OMG! She can share our address & other scary stuff!

First of all, I am suppose to know all about digital citizenship, online safety, and ed tech stuff, for middle schoolers anyway. I manage the 1:1 program and Innovation Lab at my  middle school. So this is suppose to be my gig. Somehow, I dropped the ball…

My 6 year-old had been repeating our address and telephone number to me for a few days. She was testing herself to make sure she knew them. I celebrated with her every time she recited them correctly. As parents, we want our children to memorize their address and phone number for safety’s sake, right? She is now in first grade and knows “a lot more stuff” as she will proudly tell you. She is reading, writing, and becoming “the best” at math.  Math is her thing! She is going to be a scientist, who will travel in space! Her words, not mine! She loves school and hates to miss it. Snow days are not her favorite kind of days. She misses her teacher and her friends when she isn’t there. She loves learning and exploring! She is sunshine walking, I tell you! So every time she spelled our address from the backseat of our car I cheered her on! Not thinking anything of it.

Recently,  Sophia began playing a new online game. She was totally into Minecraft, but found this app with other games that is apparently “more fun”, it’s called Roblox! With Minecraft, I would hear her speaking to players online, but she wasn’t really interacting with them. If you have little ones, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s all about their pretend play. She would do the same when watching Youtube for Kids. Talking to the kids playing with the toys (I still don’t get this). She didn’t have “friends” on there. We had set the privacy settings so that we could manage who could send invites. Up until this point I hadn’t really considered that playing these online games would be a safety concern, because she couldn’t really read, write, or communicate in the message threads.

Well that has come to an end. She is capable of communicating and so are your kiddos!

I woke up one night shaking, in a sweat, thinking, my six year old can now communicate online. She is reading and writing proficiently! My GOD, she now knows our address!!!! OMG! OMG!!!!!! She was spelling it out in the backseat of the car! Was she sharing it with someone online??????? She could now share private information online!


I woke up and stumbled for her iPad, opened up the Roblox App and started going through all of the friends!


It may not seem like a lot to you or barely a drop in the bucket for a tween, but this was my 6 year-old. She didn’t know them, I didn’t know them. They all had avatars and I couldn’t tell you if they were kids or adults!


Then, I started going into the different games (so many games) to see if there were messages. Sure enough, messages galore in the games. I could only see the last few posts. I did not see any from my little ray of sunshine! However, there were players on, playing and messaging when I went into the games. It was past 1:00 in the morning people!!!! So, I went to the Chat section! The privacy settings were not private. Anyone could chat with her. She knows her address and phone number! She could have shared that with any of these so called “friends”!!!

I was freaking out!


I was nauseous, and I was totally convinced that someone was on their way to abduct my girl! I immediately changed the chat settings to private. Opened every game she had played in the last few days, and read the threads. She did not write anything, and there wasn’t anything in the chats. Still, I was freaking out! She had a ton of friend requests! Who were these players?????? Did she share any information in the past? I had to know right then, or I would not sleep. I woke her and asked her if she shared her address or phone number online. Of course, she said she was confused, it was 2 am by this time. I did not sleep for the rest of the night, steeling myself for the child abductor, who was absolutely on their way.

FINALLY, she woke the next morning and I asked her why she was practicing her address, and did she share it with anyone online? I tried to be nonchalant, so that I wouldn’t scare her, but deep down, I wanted her scared, or at least cautious! She said no, and that she wanted to see her house on Google Earth. I was relieved and then, another concern came over me. She could now SHOW people where we lived!

Please, please, please, grab that device and check the privacy settings, the messages, and chats!

I took some time at that very moment to explain about privacy and information, AND I keep circling back to it. If you have concerns, but don’t what to do, you should visit Common Sense Media to get some helpful hints on how to talk to your little ones about online safety!



Good Digital Citizens or Just Good Citizens?

“Digital Media can amplify the voices of the marginalized.”

Patricia Brown,  ISTE 2018

I am supposed to be discussing Digital Citizenship and creative and copyright usage in this blog post, and I will.  First, I want to talk about some other aspects of Digital Citizenship that were highlighted at this year’s ISTE  2018 keynote address. The ISTE 2018 Conference is described by ISTE as an opportunity to “immerse yourself in powerful ideas and inspirational speakers while connecting with innovative educators who share your passion for transformative learning.” If you ever have the opportunity to attend ISTE, DO IT! You will be inspired and connected with others who want to change the world. This year the keynote address was so relevant for what is happening in our country, with and to our children. So I am going to add a little to my original post because it just seems appropriate.

Besides making sure kids are safe online and teachers are using creative and digital content responsibly, we need to focus on creating responsible and empathetic digital citizens, or as I like to call them citizens because the digital world is a part of our world.  I am currently attending ISTE 2018 in Chicago. The first keynote session focused on the ISTE Standards for Digital Citizenship. Yes, there was a reference to being safe online, but an emphasis was placed on using technology to make our community (our world) better.  Yes, more of that, please! 

“Digital Citizenship is about using technology to improve their (students) community!”

Patricia Brown, ISTE 2018

Key Points about Digital Citizenship from ISTE 2018:

Must actively teach Digital Citizenship to ensure active and vibrant democracy for the future.

ISTE Standards for Digital Citizenship are more than a list of don’ts!

It really is a list of dos!

ISTE Standards for Educators

Educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world. Educators:

3a Create experiences for learners to make positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community.

3b Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency.

3c Mentor students in safe, legal and ethical practices with digital tools and the protection of intellectual rights and property.

3d Model and promote management of personal data and digital identity and protect student data privacy.


ISTE Standards for Students

Students recognize the rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal, and ethical.

2a Students cultivate and manage their digital identity and reputation and are aware of the permanence of their actions in the digital world.

2b Students engage in a positive, safe, legal and ethical behavior when using technology, including social interactions online or when using networked devices.

2c Students demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.

2d Students manage their personal data to maintain digital privacy and security and are aware of data-collection technology used to track their navigation online.

Clearly, in this highly politicized and transformative environment, our students need to have the ability to recognize truth from fiction, which is essential to our society. We can’t teach it without some sort of context. We can tap into what they see and experience daily. Students are exposed to so much negativity. How can we help them process it? How can we help them find their voice, resources, and a way to contribute to our world? The digital world can be leveraged to support them and build them up to be responsible citizens of the world, not just good digital citizens. We need to make it our mission to facilitate their growth.

Now back to the original blog post…

Creative and Copyright Usage

Whenever I need to create a professional learning session for our teachers, I know that I will need to include a lot of digital media. Digital media and digital resources are staples in presentations, lessons, and activities. Teachers, students, and pretty much everyone we know expect to see media when learning. It is apart of everyday life. Digital media and digital resources make our information and messages more engaging, they make them come alive!  We want our teachers and students to share their knowledge and learning in a digitally socially responsible way. We need to support our learners in their journey in being responsible digital citizens. We as educators and leaders are charged with providing our learners; teachers and students with the correct method for using media and creative material.

In our middle school, our students are taught Digital Citizenship with Common Sense Media curriculum. Creative and Copyright Use are apart of the curriculum. Our students are gaining an understanding of what it means to be responsible in the digital age. We as educators need to emulate the expectations of a good digital citizen.

I am going to focus on modeling good digital citizenship for our teachers. Educators are very creative and are experts at developing engaging and interactive lessons and activities that integrate various media and digital sources. We want our educators to continue to be creative, but in a digitally responsible manner.

Personally, I have found the most effective way to support digital citizenship is to model the expected behavior. As an instructional coach and educational leader, there are numerous opportunities to do so. Whenever I host a professional learning session I use images from Creative Commons in my presentations.  It makes it easy to share and adapt work to include in your creations. Sometimes we can rely on the rule of “Fair Use”. Fair use is a trademark lawn that allows limited use of a creative property. Usually, it is acceptable if it is used for commentary or scholarship and/or it doesn’t replace the intended use of the original creation.

According to the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy...

Teachers can:

  1. Make copies of newspaper articles, TV shows, and other copyrighted works and use them and keep them for educational use-
  1. Create curriculum materials and scholarship with copyrighted materials embedded-
  2. Share, sell and distribute curriculum materials with copyrighted materials embedded-

Learners can:

  1. Use copyrighted works in creating new material-
  2. Distribute their works digitally if they meet the transformativeness standard-

Teachers can also use images that are considered copyright-friendly. I find the easiest way to do this is to adjust my Google Search to limit the images to common use for usage rights. Another way that I include images is to use my own photos or create images and graphics myself. I credit the images I use and request to share images of friends and colleagues.

When using music in a digital presentation, I use royalty free music from Ben Sound or Purple Planet. There are many choices that fit the theme of many projects and digital creations. Teachers can also access many online resources to curate digital material. The Media Education Lab has great resources that teachers can use in their content.

Recently, I worked with a group of students who created a video production about the technology in our school. We applied the above principles to our productions.

Tiger Tech Video

We made sure that we used our own photos, and royalty free music to create our video. It’s not quite finished, but it’s almost there!

Happy creating!