Digital Citizenship

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Bridging the Digital Divide

Is your local school district trying to find ways to bridge the digital divide and give all students access to education technology, both at home and in the classroom? The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) has developed a free Digital Equity Action Toolkit that is full of ideas for finding cost effective solutions in new technologies. It is a great resource for those looking to address the question of equity.

Educators Worry About Emails From Parents

Thinking about sending your child’s teacher an after hours email? You might want to wait until the next school day. Some educators in Australia are asking for a break from the burden of answering emails sent by parents after hours and on weekends. The State School Teachers Union there says that some parents expect lengthy, instant responses, which is why they are seeking to include a provision that offers teachers a reprieve in their contracts.

Can Minecraft Boost Problem Solving and Empathy Skills?

Playing the video game Minecraft may help boost students' social and emotional skills, according to a recent survey from Getting Smart and Microsoft. Data shows that 86.6% of teachers who use the education version for group play in their classrooms said playing Minecraft had a positive effect on students' communication skills, including problem-solving (cited by 97.7 percent), creativity (95.5 percent), critical thinking (93.3 percent) and collaboration (91.1 percent).

Limiting the Checking of Online Grading Portals

Leaders in some school districts are placing limits on when -- and how often -- parents can check online grade portals, writes teacher and author Jessica Lahey. In a commentary in The New York Times, she shares the potential downside of parents "overchecking" grade portals, writing that in high-pressure school districts, parents will view the district’s invitation to constantly monitor grades and scores on the portal not as an option, but as an obligation. This obligation adds to the mounting anxiety students and parents feel in these districts.

Coding Books for Kids

Teaching coding to kids is a trend that is on the rise. A number of children’s books are using fictional storylines to teach the fundamentals of coding -  Girls Who Code is releasing two books, a fiction novel called "The Friendship Code," and an illustrated coding manual, and Gene Luen Yang’s best-selling graphic novel series “Secret Coders” follows a group of kids who discover that their school’s janitor has a secret underground coding school. There are also a number of organizations that have developed apps and online lessons to teach kids coding as well.  Code.org provides free online coding lessons, and has crafted coding curriculums for elementary, middle and high school students. Scratch Jr, a coding program designed for 4- to 7-year-olds, now has some five million users, and last year, Apple released a free app to teach the programming language Swift.

Red Light, Green Light

In one Arizona district, high schools have implemented a "traffic light" system to help with managing digital device use in the classrooms. Posters in individual classrooms display red, yellow or green signals indicating if students can, or cannot, use their digital devices during class. Students say it lets them know what to expect when coming into a class and gives them a break to concentrate on the tasks at hand. They also say it helps keep them from getting their phone confiscated.

Red Light, Green Light

In one Arizona district, high schools have implemented a "traffic light" system to help with managing digital device use in the classrooms. Posters in individual classrooms display red, yellow or green signals indicating if students can, or cannot, use their digital devices during class. Students say it lets them know what to expect when coming into a class and gives them a break to concentrate on the tasks at hand. They also say it helps keep them from getting their phone confiscated.

4 Reasons Your Child Might Want to Become a Hacker

Did you know that not all “hackers” are criminals? Many organizations are looking for white-hat hackers -- people who break down malicious code -- to help defend against cyberattacks, writes malware researcher Amanda Rousseau in a recent article in Teen Vogue. She offers four reasons why students, especially girls, should consider this career path, including the high demand for these jobs and the opportunity to positively affect the world and make a difference in people’s lives.

National PTA –Digital Safety Resources

With school starting you might want to check out this list of digital safety resources suggested by the National PTA. This time of year is a good time to create a contract with your family on how to responsibly use digital devices and to set down some guidelines/rules. One great tool for guiding you through that process is the Smart Talk site sponsored by the National PTA and LifeLock. The process has three steps. Together with your kids you consider various categories including safety and privacy, screen time, apps, texting, and social media, just to name a few. The site guides you through a series of questions that will help you set the ground rules for each category. You can also print your own customized agreement and post it where everyone in the family can see it. The site streamlines what can sometimes be an uncomfortable process and helps keep the conversation on the topics that need to be covered.

Managing Media – Practical Advice

As the school year starts, are you looking for advice on issues revolving around managing the media use of your family? One place to look for tips is the Child Mind Institute web site section on Media and Tech. Articles on everything from why you should watch television with your teens and tweens to when you should come between a teenager and her phone are covered. Issues that concern parents of younger children are also examined, including screen time limits for toddlers.

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