A Bit About Me

Monday, October 8, 2012

Week 1 - "Acceptable Use Policy"

A New Season, A New City, A New School

Last school year, I worked in Charlotte as a Technology Teacher with no SmartBoard. This year, I'm working in DC as a Technology Teacher with no classroom. Oh, the many challenges we all face in this new age of transitions in teaching.

For the first three weeks of the school year, I taught my Technology classes at this preschool thru 4th Grade school without using a single piece of technology, aside from the occasional use of my work laptop. How does one do this you might ask? I wish I could tell you it was easy, but I'll keep it real. You must first think of and conduct extensive research on all the things that schoolchildren should know about technology capabilities and responsibilities, then you must turn on the creative side of your brain and get to work.

The first week of teaching was relatively dry, as it was dedicated to understanding the newly created Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). With 30-40 minutes per class period this started off as a relative snore-fest, similar to what an average teenager might experience in a college lecture course on the History of Technology without the use or introduction of any actual technological devices. By the end of that first week however, I had begun to use real-world scenarios in my descriptions of the penalties and dangers that come with breaking the rules. Asking 6-year-olds the question of, "What might happen if you post your address on the Internet, where 10,000,000,000 users live?" extracts a lot of detailed responses that definitely get the ball rolling. Also, writing the number 10,000,000,000 on the board, an increment at a time helps the students to see and understand just how large the quantity of Internet users is.

When writing the number 10 billion, do it like this, and have the class read each number as you add the zeroes:


In distributing the AUP at the end of each class period, I required second, third and fourth graders to provide their own signature in addition to a parent's signature. This was primarily because they were at an age in which the expectations for compliance are much higher than they are for the kindergarten and first graders. In addition, just from taking a visual poll from each class when I read the words "Twitter", "Facebook" and "Myspace", only the second thru fourth grade students had the faintest idea as to what I was talking about. Several third and fourth grade students actually admitted to having Facebook pages and Twitter profiles. *Scary*

Below is the final AUP that was developed for the school. After conducting a great deal of online research and gaining a better understanding of my school's culture, I came to the conclusion that the best way to frame the document was in a positive light so as to ensure that the students would not look at the document as a mere list of rules. When developing an AUP for a school, it's important to use positive words, particularly when the document is created for an elementary school, as a great quantity of the students are still learning to differentiate between positive and negative, good and bad, right and wrong.

Acceptable Use Policy SY 2012-2013

The other challenge with that first week of school involved teaching classes of 3 and 4-year-olds how to properly handle iPads that were not physically available. This part of my week, tended to be the funnest in terms of student engagement. When teaching preschool and pre-k students about the importance of properly handling iPads its important to use comedy. I'd often ask questions like, "Are you going to feed the iPad a sandwich?", "Are you going to push the iPad down the slide?", "Are you going to give the iPad a drink of your juice?". These "silly" questions were a riot, and I quickly realized that the students loved questions where they could answer a loud, "NO", followed by a bout of laughter.

In approaching the topic of handling the iPads, we began with and continue to stress the importance of handling the iPad with two hands so that they don't fall and break. With the absence of physical iPads at this stage, we used one of the classroom books to practice passing the "iPads". Each preschool and pre-k class sat in a large circle on the carpet. Between 20+ students, we sent only one book around so that everyone could watch and model the way in which the iPad should be handled and passed. This required some patience on the part of the students, and a total of two wiggle breaks, but in the end I can honestly say that the students got the point. I can even attest to the fact that we haven't broken or dropped a single iPad to this day.

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