Welcome back, students, teachers, and parents!

We are excited to kick off the new school year with students on Wednesday, August 31. A couple important changes from last year:

  • All students in grades 3-8 will have 1:1 Chromebooks, with cart-based access to iPads and Macbooks
  • The Responsible Use Policy has been revised! Click here for the 5th-8th grade RUP. The 4th grade RUP is available here; 3rd grade is here; and 1st & 2nd grade is here. We will provide students with paper copies to sign and return to their homeroom teacher or advisor during the first week of school.

And here are a few important dates to note for the school year ahead:

  • UPPER SCHOOL PARENT FALL TECH FORUM: Tuesday, October 18, 8:30-10:00am on campus
  • COMMON SENSE MEDIA TEEN PANEL FOR PARENTS: Monday, November 7, 8:30-10:00am on campus
  • SCREENING OF THE FILM SCREENAGERS, Thursday, December 1, 7:00-8:30pm on campus
  • UPPER SCHOOL PARENT SPRING TECH FORUM: Tuesday, March 28, 8:30-10:00am on campus

Please be sure to visit mcdstech.org often for easy links to resources as well as ongoing updates. We’re very much looking forward to a great 2016-2017!

Reflections on March-9 Tech Forums

If you didn’t make it to our tech forums on March 9, you can still catch up on what you missed! Start by visiting the MCDS-Tech Parent Page–click through the links near the top of the page under “UPPER SCHOOL PARENT FORUM RESOURCES.” Or, for more of a firsthand look at what we covered and how we covered it, check out the video recording of our on-campus session. Click here.

Here’s a synthesis of what we learned from the parents who attended:

 

  • You want help filtering and monitoring tech use at home.
    Of all the topics we covered, this one carried the greatest sense of urgency and call to action. We covered Circle with Disney, Curbi, and Open DNS 
    as options for at-home filtering and monitoring. KoalaSafe came up as another viable option for some families. Before you set up these tools at home, we recommend you take stock of your family’s internet use and general philosophy around technology. If you need help choosing a tool and/or setting it up, please let Bobby and Christopher know. Questions we received on this topic included:

    – How can we give access to online research and protect from results of random searches?
    – Are there sites I should block? Can I?
    – Are you familiar with “Teensafe” and what do you think of media tracking apps?
    – How do I best control/limit tech access which is more restrictive than my child’s peers and not create World War III?
    – Even if I can monitor my kids’ screen choices, what about all his friends?
    – My kids are YouTube watchers. How much oversight do you suggest? Should I disable it and can that be done?
    – Why eliminate FaceTime from iPads? It makes it difficult to work together on projects. They end up having to use multiple devices.

  • You’re not sure how to help your child find balance and safety in their use of tech, and there is a wide range of philosophies around what makes a healthy balance.
    One’s personal relationship with technology is always in flux, even ours as adults. Just as we continuously work to calibrate our own connectedness and productivity, while also preserving quality time off screens, so should your children be awareness and reflection around this. As parents and educators, we’re partners in guiding them through this until eventually they gain independence. In our approach to this, we often refer back to the car-driving analogy: you’d want to be in the front seat with your child as s/he learns to drive, providing real-time feedback and guidance, monitoring for safety, and supporting the development of responsible habits before they go out there completely on their own. The same is true as your child learns to “drive” her/his tech devices.

    – How do we best focus tech time when it is needed for schoolwork, but can be a distraction?
    – I’ve observed what I’d characterize as addictive behavior with internet and games: strong desire; bad choices; inability to disconnect; changed personality/mindset after use.
    – How do you balance minimizing screen time with a child’s interest in programming / coding?
    – Does screen time for educational or creative purposes, such as making stop-motion videos, count as screen time? Should it be limited?
    – Our family is very pro-tech. If our kids do well in school, play sports, and have good social relations, why do we need to limit screen time?
    – I feel like too many interactions with my kids are telling them to “turn off” their devices. It’s taking over our relationship. Help!
    – I am so tired of seeing teenagers buried in their devices. How to manage this?
    – How should I limit the amount of phone / screen time? By decree? Using tech/apps?
    – How do you monitor homework / screen time on the Chromebook?
    – My 5th grade son loves to do his homework while connected to technology–eg, wearing headphones listening to music or taking occasional breaks to search YouTube…games… He seems like this actually calms him, almost like a “learning tool.” Is this ok? Thoughts?
    – I want to give my kids opportunities to explore. I try to use natural consequences in other areas of parenting. How do we do these with respect to tech? Do we need to change our parenting style for tech?
    – My 5th grader isn’t allowed to use devices during the week, but binges on the weekend. What can I do to help better manage the weekends? (We fight a lot about this during precious family time.)

  • You have concerns about your child’s sense of media literacy and/or use of social media.
    With such wide, ready access to information and media, students need help navigating the jungle of online media. This is further compounded by the fact that our students are producers of media as well as consumers, and participation in social media is often critical to their social lives. Key habits of mind that we actively teach toward media literacy include critical thinking, mindful awareness of bias and hidden message, and careful consideration of sources. Heris what some of our Upper School students had to say after learning about media literacy this past January. And here is an article from the Times this past November to help you get acquainted with the dangers of “vault apps.” As with other ventures in guiding students around technology, conversations on media literacy must be ongoing and continuous. Our work is never truly done!

    – In 5th grade my child was so engaged with discussions regarding stereotypes and how they are perpetuated. Now in 6th grade text conversations and photos used are often perpetuating the exact stereotypes disputed last year–a 180 turn, but the train has left the station. How to continue conversations that took place in 5th grade? Teachers have a different and more powerful impact than a parent in this realm in my opinion.
    – I’m worried about the sexualization of girls through social media, as well as “selfie/self-absorbed” culture. How to address this with children, both boys and girls?
    – What are the drivers around what boy vs. girl teenagers post to social media?
    – Feels like a cultural shift–few boundaries with privacy and personal lives–how to handle this?
    – How do you explain to your child your reservations about apps and social media that have a “like” or popular component?
    – How are children using VSCO? All seem to have a link in their Instagram bio. Is it just another “story?”
    – How private is Yik Yak? It seems to be the main vehicle for sexting.
    -The way kids are receiving info now is very different than the way we receive info–newspaper, radio, TV. How can we help our children with this plethora of info, and how to help decipher content and go deeper than headlines?
    – What are some appropriate things a child can say/do when on an uncomfortable group text?
    – Am I hampering my child socially if I do not let him have the devices most of his friends have?

As you synthesize your parenting approach around all these complex issues, you may also want to check out this letter to MCDS parents from Dana Blum, Bay Area Director at Common Sense Media, who attended our forums March 9th.

Our MCDS Tech Department has gained enormous insights from the parent community through those March-9th forums and the communications that followed. We hope to continue such dialogue in order to best serve your current needs. We welcome the exchange of questions, ideas, and resources as a learning community.

Please contact Tech Director Bobby Bardenhagen and/or Ed/Tech Coordinator Christopher Warner with questions or input.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

MCDS Upper School Parent Tech Forum coming up March 9!

MCDSUSTF39

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

MCDS is a Common Sense Media Supporter School

A note on what this means:

Digital media and technology are evolving at a dizzying pace, both unlocking extraordinary opportunities and posing real risks for young people. Issues that emerge from this 24/7 “connected culture,” such as cyberbullying, privacy lapses, and uncertainty about which information to trust online, are surfacing both in schools and at home.

To address these issues and help students harness technology for learning, MCDS has been teaching our students how to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly with technology. Weve just been recognized as a Common Sense Digital Citizenship Certified School for these efforts. This recognition is provided by Common Sense Education, part of a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology.

We encourage you to reinforce digital citizenship skills at home. Here are some tips from Common Sense:

  1. Be kind: Try to instill a sense of empathy in your kids. Remember that theres someone else on the other side of the screen.
  2. Keep private things private: Talk about whats OK for kids to share online and whats not.
  3. Dont believe everything you see: Your kids should understand that just because its online doesnt make it true. Not everybody is who they say they are.
  4. Dont overshare: Help your kids understand what it means to share online, and encourage them to pause before they post. Show them how to use privacy settings.
  5. Stand up for others: Talk to your kids about cyberbullying. If someones getting bullied or picked on, your kids should speak up, report it, or reach out. They should know that they can come to you for help and how to flag misbehavior.

 

For more questions (and answers!), check out Common Sense Medias Parent Concerns (www.commonsensemedia.org/parent-concerns) resources.
Fostering responsible behavior online is crucial in helping our students thrive in todays digital landscape and harness the power of technology for learning, in and out of the classroom. MCDS is proud to be part of the movement redefining the way our students interact with technology.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

6th and 8th graders explore media literacy

Students' ideas on media literacy
Ed/Tech Coordinator Christopher Warner and Upper School Counselor Rush Sabiston Frank recently completed a four-part media literacy series with 6th and 8th grades.The series began with a discussion about what media is and why it matters: where we find it, how it finds us, what forms it takes, and what messages–hidden or overt–it holds. The group explored how to be more mindful and critical about what they see, hear, and read in the constant stream of media around them.
From there, students watched clips from the youth version of The Mask You Live In and Miss Representation to discuss one aspect of media literacy: how gender roles and stereotypes are reinforced through the media. The clips focused on
  • friendships among boys in elementary and middle school;
  • neuroscience vs culture as they relate to gender;
  • how toy companies market separately to boys vs girls;
  • how boys are often told it’s not ok for them to assume what are often viewed as “feminine” attributes–showing feelings like sadness and fear, communicating deeply, or valuing connections and relationships;
  • how girls and women are often judged based on their looks;
  • often-unrealistic media images of girls and women;
  • the lack of strong female protagonists in books and movies, and a tendency for the few female protagonists to be sexualized and/or looking for a man to love her;
  • the lack of strong women role models in government leadership, science and tech fields.

After each clip, Christopher and Rush facilitated group discussion around what the students found relevant, interesting, confusing or untrue. In one exercise, they asked students to think of a positive male figure in their lives and try to identify (silently or out-loud with the group) what characteristics made them respect or admire that male figure.

The sessions closed with the students brainstorming what kinds of media they might encounter in their everyday lives, and how they might be more mindful of the messages they receive from that media. Ideas included social media, radio & TV news, magazines, websites, print-ads and television commercials. The upcoming Super Bowl presents an excellent opportunity for students to practice their media literacy and critical thinking skills around what they see and hear.
Also as a closing exercise, the 8th graders also compiled advice for the 6th graders to help them manage the world of media. Some of that advice, as well as written feedback from the students, is included below. We hope parents and teachers will continue these conversations at home, on campus, in the car, and out in the world.
8TH GRADERS’ ADVICE ABOUT MANAGING THE WORLD OF MEDIA:
  • Don’t try to live up to unrealistic expectations.
  • Recognize that not everything you see or read is true.
  • Put what you see in the media into perspective, and don’t let it change who you are.
  • Don’t pressure your peers to be a certain way.
  • Look for positive role models.
  • Everyone has a different body shape and size. “Perfect” is not real.
  • Be friends with people who make you feel good about yourself.
  • Don’t follow someone on social media if they’re spreading negative messages.
  • Be yourself.
  • Do not listen to the stereotypes; you can do what you want.
  • Sometimes the media can try to brainwash you.
  • Enjoy life off of your screen.
  • Eat healthy, but don’t starve yourself.
  • Be aware of gender roles and images in the media.
  • Get ad-block.
  • Look at media skeptically.
  • Make educated decisions.
  • Watch women’s sports.
  • Admire celebrities because of their capabilities, not their looks.
  • Don’t focus on Hillary Clinton’s choice of business suits.
  • Accept yourself. You’re beautiful the way you are.
  • Choose more media with values you agree with. Do you agree with the lyrics of the music you listen to?
  • Be aware of what you put out on social media.
STUDENT FEEDBACK FROM THE MEDIA LITERACY SERIES:
  • This was very helpful to me, and I could relate to much of it. I’m taking away that there are other people out there who feel like me.
  • I learned to be more aware of stereotypes.
  • I thought this was good but could’ve been longer.
  • My brother never talks about his feelings.
  • It made me really think about others’ feelings.
  • I’m realizing how many stereotypical commercials I’ve seen.
  • I really liked watching the videos.
  • I learned that boys sometimes can’t show their true selves.
  • There are many more gender stereotypes for boys/men than I thought.
  • I learned that boys often try and act tough.
  • I never thought of advertising being bad until now.
  • This makes me think of how I am going to shape my future, how we want it to be.
  • I learned that some boys are taught not to show feelings.
  • I look at media differently now.
  • I learned that young girls look up to women in the media who set unrealistic beauty standards and are not usually portrayed as intelligent and independent.
  • I wonder how the social dynamic changes from middle school to high school.
  • All women/girls should have the same opportunities that boys/men have.
  • I thought it was interesting that the number of girls who want to be President is equal to boys when they are young.
  • I never knew that the media had so much to do with everything.
  • I believe learning about gender expectations and stereotypes at an earlier age would be more effective.
  • I now notice when I watch TV and movies the gender roles and how set they are.
  • Mulan was the only Disney princess who wasn’t focused on a man.
  • If there wasn’t a figure that all women tried to look like, would men see beauty in a different way?
  • Are men or women more “guilty” for negative stereotypes?
  • Women need to be shown in more diverse roles.
  • Watching these films has made me question the amount of time I spend on my phone and watching TV instead of hanging out with my friends/family. I think it has changed my attitude.
  • After watching the movie, I think I understand myself better.
  • I didn’t know by saying “don’t cry” or other little things, you can impact the child without knowing.
  • I didn’t realize small phrases like “be a man” could effect someone so much.
 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

Scratch online course for 4th-8th graders

scratch image

Summercore is offering an online Scratch coding course for 4th-8th graders, January 25 – 14, at a cost of $99. Topics will include sprites, variables, loops and animation, game design, tessellations, and fractals. This course starts “from scratch,” but moves quickly through the 4 lessons. There are homework challenges, and students will be able to see and learn from each other. For more info and signup, visit this site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

Hour of Code 2015

This week’s 2015 Hour of Code proved to be a great success at MCDS! Grades 2-4 chose coding exercises from this page. The most popular by far were Star Wars and Minecraft, followed by Flappy Bird. These coding challenges beautifully added new life to the regular, ongoing coding practice we began in September.
Also this week, kindergarteners programmed BeeBots; 1st graders used Scratch Jr to build games and presentations; and upper-schoolers practiced CS using Code Combat, robotics, JavaScript and Python. Third graders user-tested and gave feedback to Motion Math developers on their new apps. Even faculty got involved when Bobby brought his daughter’s wearable-tech “Elsa” dress to inspire adults to learn some simple coding!
To help gear up for Hour of Code, last week many classes watched this series of three short videos:
We close the week feeling excited and inspired in our work as the next generation of computer scientists.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

Fresh-off-PD tech tips

I recently attended two professional development conferences–the Google Ed Summit in Mill Valley and the CUE (Computer Using Educators) Conference in Napa. I left both of them feeling newly excited about some handy ed/tech tools for easy use in the classroom. Here are just a few. Enjoy!

TOPIC 1: Google “My Maps”

With Google My Maps, teachers can build class community or deepen their curricula. My Maps allows students and teachers to create personalized maps showing places that are

  • important to their own lives;
  • involved in the stories and books they read; and
  • essential to the history they study.

To try building your own My Map, simply go to drive.google.com and select New –> More –> Google My Maps. You can drop pins anywhere you like. You can choose satellite or street view. You can customize the symbols you use as pins on the map. You can create new layers, which you can filter on/off with the click of a button. And you can share My Maps like you share Docs–all very user-friendly.

(PS~ For a really fun web-based maps game, check out Smarty Pins game.)

TOPIC 2: Youtube to facilitate, enhance, and inspire learning

TOPIC 3: Coding

In addition to learning new ways to implement coding tools we already use at MCDS (BeeBots, Scratch, Tynker, Python), I also picked up some possible new coding resources:

TOPIC 4: Other handy tools

Teachers–consider adding some or all of these tools to your bag of tricks!

  • 50-second Video: How to edit a photo on a Chromebook
  • Clearly extension (requires Evernote premium account)–clears out all the “noise” from a website and just saves the text (eg a CNN.com article)
  • Boomerang for Gmail–Allows you to schedule messages to be sent or returned at a later date.
  • OneTab–send a whole collection of tabs via QR code, rather than as a series of links
  • NoCyrus – Block any page that has Miley Cyrus or the word “twerk” on it
  • Desmos Graphing Calculator
  • Kahoot for teachers (www.kahoot.it for students): students can vote, respond to questions, and reflect at the end on what they learnedso teachers receive that feedback. Students can also re-take quizzes and compete against themselves from the previous round. Motivating!!
  • Quizizz – similar to Kahoot; some think it’s better.
  • Thinglink & EdPuzzle (chop up videos so questions get asked along the way)
  • VOICE FEEDBACK: KAIZENA
  • Vocaroo–embed link of voice recording (Good for world language or teacher feedback, or for assessment for kids w print disabilities)
  • Easel.ly–create and share INFOGRAPHICS online (set of pre-made templates to choose from)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

Google Search Tips

Check out this handy list of tricks to achieve more powerful search results:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

Reducing screen time at home with some fun projects

As I feel fall settling in and hopefully some much needed wet weather ahead, I wanted to share some ideas for projects at home during those cooped up, rainy days. It is easy to let the unending allure of tablet, phone and computer screens help pass the time, but here are some ideas that still involve technology yet move the focus away from the screen. Both of these projects are ones that I have done with my own children during our evening “project time”

Makey Makey

What is it?

This is a great little board that plugs into your computer and essentially becomes an extension of the keyboard. This board will work great with any computer or laptop – you can even use it with a Chromebook.   

How does it work?

The board simply plugs into your computer through the USB port. Once the board is plugged in, you connect the provided wire to an object that you want to take the place of a particular key on the keyboard. One of the most popular examples is to connect the Makey Makey to a some bananas to create a “banana piano”. The provided wires have easy to connect alligator clips that allow you to attach one end to the Makey Makey board and the other end to the banana. The final step is to connect  one end of a cable to your wrist and the other end to the “ground” area of the Makey Makey board.

Watch the video below for some fun and creative examples!

3Doodler

I love coming up with projects on my home 3D printer, but it can be a bit involved if you simply want to create something quickly.   This is where the 3Doodler pen comes in handy.  

What is it?

THe 3Doodler is the “World’s only 3D printing pen” according to its creator.  

How does it work?

THe 3Doodler is basically the part of the 3D printer that squirts out the melted plastic that makes the many layers of a 3D printed object. Instead of having a bunch of motors move  the stream of melted plastic around, you use you arm to “draw” in three dimensions. It is not as precise as a 3D printer, but this allows for some very creative structures that could not be done using a conventional 3D printer. Here is a video showing the various possibilities.

I hope you enjoy these fun tools as much as my family does. Happy Creating!

-Bobby

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>