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!