I met with all grade 7 and 8 students on October 3 and then all Grade 5 and 6 students on October 6 for an assembly entitled, "Being a responsible digital citizen." The assemblies had the same overall message, but the details varied a bit for each assembly. Clicking the links within the text below will send you to a variety of resources in new windows.
Grade 7 and 8
Students who have been here since Grade 5 have heard from me in various assemblies over the years and during Grade 5 tech lessons. So, I started this assembly with a simulated Time Machine visit to what we've covered in the past.
I reminded them that in previous assemblies, they've been told about the importance of following the Terms of Service of social networking sites, including Facebook, that state that users must be 13 or older to sign up for an account. Then, once students are given permission from their parents to have a social networking account, I've explained the importance of getting permission from others before posting their image online. The differences between phishing and hacking have been explained, and I've given advice about how to avoid getting phished and what to do if they've fallen for a phishing scam. I've also given examples of how cruel people can be online, citing experiences by teens like Rebecca Black and adults like Jeff Pearlman, a writer for Sports Illustrated. Pearlman tracked down some of his anonymous online haters and found that most of them were contrite and embarrassed when confronted about their online behavior. One explained that he had let the "Internet get the best of him," so I encouraged our students not to let that happen to them. I also often share headlines from around the world of instances where what students (and sometimes teachers) have posted online has resulted in serious consequences.
Next, I showed the students a portion of the Student Handbook, which is printed in the Homework Diary. The section about being free from bullying was highlighted, and I explained that in this connected age, our community extends beyond the normal 8 am - 3:05 pm time that they are physically in the building.
I also highlighted the new Responsible Use Policy which is a part of the Student Handbook, and in particular, I pointed out sections that would apply to students as they interact in social networking situations.
Students then watched this video, and I asked them to pay particular attention to who is listening to this conversation:
No student could imagine one of their peers saying things like this in front of a parent, yet these kinds of comments do get made online. I reminded the students that they lose control of their words once they hit that send button. I asked them to follow the grandma rule: if they wouldn't want their sweet, innocent, grey-haired grandma to read what they are about to post, then it's probably not a good idea to post it at all.
Middle School Technology Coordinator Colin Bridgewater started at ASL in 2000 as a seventh grade English and social studies teacher and was a member of the ASL 1-1 laptop implementation committee. After 16 years of classroom teaching in New Hampshire and London, he moved into the technology role in 2008. Topics in this blog will range from musings about technology use at ASL to links about technology articles from around the globe.
For instructions on how to quickly navigate to the middle school technology pages and for how to be automatically notified when a new blog entry is posted, see the instructions posted here.