-up and thought, woolah, there is my post for the week.  So…here it is. I apologize in advance for the shaky quality.

Here is a better look at my favorite part of the room:





Do You Need Caffeine?

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 7.37.47 PM

Do you need caffeine? No, I am not talking about the kind that comes from a coffee bean. The one I am referring to is the macbook app that keeps your screen from going to sleep. I was very impressed with the third grade teachers last night at our Meet the Teacher event as they were all projecting their instructions directed to parents from their computers onto their whiteboard. When they noticed before the event that their screen would go blank (from going into sleep mode), they installed the Caffeine app. Once enabled, it kept their image projected for the entire hour. I have been in workshops before where the presenter is in the uncomfortable position of having to “wake up” their screen. This is a great solution to that problem. Once installed, a coffee cup icon will appear in the menu bar. Clicking on it enables the app to keep your computer from going into sleep mode. Clicking again turns it off. The app can also be customized.

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 7.38.31 PM


Mirroring Made Easy

I was completing some online tutorials last night from Wes Fryer’s MacbookMaestro course when I came across this great idea in the Mirroring section of the course.  You can mirror your iPad or iPhone to your computer by plugging it in with the lightning cable and using the QuickTime Player!  The video below explains how:

Giving Up Control

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 10.29.36 AM

Why is this so hard for me? Every time I think of allowing students to do something that I normally control, I get a picture in my mind of utter chaos. I just finished reading The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros.  I follow the ideas of John Spencer, A J Juliani, Brian Aspinall, Todd Nesloney, and others on Twitter that constantly challenge my need to control the environment and my students.  While participating in a live webinar by Angela Watson titled 5 Summer Secrets for a Stress-free Fall, I was once again confronted with this issue.  Here are the steps she mentions in her webinar:


stress free.004Number 5 was the kicker – OUCH! When she mentioned this step, I immediately thought of allowing students to change the batteries in their macbooks themselves. Our macbooks are over 5 years old, and the batteries no longer stay charged all day.  As a matter of fact, I change at least 15 batteries a day in the computer lab.  Now, it does not take long to change a battery, but I have to admit that the loss of time for a student to have to wait for me to stop what I am doing to change their battery can add up.  But more importantly, what message do I send them when I will not allow them to do this simple task themselves?  What do I think is going to happen if I turn this task over to their control? How many other simple tasks could I turn over to my students that would not only save me time, but send the message to them that THEY MATTER, I TRUST THEM, and WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER!  If I truly am going to empower my students to go above and beyond, I will have to move from expecting compliance to trusting them. This is what I want for my students…

The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros, My Take-Aways

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 8.12.32 AM

One of the most exciting things to me about summer break is the opportunity to read the amazing books I hear spoken about through Twitter.  My first book to digest this summer was The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity by George Couros.  Listed below are the statements I do not want to forget while planning for next year.

If we only teach students the curriculum, we have failed them.

To inspire meaningful change, we have to make a connection to the heart before we make a connection to the mind.

The biggest game changers in education are, and always will be, the educators who embrace the innovator’s mindset.

If students leave school less curious than when they started, we have failed them.

As leaders in education, our job is not to control those whom we serve but to unleash their talent.

This statement from the book resonated with me because it exactly how I feel about my position as a teacher: “I don’t see my work as a job, but as part of my being.”

But this section of the book is the one I will be chewing on for a while; the part of the book where Mr. Couros talks about engagement and empowerment.  In essence, he makes a strong case for the fact that engagement is no longer enough in our classrooms…we must empower students and equip them with the skills to learn.  He quotes Bill Ferriter as saying, “Engaging students means getting kids excited about our content, interests, and curricula.  Empowering students means giving kids the knowledge and skills to pursue their passions, interest, and future.”

Two years ago, I came back from the TCEA Technology Conference with the word “EXPOSE” on the forefront of my mind.  This year the word will be EMPOWER, thanks to the information and inspiration of The Innovator’s Mindset.

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 8.24.33 AM

image from

One concrete way I can help empower my students is through the use of their digital portfolios, or blogs.  Every student at White Oak Intermediate School has their own blog through Edublogs.  They begin that process as a third grader and continue with their blog until graduation.  Every teacher also has a blog.  This is an area where I feel I have failed miserably.  As the technology teacher, I have the opportunity to really empower my students to use this tool to express, reflect, display, define, and promote themselves.  As George Couros explains in The Innovator’s Mindset, I need to be willing to model what I expect of my students. One of my goals for this next school year is to personally commit to blog at least weekly, and encourage my students to do the same.