USN Lower School Technology!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ms. Loftis's End of Year Powerpoint! Happy SUMMER!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Doodle4Google Finalists and Online Vote!

Well, we didn't place in the finals (from a quick scan, it looks like Tennessee students didn't make the regional cut either!), but we had a great time doodling4google anyway. There must have been tens of thousands of entries, and I'm proud of ours in any event!

Visit the finalists announcement page and then click "Vote" to pick your favorites from the very fine work of America's K-12 "top doodlers."


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Week 2 of May We're Exploring!

We're explorin' things this week, the 3rd graders visiting Dancemat Typing to begin thinking about learning to keyboard, the 4th seeing advanced features of Photostory3 for Windows, the Kinder and 1st visiting a new Center Number 1 at the K1 Go Here! page (PBS's "Between the Lions") and Boowa and Kwala's games about going to bed alone, and the 2nd graders opening PowerPoint for the first time to create digital versions of their insect flip-books either about their insects or about themselves (in the manner of their insect flip-books). It's never boring in this room!

I'll be compiling a selection of the K-1 Drawing for Children pictures the kids did last week for two slideshows, one for each incoming grade level. Incoming K-1 kiddos will be greeted with visual notes about the best things in either grade--I think that will be a pretty nice welcome gift from their "slightly elders" next year!

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Response to a Parent re Internet Safety

I thought I'd reproduce this email discussion to share it out. I hope it helps any concerned parent make informed decisions to help keep their children safe online. I've edited out personally identifying information. The original query was:

A USN parent writes:
Hi Scott,

My daughter is in first grade, and she has become quite a computer savvy girl. Luckily, she has a knows-enough-to-be-dangerous mom to keep track of what she's doing online. However, with the introduction of "googling" in her computer vernacular and straying from the icons I set up on the desktop for her favorite sites, I am now realizing how unprepared I am with no filters in place. Do you have any thoughts on good programs that are good, user friendly and don't bog down your PC (mine is 4-years old)? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

a concerned parent

My response, later the same day, was:

Dear Concerned Parent,

I spent some time today asking around and some time online to reply to you in an informed way and here's what I've come up with.

First, my first bit of advice to parents is to make sure any internet-connected computer is in a visible, public space in the family space. All families' homes vary in their layouts and such, but I really feel this is an important strategy for safety. Our technology team approach to responsible online behavior is not to use filters but rather to monitor and to train intently about what to do if inappropriate material is accidentally accessed (close the browser and tell a grown-up). Part of this approach comes from the knowledge that we can't teach students to make responsible choices if we take inappropriate options away from them.

I am proud to say that in 9 years of working in the lab, we've only had 3 instances of intentional misuse of web browsers. Those were noted and appropriate consequences were applied. With our guidance, there are very very rare instances of that kind of thing in the Middle and High schools. When I approached our HS Tech Coordinator about your query, her response can be summed up by her comment that "I really think the days of filters are numbered, because there are computers everywhere. We should be modeling and teaching responsible and safe behavior..."

That said, I put the question of which filter is best to my professional learning network on Twitter and I'm pasting in the responses I got within 5 minutes.

montgorp @scottmerrick The best filter in MHO.. a caring parent who will spend time with their child and model safe online behaviour

montgorp @scottmerrick The other thing that I always metnion is the location of the computer. Can parents readily see what kids are accessing?

julener @scottmerrick cybersitter

bruingeek @scottmerrick I would recommend It costs about $40

montgorp @scottmerrick At home with our 5 year old , we use Macs and the Mac Browser comes with good parent controls.

montgorp's comment reminds me that we did have Cybersitter in the school for several years when I first started working in the computer lab. It worked pretty well, but we increasingly were faced with issues of its blocking appropriate sites that its filter algorithms pegged as inappropriate.

One other very good thing is that if you use Firefox for your browser (free download) you can add plugins to block popups, block ads, and you can go into your settings and block specific sites that may come to your attention as you continue to engage in monitoring your child's online experience and talking with her about it. With your child's help, you can set up a bookmark for our "Webliographer" at as a start page for her whenever she gets online. These nearly 1000 links are regularly monitored and the page is the Lower School lab online start page.

I hope this helps.

Perhaps it's time for another parent evening here at school. Those are always fruitful, but getting everyone a time to meet this time of year is very difficult!

Thanks for asking, and if there's anything else I can do, just let me know.


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