Our students have access to up-to-date digital technology with a complete computer lab in the elementary school and eight portable chrome book carts that contain 32 chrome books. We have interactive whiteboards in every classroom, as well as access to digital cameras and video cameras. Development of Wolf Creek's Student/Staff Device Zone allows our students to use a wide variety of personal digital devices to access the internet and create evidence of their learning.
Students can access online tools and learning environments through specific instruction on Digital Citizenship. This is reviewed on a yearly basis and emphasis is given to responsible online behavior. Proactive teaching in Digital Citizenship skills, students are taught to exercise regular and appropriate caution before providing personal information over the internet through email or other social communications from home or from school-based technologies.
Google Apps for Education
Wolf Creek Public Schools uses Google Apps for Education (GAFE) for all staff and students. This means that every member of the WCPS community has an email address and access to the various Google Apps available to us. Teachers and technology coaches will work with students to help them learn how to use these tools effectively. GAFE will allow our staff and students to do their work from just about any device, in any location. Gone are the days where we have to be able to log into our home server to access our files -- they're right there, in the cloud.
In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer's hard drive. The cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet.
GAFE work best on the Google Chrome browser, but will also work on other browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. Apps are also available for Apple and Android devices.
Watch for upcoming parent sessions on using Google Apps and how you can help your child(ren) use these tools to enhance their learning. In the meantime, if you install Google Chrome on your home computer, have your child log into his Google account on the browser (click on the three bars in the upper right corner of the browser and select Sign into Chrome), and then go to http://www.synergyse.com/ and install the Chrome extension. Synergyse will allow your child to get help with using whatever Google App they are working on at that time. Another good resource for help and hints is Google Gooru.
As always, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!
Links of Interest to Parents
Common Sense Media -- Reviews of movies, games, websites and TV shows, along with articles of interest to parents and educators.
A Parent's Guide to Facebook -- presented by ConnectSafely. From the main webpage of the guide: "It’s designed to help you understand what Facebook is and how to use it safely. With it, you will be better informed and able to communicate with young Facebook users in your life more effectively. That's important because 1) if something goes wrong, we want our children to come to us and 2) as the Internet becomes increasingly social and mobile, a parent’s guidance and support are ever more key to young people’s well-being in social media and technology."
Family Online Safety Institute -- an American site, but the resources are just as valuable for Canadian families. From the FOSI home page: "The Family Online Safety Institute works to make the online world safer for kids and their families by identifying and promoting best practice, tools and methods in the field of online safety, that also respect free expression. We do this through the development of public policy, technology, education and special events. FOSI is a trusted convener, bringing together leaders in government, industry and the nonprofit sectors to collaborate and innovate new solutions in child safety in a Web 2.0 world."
Help Your Kids Stay Safe Online
21st Century Skills?
Perhaps you've heard or seen this phrase either in something you've read or heard about school in the news or online. And you're wondering -- just what are 21st century skills? Well, simply put, 21st century skills are the skills your children will need to be successful in their world as adults.
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills defines these skills as including:
Core Subjects & 21st Century Themes (traditional school subjects, plus global awareness, financial, civic, health and environmental literacy)
Learning and Innovation Skills (creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, and communication and collaboration)
Information, Media, and Technology Literacy/Skills
Life and Career Skills
We probably knew many of these skills as life skills, but there is so much more to be learned with all the information we have available at our finger tips. We have to teach our kids to be critical consumers of information so that they can decide whether or not the information is credible and has value to them.
Because so much of their lives involve the use of technology, they also need to learn principles of what is known as Digital Citizenship. In many ways, digital citizenship is no different than common courtesy, but there are also additional issues around safety and security, health and wellness, online business transactions, and copyright.
Ten Common Tech Questions (and their high-tech explanations)
This article appeared on the Lifehacker website. The explanations aren't really all that high tech, and there are links to other articles that explain some of the answers in greater detail.
Top Ten Commandments of Password Protection
This article, posted by Facecrooks (a site that reports on Facebook scams and other online security issues), talks about important things to keep in mind when you are creating passwords, especially for social media sites.
25 TED Talks Every Parent Should Watch
TED is an organization that organizes conferences about what they call "Ideas Worth Spreading." In the past few years, TED has started posting videos of the 18 minute (or so) conference presentations online. Nursing Schools, an online nursing school resource, has compiled a list of TED videos on a variety of subjects related to parenting and children. More TED videos can also be found on YouTube.