Posted in 21st Century life, digital life, digital parenting, family conversations, parents and technology, social media, teaching digital kids

So What Happens to Social Media Data? Read the Terms of Service!

unnamedI am preparing to make a presentation to a group of well-informed teens at a school. In the process, I’ve reread the terms of service at a range of social media sites to remind myself about what can potentially happen to the pictures, comments, videos, and other content that we share on social media.

Social media is a part of life in today’s 21st Century world. Rather than wringing our hands about these apps, and the things that can go wrong, it’s a far better strategy for adults to proactively learn about social media, know what their digital children are using, and help them understand the power of social media apps. Moreover, every social media user — young and old — needs to develop strategies to use when things have the potential to go wrong.

Check out the terms of service for your favorite social media site. What do you think these policies mean for the pre-adolescents or teens in your life? The social media companies design these statements — albeit long documents — to make it clear what happens and what does not. What can you do to ensure that your child develops the necessary tools and strategies to think carefully about what content to post and share and what content to avoid sharing? Ongoing conversations about living in the digital world are a critical part of family life.

Each of the clips is from one of the social media websites, and I’ve added a link to each site’s complete terms of service document.  Most of the companies want us to understand these documents.

Continue reading “So What Happens to Social Media Data? Read the Terms of Service!”

Posted in 21st Century Learning, 21st Century teaching, coding, professional development, programming, teaching digital kids

Learning How to Code: Demonstrating How to Learn – Report #2

scratch_logoWe educators offer great gifts to our 21st Century students when we demonstrate that we, too, can learn new things. By letting children see us mastering unfamiliar information, figuring out problems, overcoming challenges, and yes, even making mistakes, we help them develop more comfort and confidence when they make errors and feel like they are not making progress. We adults teach all the time, but we probably don’t model learning new material nearly enough, and the kids notice it.

UnknownAs Ted Sizer wrote in his book, The Children Are Watching, they notice what we do and what we do not do. (A good book, by the way, for teachers and parents to read).

So this year I’m demonstrating how much I have to learn for students in grades one through five who attend my MIT Scratch coding activity. Literally, they are watching me learn how to code Scratch scripts.

Continue reading “Learning How to Code: Demonstrating How to Learn – Report #2”

Posted in 21st Century Learning, 21st Century teaching, coding, parents and technology, programming, teaching, teaching digital kids

Hour of Code Reflections: What a Difference a Few Words Make!

Image used with permission.
Image used with permission.

What if we encouraged young learners, when they encounter a difficult learning task, to replace the words “I don’t get it” with “I haven’t figured out the problem yet”? Can changing just a few small words make learners more comfortable when they work on unfamiliar or difficult activities?

I’ve spent the last month mulling over this word change idea after participating in Hour of Code activities with young 21st Century learners at my school in December. Watching the children in kindergarten and grades three, four and five solve puzzles and play the unfamiliar coding games was eye-opening because in each class the majority of students — and some of the teachers — were working on learning tasks that they had never encountered before (definitely terra incognita).                        Continue reading “Hour of Code Reflections: What a Difference a Few Words Make!”

Posted in 21st Century Learning, 21st Century teaching, connected learning, educating digital natives, teaching digital kids

AIMS 2014 Retreat Report #1: Grant Lichtman Presentation

Lichtman graphic
A photo of Lichtman’s title screen. Click to visit his blog.

The 2014 AIMS Technology Retreat is off to a terrific start with Grant Lichtman’s presentation about the challenges inherent in educational innovation and transformation. I’m attending this retreat with 150 tech leaders, librarians, administrators, and teachers representing more than 60 independent schools in the Washington, DC and Baltimore area.

Many of us think a good deal about how our schools might change and innovate. We consider how best to help our students make good use of their 21st Century access to vast amounts of knowledge. Most of us take seriously a new mission that requires us to enable students as they mold themselves into collaborators, dynamic learners, good problem solvers, and experiential learners. We also know that it’s critical to help them become confident enough to learn in a world that continuously changes (and at great speed).

This conversation is actually about becoming better progressive educators.

Continue reading “AIMS 2014 Retreat Report #1: Grant Lichtman Presentation”

Posted in 21st Century Learning, 21st Century parenting, connected learning, Great TED Talks, parent education, parents and technology, teaching digital kids

Real Answers to Parents’ Digital Questions? You Bet!

Digital World QuestionsMy greatest connected learner satisfaction comes when I discover answers to questions that I haven’t yet thought to ask — something that occurs almost every day in my digital world. Online I’ll search on a topic, read, or merely glance over a site, and suddenly I discover a resource and think — I need to know about that!

As I read the blog post, Learning Online: Real Answers to Real Questions, by colleague and master teacher, Susan Lucille Davis, that’s exactly how I felt. Davis shares a range of digital parenting resources that help to answer parents’ 21st Century learning questions, and along the way, she helps us realize just how much more we can learn in our connected world.

Writing for A Platform for Good, Davis offers resource suggestions that parents can use to gain digital skill and knowledge right along with their children, and teachers can share with their students’ parents.

A Few of My Favorite Tips  — For links and more information read the entire post.

  • I had no idea that parents can set up subsidiary e-mail accounts, despite the fact that I am on Google and Gmail countless times each day.
  • Somehow I’ve missed Joyce Valenza’s TEDTalk about helping kids expand online research skills, but it’s a resource to share widely in an academic community.
  • Good quality COPPA information sources, that provide basic information to share with parents, are hard to find, but Davis found one and it’s good.

I, too have found that parents need lots of information about digital kids and learning.  On my “class-on-a-blog,” initially set up for parents at my school,  I write about tools, apps, and sites. On this other site, Discover Your Child’s Digital World, my posts concentrate on digital adventures that kids experience and adults may not know much about.

Posted in 21st Century Learning, 21st Century teaching, cell phones, digital change, digital devices, digital parenting, iPhones and iPads, parents and technology, teaching digital kids, values in digital life

Managing Change and Learning in a World With Updates

os7 iphone 1It never fails!

Just when you feel good about your digital world learning curve, a new device operating system brings a serious case of update-time discomfort. While none of us ever stops learning, sometimes these periods of relearning tasks that, in theory, we already know pretty well can be daunting.

I work with educational technology in a school, where updates are part of the job. Yet each time I need to relearn routine tasks I get a healthy reminder that when it comes to digital skill problem-solving and tinkering, I remain a digital immigrant — always a bit slower at figuring out new things than most of my digitally native students.    [See note at the end of this post.]

A few nights ago, when I read the stories about the new iOS7 for my iPhone, I resolved to wait a week or two and let any glitches work themselves out. But the next afternoon, Julian, a middle school student, stopped by my technology office asking questions about the cool new iOS7 system that he was downloading — that very minute. I did not know the answers to his questions.

Aha, I thought. Some of my students may need my help. So the next morning at 5:30, I downloaded the new operating system on my iPhone. An hour later with a somewhat different looking device, I fumbled around, located my Audible account, and listened to my latest recorded book as I drove to school — while patting myself on the back. I can manage the new iOS7 — not to mention change.

Then I arrived at school, got out of the car, and could not turn off my book. For more than five minutes I stood in the parking lot tapping at vaguely familiar iPhone icons and finally managed to turn it off. But in the process I turned on some bluegrass music. I had no idea where that music was coming from, because as far as I know, bluegrass does not reside on my iPhone.

Continue reading “Managing Change and Learning in a World With Updates”

Posted in 21st Century Learning, educating digital natives, parents and technology, teaching digital kids, writing

English Teachers: The Skills Students Need for the Future

06 skills for future
English teachers suggest skills for the future.

A new report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, The Impact of Digital Tools on Student Writing and How Writing is Taught in Schools, shares the results of a survey of 2,462 Advanced Placement and National Writing Project teachers. Data were collected in online and in-person focus groups.

Pew researchers asked educators about the effect of digital tools on their students’ writing skills. They also wanted to gather more information about the digital tools that teachers use in their classrooms and find out whether these tools help students become better writers. Survey participants were also asked to share their views about the skills their 21st Century students’ will need to be successful in their future lives.

A Few of the Pew Findings

  • Many teachers believe that the increasing digital world audience for writers encourages students of all ages to taking writing more seriously.
  • Seventy-nine percent of the educators surveyed agree or strongly agree that digital tools encourage students to collaborate with one another.