Be Internet Awesome

We’ve been using a pretty great resource from our friends at Google this year to kick off our conversations about digital citizenship and digital literacy. There’s an entire curriculum titled Be Internet Awesome for teachers and students to navigate through. What I like about it is there are teacher-led activities and there is also an online game component that reinforces what the lesson’s focus was. So far we’ve tackled privacy, sharing, and settings within apps to limit access, and phishing scams.

One of the biggest mistakes I see a lot of teachers make is assuming our students know how to interact with technology in a school setting. We know students grow up with devices and are constantly connected. It’s easy to assume our students know how to use technology and will utilize it appropriately in a classroom setting. But, similar to how we embrace discipline in our schools with Culturally Responsive Positive Behavior Intervention Systems, so too do students need to be taught how to use technology.

The Digital Citizenship movement has been gaining traction for several years in education, but I have always found it to be a little lacking. So much of the focus was on what NOT to do, stranger danger, etc. and less on the why we need to learn how to make these types of choices with technology. Students need the opportunity to explore when we should trust someone with information, what signs to look for, and thinking through what may or may not happen in a given scenario. While students KNOW what they’re supposed to do, they don’t always do it. And neither do we as adults, right? I mean, I know I’m supposed to get 3-5 servings of vegetables every day, but I don’t always do it.

So our conversations with students have to be about more than just what we know we should and shouldn’t do. We have to educate them on the why and the reasons behind our expectations around any behavior – whether technology is involved or not. Of course, it starts with relationships and creating an environment of trust and openness. We have to establish and maintain rapport with our students, we can’t ask them to take risks while at the same time sending the message that we don’t trust them by banning sites or cell phones.

How are you teaching your students to Be Internet Awesome? 

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Tinkercad Tutorials

Several classrooms at Mt. Hope STEAM have been putting their creativity skills to the test and designing different types of buildings and cars for their moon colonies. I love this unit because it allows students to be so creative while still implementing design and engineering principles to make it a bit more challenging.

Last year students used Google Sketch-Up and created some really unique designs. Sketch-Up offers a lot of really advanced 3d Design software tools, some of which are a bit too challenging for 4th graders to master. So, we decided to try another tool this year – Tinkercad. Tinkercad is great because it’s so user friendly and easier to design in 3D than Sketchup (at least for younger students).

Once students create their house and cars on Tinkercad, we’re going to use our 3D printer to print them. For theme night next week, we will have our moon colonies set up. It should be really cool!

If you’re interested in using Tinkercad with your students, here are a couple of tutorial videos I created for teacher and students. It would be easy enough to post a link to the videos either on your teacher webpage or as an announcement on Google Classroom. Then students could access them as much as they want, pause when they need to, rewind, etc. I hope you find them helpful!

Aligning a Roof Shape
Creating a Window
Creating an Arched Doorway

Going Beyond Google

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, several of the schools I am working with are Going Google. Earlier this summer, I worked with one of my schools and did some basic training on Google Drive – Docs, Forms, and Classroom, specifically. As with most things we learn, you have to use it or you lose it. I don’t take personally that staff doesn’t remember every single thing I taught them!

This summer I have worked hard to provide personalized learning opportunities for my teachers by providing drop-in office hours. A few teachers have taken up this option, but the majority have not. And that’s okay; we all need breaks and all are busy. However, as a Technology Integration Specialist, I want to share my knowledge and strengths to help teachers engage students in new ways and to hopefully make their lives easier! Starting next week and going through the month of July, I am offering some more in-depth and focused teaching of Google Apps.

While there is value in learning the technical “how-tos”, they don’t really help if you never provide teachers time to practice and practical ways to use these tools. Yeah, they are fun and exciting at first, but if you don’t have any real pedagogical and curricular connections, then what’s the point? My hope is that these summer Google training sessions will be useful for teachers.

Camp Google

Sometimes I am super jealous of young people today. They have so many amazing and unique opportunities available to them! I was recently at #ISTE2015 and attended a session about developing the innovator’s mindset. One of the things the presenter said that struck me was that the technology we have today is the worst it will ever be. Take a minute to let that sink in!

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In that vein, one of the coolest things I have seen Camp Google. Students can “go to camp” with Google. According to their site, “Google Camp is a free camp for kids, full of fun science activities and adventures led by experts.” There are several different themes and areas to explore, including Ocean, Space, and Nature. Google partnered with the National Parks Service, National Geographic, and Khan Academy to bring innovative and interactive activities for students. What an awesome way to spark creativity and curiosity in young people.

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Camp Google is designed for students ages 7-10 and students don’t need a Google account to participate. Students can participate throughout the summer; there aren’t set times or deadlines. Many of the activities ask students to use household items, but the camp itself is completely free! I love the idea of students learning and then creating something new. Providing students options to be active and connected to their learning is so powerful.