Category Archives: Technology
Great news! A spin-off from the first ever TeachMeet at our school, will be our first iPADMeet which will be held on 26 November. At the TeachMeet it became evident that there are a number of teachers and schools looking at or already using iPads. There were many questions around how they were being implemented, ownership, buying of apps, iTunes etc. There and then we realised there was need for a similar TeachMeet forum for the iPad, so here we go…
Please join us and let’s get the conversation started!
We live in such a busy world where many morals and values have taken a back seat and parenting styles are vastly different to when we were children. Obviously we need to move with the times and adapt methods of parenting to the issues of the moment, but the bottom line is that common sense should still prevail and parents should still be parents and not ‘pals’. This came through very clearly in a recent article from our school newsletter, written by our Senior Primary principal, Gareth Allman. With his permission I have posted it below:
Dear Parents and Pupils
As I am going to pen words of caution once again on this topic, I fear that people might believe that I am not a fan of technology and social media, and that thereby my words might lose credibility. Allow me to say that this is not at all the case – I am a huge, albeit amateurish, user of technology!
The role of Blackberry’s instant messaging platforms in the riots on the streets of London is by now well documented. The disturbing video footage of youths going on the rampage and looting stores is a vivid reality check of how something as simple as a phone can create so much damage. It was brought to my attention last week that many of our pupils are playing a game on their phones called ‘AMS’. This is an acronym for ‘ Ask Me Something’. Whilst it could be innocent, this is sadly not the case, with many questions being posed requesting strong lurid and sensual feedback. Now I know I could be perceived as an old crock and that when I was 12, if we had had cell phones, my questions would have been along the lines of, “Do you have petrol for your scrambler?”, or “How many pellets do you have for your pellet gun?” in advance of a walk in the bush! Yes, our children are growing up in a different environment and that’s not going to change. But this does not mean that we throw our arms up in the air, despair, and wish for the ‘old days’. It is incumbent on us as teachers and parents to be pro-active in the management of our children. I would even go so far as to say many parents need to take back the ownership and rights of parenting.
Children need to be checked on. And whilst they might retort with something along the lines of, “Don’t you trust me?”, this is not the essence of child rearing. In fact, parents might well be able to say that you do trust them. You trust that they will make mistakes! And that it is your responsibility to help them to learn from their mistakes.
Children need to be taught that they need to think before they post something. They need to understand that a social media mistake cannot be erased. They need to understand that a bad post can lead to bad reputations. They need to ask themselves, “Will I be comfortable with my father or grandmother reading this?”. It is way too easy to write something and ‘hide behind a screen’. They need to ask, “Will I be comfortable in asking this to an audience such as my class?” They need to understand that acceptable behaviour is not only required in public space, but in cyber space too. That Scotland Yard warned last week that those inciting violence on Twitter will be sought out and punished, shows the need for smart cyber space behaviour.
A fortnight ago I wrote about positive discipline. The follow through of that is consequences. Consequences are necessary in that they help modify behaviour. They transfer the need to be responsible from the parent to the child and place the problem squarely on the shoulders of the child. If boundaries have been determined for acceptable use of a phone, and they have been breached, take away the phone. Take back your right as a parent and do not fall into emotional games.
So, what are we as a school doing to educate our pupils in this regard? Besides the pastoral care and on-going incidental interventions, some parents may be aware that we are developing our own Life Orientation curriculum so that it is relevant to the needs of our pupils. One module that has been introduced is around the issues of being ‘cyber smart’. Mrs Stadler has also published a brochure called ‘Staying in Touch’ which was distributed to pupils and parents in the first term. In addition we are in the process of securing a guest speaker to address the Grade 6′s about being cyber smart.
I have just created my first QR code (Quick Response code) with http://www.qurify.com/en/. Here is an explanation of what exactly QR codes are, from the website:
These codes have endless potential in the classroom – imagine a scavenger hunt with all the clues in QR code format, spread around the school and the students have to scan each code to find out the next clue! What fun! Of course, it means allowing them to use cell phones, but there are ways and means of doing that – I’ll do a little more investigation. In the mean time here is my QR code:
The day has arrived! We are happy to announce that our school will be hosting the very first EdTechConf eXtended event at the end of September!
All the details are below – simply click on the picture to register. We hope to see many new faces at our conference!
[PLEASE NOTE: If you attended the inaugural EdTechConf in May this year, we kindly suggest that you pass this invitation on to your colleagues. This will aid the EdTechConf team in their efforts to reach out to as many teachers and administrators as possible, and avoid disappointment due to possible content overlap. Thank you!]
I’m on a bit of a mission at the moment and forgive me if this sounds like a rant, because it’s just how I feel about the topic of underage use of social media services and communication tools such as Facebook, Mxit, WhatsApp and other such services.
I work in a Senior Primary school where most of the children are between 10 and 12 years of age. A large number of these children (I feel a survey coming on, since I do not like to speculate on statistics) are using Facebook regularly and they also use MXit or more recently WhatsApp on their cell phones. (I know of Grade 4 children using WhatsApp). They also access You Tube regularly and a few of them even post videos on You Tube. So what’s my point? ALL these service have age restrictions on them and 99% of our children are too young to be using them! That raises the question then, are these children using these services without their parents’ knowledge or even worse WITH their parents’ knowledge?
Don’t get me wrong – I am an avid user of social media. I love Facebook and cannot live without Twitter. I know that MXit has changed the face of communication in South Africa and that WhatsApp is rapidly following suit. It is not the services that I have a problem with – my problem is that I am a person who works by the book. I believe rules are put in place for a reason and if they are there to protect children, why on earth would we want to break them? I can only think that ignorance is the problem. Our parents just don’t know enough about the ins and outs of services they allow their children to make use of. And what exactly are we teaching our children if we allow them to “bend” the rules by altering their birth dates? If the parents allow them this now, what else are they going to allow in the future? Where do they draw the moral line? Are these parents not bowing to the very peer pressure they are trying to guard their children against??
I’d really appreciate comments on this post. Am I missing the boat somewhere, or am I just old fashioned?
For your interest, I have looked at the terms of service for the following services to see what the age restrictions are:
Facebook: 13 years old
MXit: 14 years old (with parental permission)
WhatsApp: 16 years old
You Tube: 13 years old to view, 18 years old to post videos
At the end of a school term when things are usually winding down and slowing up, I find myself busier than ever, in the throes of two wonderful projects!
Firstly – the awesome, amazing and all-consuming iPad! This week our Grade 6 teachers took delivery of their iPads and this marked the beginning of our official iPad Project. We are now faced with the intricate and interesting task of mapping our curriculum to the amazing array of applications (apps) available from the Apple App Store. We have a huge task ahead of us, but having already done a little of the leg work myself, I have found that it is fun and most definitely addictive! Once you start, it’s very difficult to stop. There is so much available, one could work on it for days on end. However, since we are a team of 7 who will be working on this, each looking at a different learning area, it will be a lot easier and as the saying goes: “Many hands make light work!” Our first planning session is scheduled for next week.
Secondly, after a great meeting with Arthur Preston (co-creator of the EdTechConf mentioned in an earlier post) yesterday afternoon, it can now be confirmed that our school will be hosting a conference of our own, under the EdTechConf umbrella! We are so excited about this new partnership and the fact that we will be hosting our own conference. We have bought totally into the grass-roots concept of the EdTechConf, conceived by Arthur Preston and Tim Keller, and hope to add our own unique spin. The dates will be announced shortly, once a few minor matters are confirmed.
So, added to the fact that I will also be attending the ICT in the Classroom Conference in Johannesburg in the first week of the holidays, as well as an Apple workshop in the second week of the holidays, my plate is pretty full at the moment. Am I complaining? Not a chance!
Not long after my previous post, I got a call from my boss. “Come to my office – I have something for you.” I just knew it was my iPad, so I bustled over to her office (this involved a 2 minute drive by car, as we are on different campuses), and took delivery of my beautiful “baby”!
Only thing is, you can’t do anything with an iPad before setting up an iTunes account and downloading some apps, so guess what I’ll be doing this afternoon? BIG GRIN!!
I am patiently (okay, maybe not so patiently) waiting for my iPad 2 to arrive! It is on order because apparently the 3G/wi-fi version is as scarce as chicken’s teeth in South Africa, and as luck would have it, that’s the one I want. So, I just have to hurry up and wait for it to arrive… ho-hum… twiddling my thumbs!!
In the mean time, I am trying to read as much as possible about these beautiful devices. I am totally new to Apple products, have never used a Mac and so I am totally clueless in this department. This, however, does not mean that I am not excited about the imminent arrival of my device and what it holds in store for me – and the children at my school. We are hoping to run an iPad trial in the very near future. There are many hurdles and obstacles in our way, the main one being the financial implications of such a venture, but I am adamant that when we do, my lack of Apple/Mac product knowledge will no longer be an impediment! So, in order to learn, I am following blogs and reading up on all things iPad and as I go along, I am creating a list of useful links to share with anyone who reads my blog. (I’ve also convinced my husband to let me use his cell phone upgrade and now I’m investigating the iPhone 4!)
See my growing list of iPad links here.
Here is a close-up of the beauty that is iPad 2: