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The Power of the PLN and education karma

Okay, here is the deal, I know this is a highly unusual post and request from me but bear with me for just a minute while I explain the importance of what I am asking.  At the bottom of the post I talk about a really cool new tool worth checking out. I am working on a rather large educational project that will make it possible for every teacher to customize and tailor curriculum and learning for each of their students without putting a huge burden on teachers.  I have met some wonderful entreprenuers and business minds as I have worked on that project.  One of those brilliant people is @Toma_Bedolla.  Yesterday Toma and I were talking about this big project and I was trying to convey the powerhouse that is my personal learning network.  People outside of this network don’t really understand how it works or how it can make a difference in the world.  Toma could see that I have a lot of followers on Twitter and that I follow a lot of people on Twitter, what he couldn’t see is incredible support system that it is.  We don’t just follow each other. We make changes happen. We pull together and network and brainstorm and collaborate and discuss and encourage.  People who don’t use social media this way have a hard time getting it. As we were wrapping up our conversation yesterday Toma mentioned this little contest he was involved in, a contest to get more fit.  Not education related per-say but I thought…what if I could use this contest to help someone outside of the PLN and outside of education see just what a powerhouse my PLN is?  What if by winning a contest (and subsequently $10,000) I could show someone outside of the PLN why it is worth investigating more, why it is worth investing in?  This is where you come in.  I’m hoping that I can get all of you to vote and help Toma out.  The problem?  The site is a PAIN to vote on, seriously, they couldn’t have made it more confusing.  But…it is really just 4 steps and if you know the secret (which I will tell you) it is a piece of cake.  Here is a hint I use on ALL websites that I sign up for that I’m not sure I really want to sign up for (education or not).  Use an @tempinbox email address.  You can type in anything you want before the @tempinbox.com and it will keep you from getting on lists you don’t want to be on.  To confirm the email just go to www.tempinbox.com, type in the preface you used infront of the tempinbox extension and you can click the confirmation in the email. Here’s the simplest way to vote: 1. Register for a free account at Precision Nutrition: http://on.fb.me/fZBnXk (sign up with that tempinbox.com account if you want) 2. Click the link sent in the confirmation e-mail. (If you used my Tempinbox trick go to www.tempinbox.com to confirm). 3. Scroll to the bottom to click Vote at: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/s2b-winners-2010 4. You will be redirected to the poll where you can vote.  Vote for finalist #8. Toma is only 146 votes out of the lead for the $10K first prize…  I’m pretty sure my powerhouse PLN can make that happen! I’m a big believer in helping each other out in any way we can, it creates some great education karma. 🙂 Now, for the part of the post where I share a really cool tool:  Toma is the brains behind a new website called How Tru.  You’ll have to take a look at the site to really feel its full impact but I have to say-this could be HUGE for education.  Toma describes it perfectly, everyone has a credit score…none of us had to do anything special (other than borrow money) to get that score. A credit score gives us a way to verify whether we can trust someone financially.  How Tru scores will give us a way to begin to verify a persons veracity online.  The ultimate in digital footprints.  The tool has a few implications for education: 1. It gives students and teachers a way to begin verifying the veracity of content. 2. It gives everyone a way to track their digital footprints and the footprints of those they follow.  Pretty cool!  I’ll write a full post as soon as the site is “officially” launched with my ideas of how it can be used in the classroom. Thank you to all who helped and feel free to spread the word! Now back to our regularly scheduled edutech content 🙂

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Netsmartz Kids: Router’s Birthday Surprise (Internet Safety)

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Evaluate, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Internet Safety, Knowledge (remember), Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 21-10-2010

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What it is: NetSmartz Kids is an incredible Internet safety site for kids.  I have reviewed this site in the past here, and use it every year with my students to teach and reinforce Internet safety.  Router’s Birthday Surprise is a new feature of NetSmartz.  It is an interactive video where students are drawn into the story, playing a contestant on a game show to learn online safety rules.  Clicky, the robot star of NetSmartz, is planning a surprise birthday party for his robo dog Router.  As they follow Clicky through his hectic day, students play games, help Clicky put the Webville Outlaws back in jail, and decide who is a trusted adult.  When students complete the video and games, they become certified NetSmartz Kids complete with an official certificate.  Students have to complete all sections correctly before they can be certified.  The complete video and game play runs for about 45 min, but NetSmartz has broken the video and game into manageable pieces so that it can fit in any schedule.  Students can watch a portion of the video and play the associated game and save their progress for the next time they are able to login.  Games include Make-a-Match where students think about the fun things they do online (history, music, jokes); What Rule is it Anyway where students play a contestant on a game show to learn about the rules of online safety; Get Clicky to Webville where students choose an Internet tube to get Clicky to his destination, Outlaw Roundup where Clicky captures the Webville outlaws and students match the outlaw to their crime; Who Can You Trust where students define a trusted adult; Router’s Gift Grab where students choose a gift for Router;  and a NetSmartz song about the four rules of real-world safety where students drag words to complete the lyrics of the song.

How to integrate NetSmartz Kids: Router’s Birthday Surprise into your curriculum: I truly didn’t think that NetSmartz Kids could get any better.  They have outstanding videos and songs about Internet safety that my students love year after year, they have fantastic educational resources (lesson ideas and downloads), and the games get requested by my students frequently.  Router’s Birthday Surprise manages to make it even better!  This interactive video is an excellent way for students to learn about Internet Safety and has the added bonus of tracking their understanding of the concepts being learned.  Regardless of what subject you teach, Internet Safety is something that we all need to teach and reinforce in our classrooms.  In the past, I have used NetSmartz in addition to the sites listed here to help my students learn proper use of the Internet.  The rule that I love that NetSmartz includes is the “Tell a trusted parent or adult if there is anything online that makes you scared, uncomfortable, or confused.”  I cannot tell you how many students see inappropriate content but fail to tell an adult about it because they think they will be in trouble.  This is a rule I make sure that my students know and a rule that I pass on to parents so that they can handle inappropriate web content appropriately (without banning use).

Router’s Birthday Surprise is such a nice addition because it invites students to be part of a story.  It breaks the learning down into manageable pieces so that it can be used in any class situation.  In the computer lab setting, students can each create an account and save their progress as they go.  In a classroom setting, the video can be played for the whole class on an interactive whiteboard or projector connected computer.  Poll students to find out how they would respond to each question and invite students to take turns coming to the whiteboard or the computer to interact with a game.  If you have a student response system (clickers) students can respond to the game show questions using them.  In the one or two computer classroom, Router’s Birthday Surprise can be played as a center activity over several weeks.  Each week students can complete another video portion and game.

In my class, after students had learned the Internet safety rules (which we came up with as a class), we would have an Internet safety quiz.  This was similar to a drivers permit test.  I made a big deal about how using the Internet is a privilege just like driving a car.  Just like driving there are rules to learn and follow that will keep them and others safe.  Just like driving they would have to prove that they knew the rules in order to get their license.  And just like driving, they could lose their license if they weren’t following the rules.  When students passed the test, I handed out Internet Licenses.  Most years I used their previous yearbook picture and created the license myself, but a few years before I had the pictures, I used the NetSmartz UYN club cards, these are great because they list the UYN rules on the back.

Tips: Mike Hill, a creative producer with NetSmartz, generously sent me some DVD copies of Router’s Birthday Surprise to share with my readers.  If you don’t have Internet access in your classroom, or don’t have reliable Internet access, let me know in the comment section and I will be happy to send you a DVD version-free!  If you need a DVD let me know why, and be sure to leave your correct email address when filling out the comment form.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using NetSmartz Kids in your classroom!

Comments (5)

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shelly S Terrell and ktenkely, gretchen caserotti. gretchen caserotti said: RT @ktenkely: NetSmartz just keeps getting better for Internet Safety new interactive video/game that takes the cake! http://bit.ly/cavDLt #edtech #edchat […]

Our kids LOVE Netsmartz. When I saw they had lyrics on their website, I asked them for permission to use them and record our own raps. What a blast. A lesson in copyright (an asking permission and a lesson in keepin safe online) http://mediaservices.solon.k12.ia.us/SCSDMediaServices/Site/Online_safety_raps/Online_safety_raps.html

@Kathy, that is a fantastic idea to have the kids record their own version of the raps. Great use of Netsmartz as a place for some creative inspiration!

Our kids love Netsmartz! Can you please send me the DVD for Router’s Birthday Surprise? I have been unable to download the video from their website and travel between 3 different schools thanks!

You got it!

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