Supporting Healthy Social Media Habits

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This past Saturday at our third annual Parent University, I was fortunate to lead a short session on how parents can help support their kids in the development of healthy social media habits.  During the session, I shared some of the ways I have monitored my 12-year old daughter’s use of her newly acquired iPhone and her subsequent use of various apps and social media tools.

In regards to the monitoring of apps on my daughter’s phone, I love the way Family sharing on iTunes allows parents to approve the addition of apps to their child’s phone. This allows me to have a conversation with my daughter before allowing her to add new apps and ask the following:

  • Why do you want that app?
  • What will you use it for?
  • Will that app make your life easier in some way?
  • How much time do you think you will spend on that app each day?

One example of an app that we decided did not need to be added was Lipsi. When I got the request to add Lipsi, I immediately asked my daughter why she needed it. She informed me that it was an app that many of her friends had that allowed them to comment on Instagram posts.  I have to admit I was confused here because my daughter has a private Instagram account and she is only allowed to follow friends from school and pre-approved celebrities. Therefore, I am not sure why another app would be needed to comment.

Common Sense Media is a great resource for parents

In order to shed some light on this, I turned to Common Sense Media which is a goldmine of information on apps, websites, movies and books.  All you have to do is enter the title of the media source that you want more information on in the search bar and Common Sense Media will provide a review and rating. In the case of Lipsi, here is what I found:

“Buggy, anonymous app invites misuse, bullying.”

In addition, Lipsi is recommended for ages 18-plus.  Also, why would someone need an app that posts anonymous messages on Instagram? I told my daughter that if she had something to say about a friend’s post on Instagram that it should be public and the same should go for her friends commenting on her posts. There are enough stories about teens bullying one another on Instagram out there without this type of app.

Keeping a handle on screen-time is something we all need to do

Finally, we spent some time talking about the need for all of us to be mindful of the time we spend on screens.  While this is a neverending topic for me, one thing that opened my eyes was the Infomagical Bootcamp put out by the Note to Self podcast back in 2016.  One of the things I have done since my Infomagical experience is turn off all of my notifications on my phone and organized all of my apps. I encourage anyone interested in improving the balance in their lives in regards to technology-use to give the Infomagical Bootcamp a shot.

At the very least, you should check out your app usage on your iPhone or iPad and look at how much time you spend on particular apps daily and weekly.  There are also ways to do this for android users.   The latest iOS updates for Apple also include options for parents to set app and screen-time limits for their children.

It’s a new world for parents who grew up without the rapidly-increasing list interconnected tools and resources that are available.  It is important that we have an ongoing dialogue within our communities in order to ensure a healthy balance for ourselves and our kids.

Here’s a Google Doc with everything I discussed in my Parent University 2018 session.



The Best Of This Week’s Burlington Public Schools Weekly Twitter Paper

Did you know that Burlington Pubic Schools has a weekly Twitter Paper that is published each Monday highlighting the Tweets on our #bhschat hashtag from the previous week? So whether you use Twitter or not you can stay up to speed on the top tweets and blog posts that appear on our hashtag. Click on the tabs on the right hand side of the paper to check out the top posts in each category. I have also shared a few of my favorite excerpts from the blog posts highlighted in this week’s paper below.{id: ‘200dfe38-91fb-44ef-9675-ff7cb99e15e3’, width: 550, height: 680, background: ‘#ECECEC’, borderColor: ‘#DDDDDD’})

“The idea that we could cram all we hope our students could learn and know into a “common core” set of skills would be laughable if it weren’t for the fact that we’re trying to do it. In the end, the problem with the Common Core isn’t that it is too broad, it is that it is too narrow. It makes no attempt to teach kids the most important thing there is to understand: “The idea that we could cram all we hope our students could learn and know into a “common core” set of skills would be laughable if it weren’t for the fact that we’re trying to do it. In the end, the problem with the Common Core isn’t that it is too broad, it is that it is too narrow. It makes no attempt to teach kids the most important thing there is to understand: There is always more we can learn.” (from Chris Lehmann’s post – We Really Don’t Know What To Teach)

“If we don’t help kids connect to the entire world, not just information, but to people, are we not limiting the opportunities for these dreams to become reality? There are more opportunities for our students, not just in their future, but right now, then we could have ever envisioned. When we don’t help our students connect to those opportunities for learning and the experiences that they can have, then we are doing them a disservice.” (From George Couros’ post – Our Thinking Has To Change)

“Our school system doesn’t need to create kids who are good at school. Instead, we need to create an environment that engages learners, fosters creativity, and puts responsibility for learning where it belongs – with our students.” (From Shelley Wright’s post – Academics: What Is It Good For?)

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Parenting In The Digital Age…Join The Conversation

Dealing with digital devices in the hands of our children is a constant struggle for so many parents. How long should we allow them to be online? How can we best monitor their activity? Should we just ban certain websites or apps?  
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t spend some time thinking about these issues. With this in mind, I am looking forward to our next Parent Technology Night in January (see information below) where we will have an open discussion about these questions and others.  
In the meantime, I was struck by the following quote from a great blog post on Slate by Danah Boyd and Eszter Hargittai titled How Politics, Race, and Socioeconomic Status Affect Parents’ Fears About Tech.
While there is a great deal to talk about here, my takeaway is the following:

“The internet is a part of contemporary public life.  Engagement with technology is key to helping youth understand the world around them.”

Over the next month and half, I plan on reading two different books to further my thinking on this important topic:

The App Generation –  by Howard Gardner and Katie Davis.

Here’s A Great Way To Keep Up With #BPSCHAT – Our District Twitter Hashtag is a great resource to create a newspaper highlighting the feed from a Twitter hashtag. We have our own weekly edition from our Burlington Public Schools hashtag #BPSChat which you can check out below.

If you would like to receive a weekly update by email, just click on the subscribe button on the top right hand side of the paper.{id: ‘200dfe38-91fb-44ef-9675-ff7cb99e15e3’, width: 590, height: 680, background: ‘#ECECEC’, borderColor: ‘#DDDDDD’}) Enhanced by Zemanta

Our Newest Blog And Other Ways To Follow Burlington Public Schools

We are excited to announce the creation of our district’s newest blog – Burlington Public Schools Blog. The word “Blog” in the title is actually used as a verb to represent all of the active bloggers throughout our school district. This space will be utilized to share a blog post daily from one of our staff or student bloggers.

Here are a few other ways you can follow our district’s learning journey:

Our new district Instagram account – We will routinely post photos from around the district here.

Our new district Twitter Account – @BurlMASchools – While many of our staff and administrators have been on Twitter for quite some time, we have not had a general account for the district aside from @BPSAlerts, which we reserve for emergencies, and @BPSEdtech, the Twitter account of our EdTech Team.

Finally, we don’t want to forget our District’s Facebook Page which is another great way to stay on top of the happenings in our school district.

Let us know if there are any other social media resources that you would like to see Burlington Public Schools access to share information!

Marshall Simonds Middle School 1:1 iPad Program Details

Thanks to BPS Director of Technology Integration Dennis Villano for the great overview of our Middle School 1:1 program that will begin next month!

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Marshall Simonds Middle School will soon be Burlington’s second full 1:1 school. The BPS EdTech and IT Teams have been preparing for the deployment to students. Here are some important details about the initiative.

All students in grades 6-8 will be assigned iPads. Students will be using iPad 2s. Students will not be taking iPads home at this time. The MSMS iPads will be fully managed by Burlington Public Schools. The iPads have been set up using Apple’s Configurator program. Students will not be able to install or delete apps. Students will also not have access to the iMessage app. Safari will remain as the web browser for all devices since the iPads are staying at school. Burlington will be providing cases for all student iPads. Parents and families will not be asked to purchase insurance for student iPads.

Marshall Simonds teachers have been working on developing digital content and materials. Teachers have also selected curriculum based apps to be installed on student iPads. Although student iPads will have just over 40 apps installed during the initial deployment, we have always believed that any 1:1 program should not focus on just the device and apps. iPads and 1:1 environments provide students with constant access to powerful digital learning tools. These tools can be used to help create engaging content and lessons. Burlington continues to focus as much as possible on what we call Foundational Apps. We are also committed to having students and teachers use cloud based apps and services.
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Foundational Apps provide students and teachers with powerful digital content creation, distribution, and storage. Students can use these apps to complete assignments and return completed work to teachers. While not all classrooms will be paperless, the workflow provided by our Foundational Apps can enable teachers to use digital forms of content as much as possible.  These apps serve as the basic workflow for students and can be used in any curriculum area.

Please see the BPS EdTech Apps blog for a complete listing of MSMS apps. Click on the Middle School category tab to see all the apps being installed on MSMS iPads.

One of the best aspects of the Burlington High School 1:1 program has been how BHS students have take an active role in the learning process. Students have been involved in every step of the program from initial planning to daily classroom best practices. The 1:1 program has given students many opportunities for leadership in the program. A great example of this is the BHS Student HelpDesk.
Marshall Simonds will also have a similar program to the BHS Student HelpDesk. Each homeroom will have two Student Tech Leaders who will assist with the iPads and iPad Cart Management. Students will also the opportunity to be part of a new MSMS Student Tech Crew that meets during activity block periods.
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The MSMS iPad program will have the added benefit of some great new classroom technology. Marshall Simonds has recently completed a major renovation as part of a Massachusetts School Building Authority project. Every MSMS classroom has been outfitted with new wall mounted LCD projectors and AppleTVs during this project. Teachers also have access to the Reflector app for iPad mirroring. AppleTVs and Reflector provide MSMS with an outstanding technology infrastructure driven by a student centered classroom.

All MSMS students will receive their iPads during introduction sessions. These sessions will be similar to the iPad Driver’s Ed sessions that we have completed during the deployment of all BHS iPads. Students will learn about responsibility, care, foundational apps, workflow, and expectations.
MSMS families were welcomed to a special 1:1 introduction night on Monday, January 7. Here are some key points if you missed the event:
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Please continue to follow this BPS EdTech blog and the Marshall Simonds Middle School blog for more details and information about the 1:1 iPad program. We will also have posts about upcoming Parent Technology Events and family learning opportunities.
Dennis Villano, Director of Technology Integration