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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cyber Security and the Start of School

With school beginning, now is a good time to remind our children about cyber-security and being good citizens in the digital world they will be sharing.

Many school districts are funding 1:1 devices for every student in their school. This may mean that your child will be bringing home a chrome book, net book or tablet to use which is issued by the school. These devices usually replace the paper-bound textbooks and may or may not have internet access. If they have internet access please take the time to talk with you child about internet security, cyber-bullying, and keeping your (and their) privacy secure.

When in doubt about cyber-bullying or internet safety and security - ask. Ask your child's teacher for a copy of what the school is teaching about internet and digital safety. If they don't know, ask the administration. Schools are subject to the Children's Internet Protection Act CIPA . They have two certification requirements: 1) their Internet safety policies must include monitoring the online activities of minors; and 2) as required by the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act, they must provide for educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms, and cyberbullying awareness and response. Ask for how they are meeting these requirements.

Here three great ways to keep the school devices safe while at home:

1) Read the Acceptable Use Policy when it comes home. As a parent you will need to read, sign and return the document stating that you understand the penalties of misuse. Read it carefully and if you don't understand any of the policies, ask the teacher. If you don't feel you got a sufficient answer, ask the administration for clarification (in writing is always good at this level).

2) Explain to your child about using a school issued device. Anything stored, transmitted from, or download that is not allowable (including copyrighted material) may be subject to removal, loss of use, or depending on the severity school discipline.
3) Ask to see and review the device frequently. Remember, this group of students will be among the first to use a digital device from early grades on in their education. If we ask them to share how they are using it, to "teach" us about the technology, we will be learning and looking to see if they are being good digital citizens.

Remember, if you don't know what an "app" is or does; or the terminology of cyber threats, take the time to learn. Technology is doubling every 18 months, so it's okay to ask for help.

For more on digital citizens and cyber-safety visit the following sites: - FBI's website (relaunching in September) for teachers, parents and guardians providing information and reporting tips for cyber threats. - videos, guidelines and resources for the whole family on how to be safe online. - Internet safety for just for teens (includes games, interactive videos, etc.) School district's responsibility in providing educational resources for internet safety.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Parent University is a great idea!

The Metro Nashville Public Schools started their school year the first week of August. Included in the beginning of school was a Saturday called "Parent University."

Picture representing Parent University

Parent University is just what it means. It is a celebration for parents to meet school district personnel, make relationships, learn from presenters on a variety of subjects - from Cyber-bullying to developing online portfolios, to navigating the difficult departments and personnel of a "central office."

Allowing the parents throughout the district access to ask questions, provide information, and help with materials and ideas for their children is a great way to build positive relationships at the beginning of the school year.   Some how, when you meet a school official at a Parent University setting one has a conversation that is relaxed and informational as opposed to meeting a parent frustrated and trying to find resources for their children.

It is a community wide efforts, with social resources, government resources, along with business and educational services all in one location and all with one purpose - to assist and equip parents to help children be even more successful.

Check out the Parent University website for ideas for your community.

Reflecting and Renewing...Simple Organization

The beginning of school brings the smell of new book bags, fresh markers, highlighters, packs of paper and clean unused binders or folders. As we gather materials for the beginning of a new school year we should also pause and reflect on how we processed and organized our papers and supplies in previous years.

Do we really need all of those pens and markers on day one? Should we just get what we need and then replenish as we move through the year. Storage is always a premium in the classroom and in your backpack. Plus, if you store them at home, will you remember the safe place where you put the extras?

What is important to carry from class to class or from school to home? We know we need some method of note tacking and assignment tracking, but do we really need a spiral notebook for each class? Why not one notebook for all classes and use post-it tabs and post it notes to accentuate important ideas and materials that would be on a test. This way you carry one notebook or comp book and take all the notes for the classes. As you study and research you have everything in one place and not running the risk of forgetting the notebook that you really need when you get to the library and realize it's at the dorm or the apartment or worse, the trunk of you car -- have you seen things survive there?

Thinking about organization and reflecting on how you used things in previous educational journeys has allowed me to have one main, bound, composition book; then a small take-out box with colored pencils, post-its, and highlighters to make the book interactive. Try it. It's working for me.