6 Digital Life Conversation Starters to Use in School Meetings, Discussions & Presentations

How much should parents know about the settings on children’s digital devices?

How much should parents know about the settings on children’s digital devices?

Now that back-to-school nights are about over, schools will be scheduling parent potlucks, curriculum nights, and educational seminars throughout the academic year. These activities offer lots of opportunity for educational communities to start conversations about the challenges — for parents and kids — of growing up in the connected world.

At all of these events administrators, teachers, and parents should plan to incorporate a few introductory comments that encourage parents think about helping their digital children become stronger learners, more savvy digital citizens, better consumers of content on their digital devices, and overall, more knowledgeable citizens.

Below are a few questions that can be shared at a school events and classroom presentations, questions that encourage parents to talk about managing life with 21st Century digital kids. While there are no right answers to these questions, the conversations provide adults an opportunity to talk about what works — and what does not —  in the context of young people’s school and social lives.

Choose one or at most two inquiries to use at each activity. Continue reading

Happy Safer Internet Day 2015!

Today, February 10th 2015, is Safer Internet Day.

The good things that happen in the connected world make us safer and more secure because they demonstrate that people are using the Internet well. We all need to think about the “One Good Things.” that make the connected world a better place.

Please encourage your children and students to think about “one good thing” that the Internet has brought to each of their lives.

Read Third Grade Good Things for Safer Internet Day 2015.

Innovative Teaching: How on Earth Do We Get Started?

innovative teachersYears ago as a beginning teacher, I asked one of my University of Chicago professors how it was that my mentoring teacher seemed to do everything at once — teaching one group, keeping an eye on other parts of the classroom, and continuously but quietly communicating with everyone in the room — all at the same time. She even knew when a student some distance behind her was not completing the assigned task.

“She acquired those skills step-by-step,” my professor replied.

Today as we cope with the challenge of transforming our teaching skills to make what goes on in our classrooms applicable to the ever-changing world of digital information (a.k.a. innovation or 21st Century learning), many of us are renewing our commitment to lifelong learning as we explore and acquire a range of new skills and behaviors. We are learning, step-by-step, how to teach differently and stretch ourselves in ways that help students access, process, and use information in innovative but sensible ways.          Continue reading

Soundbites From Day Two of FOSI 2013 – Conference Post #3

fosi2013While I could not spend the entire day at the FOSI2013 conference, I joined the event around 1:00 P.M. after a morning at school and just in time for a terrific panel, Child Psychology and the Effects of Technology. Later I attended a session, Creating Trust on Social Networks, with panel members from the social media industry who described in some detail  how vendors and social media sites strive to commit themselves to user support, troubleshooting, problem-solving, and integrity — in theory, above profit concerns.

As usual, each of the break-out periods featured two sessions — topics that I really wanted to attend but scheduled at the same time — so I had the difficult task of making choices. Because FOSI2013 provided a detailed schedule before the conference began, I arrived with a pretty good idea about which session related more to the issues that I am currently thinking about and coping with at my school. Still, making this type of choice at a conference is always challenging. I’ve tentatively arranged to get together, face-to-face, with local colleagues who also attended the conference and swap notes about the sessions that we missed.

I might mention here that during a break my edtech colleague, David, and I struck up a conversation with Patricia, a conference attendee and government official from Kenya. She had arrived just before the conference and was leaving almost immediately afterward. He asked her if she would be attending the FOSI2014 conference next year and invited her to plan a few extra days and visit his school. I  chimed in and offered an invite to mine. Then we told Patricia that our independent school technology community is close-knit, and would welcome her at their schools, too.

To round out the afternoon, conference attendees all came back together to hear a group of experts discuss and distill some of the issues — privacy, digital citizenship, parenting, social media, connected life — that FOSI featured during the two-day conference. This was one of the most engaging conference activities, I think, because of the way the panelists — a journalist, an academician, a therapist, and a legal scholar — ranged back and forth over the topics connecting events and adding their own information.

Continue reading

Digital Footprint Series on All Things Considered

collecting dataWe cannot discuss digital footprints and privacy with children and family members too much or too often. The point is not to scare anyone — the virtual trails that we leave are becoming almost routine — but rather to help family members consider how much data we share, intentionally or otherwise, and whether at times we should consider making at least a few changes in our online behavior.

On September 30, 2013, NPR’s All Things Considered program aired the first of a series of reports on digital footprints, and it’s worth taking the time to listen or read and to learn more about just how much data is collected on each of us. I expect the other reports will be just as compelling. NPR is collaborating on the series with the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIROnline.org).

Reporter Daniel Zwerdling describes the obvious digital trails we leave behind with our computers, mobile phones, GPS-guided car trips, and credit card purchases, and also our less-than-obvious footprints from prescription drug purchases, traffic camera sitings, and wifi tracking and facial recognition cameras that track us in shopping malls. That we make digital footprints is not surprising, however the amount of data that is collected about us and used to form profiles is extensive and worrisome.  Privacy — our privacy — has gone out the window.             Continue reading

The Annual Beloit College Mindset List Is Out!

Check out the Mindset Lists of American History.

Check out the Mindset book!

Want to learn a bit about the students who are entering college right now and infer a bit about digital kids at other ages? Check out this year’s Beloit College Mindset list for the class of 2017.

Started in 1998 by two faculty members at Beloit, the list was originally created as a way for faculty and staff at the college to learn more about how easy it is for adults talk about things that they take for granted but that their students don’t know.  The website includes past years’ lists.

As parents and teachers we gain far more credibility with digital-age children when we understand that many of the things we refer to are not a part of their mindset, and when we make an effort to understand the context of their young lives.

A Few of My Favorite Items from This Year’s Mindset List

(But there are 60 items out students on the list.) Continue reading

Advertising With Kids as Targets

For several months I’ve been carrying around a New York Times article, How Advertising Targets Our Children, from the February 11, 2013 edition. Written by pediatrician Perri Klass the Well Blog post points out that recently published research links, even more strongly, the exposure of alcohol advertising to a child’s movement toward unhealthy behaviors.

Health Children Media Ed

Check out the Media Resources at HealthyChildren.org.

Dr. Klass writes about Exposure to Alcohol Advertisements and Teenage Alcohol-Related Problems (abstract), a Pediatrics article describing new research that finds a stronger association between unhealthy behaviors and the amount of advertising in the lives of children and adolescents. The researchers followed nearly 4,000 children in grades seven through ten.

Read the full text of the Pediatrics article.

In her article Klass quotes the researchers, experts from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy, and pediatrics professors from the Children’s Hospital at Stanford University who have studied the links between childhood obesity and screen time.

Continue reading