During Information Media classes, your students have begun to learn about online safety and etiquette. You may ask why this is needed in elementary school. It is my experience that students as young as 2nd grade are starting to have an internet presence, whether it be on Twitter, Facebook, email, or while playing online games. After an informal survey this fall, it is clear students at Waite Park are no different. I want to make sure they know how to handle themselves respectfully, and also how to react if something online makes them uncomfortable or if they are a victim of Cyberbullying.
This is also a federal requirement as part of the Children’s Internet Protection Act: schools “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.”[i]
This is a precursor to some fun things we are going to begin doing this year, including using Destiny Quest, our online library circulation system. It is an in-house version of Goodreads with a dash of social networking thrown in. Students will be able to rate, talk about, and recommend books to students ONLY within Minneapolis Public Schools, and I will have access to view everything. Students will learn that there are certain rules to follow when interacting online. – Some classes have already started using Destiny Quest, please ask your students what they did in Media this week!
Students will also begin using their MPS Google Drive (GoogleDocs) to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations that they will be able to access from any location, and will allow them to work on group projects from separate devices.
Fifth graders will also begin learning how to use their student email, which many schools start teaching as early as 3rd grade. The rationale for teaching it in elementary is that, as a media specialist, I can instill in them the actions of a responsible digital citizen that they will utilize for the rest of their lives Developmentally, elementary students are more open and accepting to using email as a tool, NOT a toy, and harnessing this early will help prevent it from becoming a problem once Middle School pressures set in. I will be keeping a very close eye on all their accounts.
Your part: I am asking you to help. Ask your child to show you DestinyQuest, and write down their username and password. This username (Note from me: they probably will and should change their password in middle school) is the same one they will have throughout their time in Minneapolis Public Schools, and I am working to make it clear to them that nothing they do on their MPS accounts is private. Once they learn email (or if they already have it), check their accounts often, let them know that it is an open mailbox until they’re 18. If your child already has a Facebook account, please be aware that legally they must be 13 to register for an account; I suggest deactivating it until that time for their own safety. Once they do have an online presence, make YOUR presence very clear. Make sure they know that this is for their own safety, for the same reason you would not give them keys to your car or their own apartment.
1800 34th Avenue NE Minneapolis, MN 55418
Telephone: 612.668.1600 | Fax: 612.668.1610