We hear more about Internet safety as we continue to use and be exposed to different technologies, particularly when it comes to publishing our ideas, opinions, and feedback. The availability of tools and resources in our hands make it absolutely easier to share and communicate what we want to say, think, and feel. Despite the continued growth on modernization in technology, we have experienced forgetting certain protocols and guidelines when communicating openly to the public. In doing so, we have opened ourselves to Internet harm, abuse, and danger. As an educator, it is one of our primary responsibilities to address, act, and support Internet safety among our students. According to the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), "The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) is a federal law enacted by Congress to address concerns about access to offensive content over the Internet on school and library computers. (FCC Consumer Facts)" For this reason, there is a significant need to investigate and understand existing policies in our respective school districts, and develop better regulations in Internet usage to protecting students from possible harm.
My district identified the following standard to addressing the need of Internet safety among its students:
Educate students on (a) cyberbullying awareness, (b) social networking, and (c) appropriate online behavior.
The Instructional Technology (IT) department of my district has been an active partner, through the leadership of Ms. Irasema Padilla, in collaborating with campus counselors to support the need in educating students on Internet safety. Ms. Padilla's lead on this special project brought the creation of my district's Internet safety website, which served as an inspiration and guide in creating this blog entry.
The state of Texas, where my public school district resides, Internet safety is connected with the Technology Applications Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards for Kinder to Twelveth Grade, as indicated below:
The Technology Applications Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) found in 19 TAC Chapter 126 describe what students should know and be able to do using technology. These TEKS are to be used when providing instruction in Technology Applications. The goal of the Technology Applications TEKS is for students to gain technology-based knowledge and skills and to apply them to all curriculum areas at all grade levels. These TEKS are organized by grade clusters for K-2, 3-5, 6-8 with benchmarks at Grades 2, 5, and 8 and organized by courses at Grades 9-12. There are four common strands for Grades K-12: Foundations, Information Acquisition, Work in Solving Problems, and Communication.
On the national level, Internet safety is connected with the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS•T)and Performance Indicators for Teacher, as indicated below:
Effective teachers model and apply the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS•S) as they design, implement, and assess learning experiences to engage students and improve learning; enrich professional practice; and provide positive models for students, colleagues, and the community. All teachers should meet the following standards and performance indicators.
I think that Internet safety is not yet fully supported and promoted equitably statewide, nor nationwide. I am awaiting for written policies that would truly discuss and address the different aspects of Internet safety, such as the protection of children (and even adults) in social networking sites (i.e Facebook, Google+, Twitter), online chats, online information (i.e. web 2.0 technology), and the like. Bullying does not happen only face-to-face in schools anymore. This continue to exist, even more rampantly, in the cyber world where parents are not fully aware of.
Teachers are directly connected with students. In doing so, they can serve as immediate practioners and guardians of Internet safety. In teaching Internet safety, teachers can use CyberSmart that is a free curriculum and has sixty-five (65) cyber safety lesson plans and student activity sheets. Cybersmart lesson plans have been aligned with the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS•T). Another resource that teachers can use is NetSmartz, which offers free, multimedia Internet safety presentations. Other useful teacher resources for Internet safety can be found here as well.
There are some Internet safety tips that have been shared by Ms. Padilla (2011) in my district's Internet safety website. The following are additional brochures or fliers that are available for distribution in your schools:
Parents play a crucial role in being practioners and guardians of Interent safety. Ms. Padilla (2011) shared some great ideas in becoming a responsible and effective cyber safety parent. We can no longer ignore the existence of harm, abuse, and danger on the Internet. Netsmartz.org has real-life videos that demonstrate the importance of addressing and supporting Internet safety among children. Ms. Padilla (2011) collected other resources for students that I recommend you to visit, which caters to elementary students and secondary students.
In the recently concluded ISTE 2011 Conference, Chris Lehrman spoke about unlocking the potentials of students. Chris elaborated about being agents for students, which means serving as the medium for students to reach and fulfill their highest potential as lifelong learners, future citizens of the country, and leaders of our community.
Children continuously desire to do something that matters, and they truly believe that this is what they need to accomplish as part of their everyday existence. How do we support our children to achieve their goals? We can provide the necessary support by granting them opportunities to do powerful things with their great ideas! Children need to be active not only in school, but in our world as well. Obviously, they do not want to be told what to think (don't we feel the same way even as adults?). They can be brilliant and we have to let their brilliance shine.
According to Chris, students see school as a something that is done to them, a compulsory form of education, and telling them that we know what's best for them. How can we help students grow and speak truth to the people? We need to help them develop their minds, ask powerful questions, seek out answers to questions, answers that we never thought of. We can help them grow, guide them along the way. We can teach them.
The best accomplishment that any education should aim for is wanting to see children go way pass them! We have to help them see all that they can be! Schools have always known about that, but we need to help students develop their heart. See the world with empathy. True education requires more than just developing analytical minds. Let us help the children see the humanity around us. As we may know, kids see teachers as family. As such, we should help kids develop their hearts.
Kids should do stuff that matters. Speak things, do things that matter! Watch the full length video below as Chris delivered more about what he thinks as unlocking the potential of children.
As part of my continuous reflection from the recently concluded ISTE Conference 2011, I have been researching different articles, journals, videos, audios, and other web-based resources that highligted the great things that captured the best moments. One of them is a video on Alan November, who is an international leader in education technology. In this video Alan talked about ownership in learning, what legacy we need to leave with today's youth, and how we can support students to become successful in their education. With this he asks, "Who Owns the Learning?" It was easy to say that this is owned by the learner, themselves. However, after much thinking, I realized that as a teacher, I have been at fault in not allowing my students to own what they learn. Instead, I tell them what they need to learn, which have resulted to some of them not wanting to learn. I would ask myself, "Why is that?" I think that students refuse to learn because they have no ownership in what they are learning. Don't we act the same way, even as adults?
This video was taken last March 5, 2011, and he discussed among his audience the importance of teaching our students with problem solving skills, critical thinking, analytical thinking, project-based thought processing, and the like. It was quite interesting what Alan November advocates and believes in with regard to the abilities, skills, and talents that our students possess. He believes, which I agree as well, that students have the ability to make it successful in this globally competitive world. As their educators and the caring adults, we need to provide the support to ensure that students achieve high expectations and goals in their lives.
Here is a video on Alan November's message on how students can add value to the world by having ownership and being actively involved in their learning.
Educational Leader. Advocate of Equality and Equity in Education. Photographer. Graphic Designer. Web Developer. Digital Artist. Technology is my medium for creative and artistic expression.