Digital Safety Navigating our iPads

Today’s Contributor: Ana Gonzales is a bilingual teacher with a mixed age group, Kindergarten and 1st grade. Ana has been teaching for 13 years now and most of them have been at Kocurek Elementary. When you don’t Ana teaching students how important technology is for their future you will see her at the movie theater.

What can I say about the 2021-22 school year and technology? I am loving this one to one technology with students! I enjoyed that my 1st grade students came in with knowledge about how to use their device and navigate several items in it. This experience could also be because they had a fabulous kinder teacher, me!  

This year we had a lot of changes – not just in kids coming back from the pandemic but also classroom changes. I was assigned to teach a bilingual classroom with a mixed age group. Because of the mixed age group, I did want to take a different approach to technology. I wanted my first graders to see it as a tool to learn. They had access online books* so they could get more information about a topic by doing a little research. At the beginning of the school year, this was a difficult concept for them because they were not used to looking up information. At this point I felt it was important to be meaningful with their digital citizenship and safety. They had heard me say “No, Mr. J We can’t be friends because I don’t know you” after a video was played on YouTube. They thought it was hilarious and after about 2 days of hearing me say that, I asked the students, “Why can’t Mr. J and I be friends?” I could tell they had been spoken to about online safety as many students did make the connection to “I don’t know that person so we can’t be friends.” We had a conversation about different ways people might try to speak to them through their devices. We spoke about what things we can and can’t disclose to a person online. We also watched a BrainPOP Jr about internet safety.  

During this same time, several of our kinder students would take their iPad out in the morning while they waited for the classrooms to be open. It later came to our attention that some students were watching scary videos and were having trouble sleeping at home or were very anxious. As a team, we were able to have conversations with our students once again about digital citizenship and internet safety and what is appropriate to watch at school and what you need parental consent to watch.  

As I have these conversations with them and things develop in real time. I do have increasing confidence that they will make good choices about internet safety. 

*Epic books is a free app that is already installed on Austin ISD student iPads. Teachers should roster students by their first name only and not provide any other personally identifiable information.

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