Yes, You’re Still In The Right Place

In case you haven’t noticed, Applewild Technology has had a makeover. It was time for a fresh, clean new look. All the content is still here, and mostly in the same places. I hope you like it!

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Common Sense Media

If you’ve had a conversation with me in the last two weeks, you’ve probably heard me talk about Common Sense Media. It is my new favorite resource for digital literacy. I first learned of Common Sense Media as a review site, and have been using its straight-forward book reviews to guide my purchasing for a while. It wasn’t until I started exploring a little that I discovered that book, movie, video game, and website reviews only scratched the surface of the content on this site.

As it turns out, Common Sense Media is an educational non-profit that seeks to teach parents, teachers, and students about using media responsibly. They have created an entire curriculum (grades K-12) on digital literacy and citizenship that is the most comprehensive I have ever seen. There are lessons on the basics, like Internet safety and privacy, but there is also content that addresses the influence of the media on kids and teens, how to manage your digital life, online bullying, and how to evaluate digital media for accuracy, bias, and relevance. There is a separate section that aims to show parents how to effectively teach the importance of media literacy, as well.

In addition to education, Common Sense Media is about advocacy. There is a section of the website devoted to research and policy, and the site makes it easy to contact lawmakers with your concerns and suggestions.

I am planning on beginning to teach the Common Sense curriculum in grades 1-4 starting in March, so stay tuned for more. If you’re interested in learning about the curriculum, you must sign up with Common Sense Media as an educator, but it is free and easy. They don’t spam with emails, though they do occasionally send out very informative articles on media and children.

This is a great resource for educators, but it is also something that I pass along to parents. If you’re struggling with what to tell kids about the media that bombards them every day, everything from the news to movies to the latest celebrity gossip, there is advice on Common Sense Media that is not alarmist or political, but just plain…common sense!

For more on Common Sense Media, come to our next Technophiles meeting. In the meantime, here are some relevant and informative articles to get you started:

YouTube for Schools

Though it is one of the most commonly blocked websites at schools across the country, YouTube is trying to get into the education game. A new channel on the video service website curates videos that can be used in classes, sorted by grade level and subject.

The quality of the videos varies, but there are some good resources here. The organization is also really helpful, saving you lots of time by making it easy to find videos on the topic you’re looking for. As a matter of fact, the slogan of YouTube for Schools is “Spend more time teaching, less time searching.”

Take a look at this video on magnetic breakfast cereal!

How Will Google’s New Privacy Policy Affect You?

You may or may not be aware that Google recently unveiled a new privacy policy, one that covers all of its products (one policy to rule them all…) There’s quite a bit of confusion about what exactly this change in policy means, how it affects searching, and whether it’s worth it to continue using Google products. If you are a user of Google (Gmail, YouTube, Android devices, and any number of other Google-owned products), it’s important that you know about these changes, and what they mean. It is especially important as many people begin to migrate their personal (and professional) data to Google.

One of my favorite tech blogs, Gizmodo, provides an excellent explanation. It covers the big questions (how does the privacy policy affect searching and ad targeting, what information does Google collect, what is the impact on Android) in a really balanced way. It is not exactly impartial; the author, Brent Rose, makes clear which features make him uncomfortable. However his analysis of the impact of this change is pretty well-balanced, and representative of the general tech-world opinion.

EdWeb

EdWeb is a simple way to plug into the education community. It can be really difficult to stay on top of professional development, but Ed Web offers great tips and tools, and even free webinars on a variety of topics that are current and relevant. The site is separated into several communities, some which are actually school communities, others that are by discipline, grade level, or interesting topic. I’ve joined a few, including “Emerging Tech: Using Technology to Advance Your School Library Program,” and “TechTools for the Classroom: Easy Ideas to Engage Students.” There are hundreds of them, so it’s likely that you’ll find one that is truly relevant to your teaching. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can create your own community.

Each community contains a forum, where members can discuss and exchange ideas, a blog, a document library, and several other useful tools. They also conduct free webinars once a month or so, and retain an archive of past webinars so that you can catch up on anything that sounds interesting.

It’s free to join, and sign-up is pretty run-of-the-mill. This is a great way to stay on top of some of the latest trends, and even connect with other teachers.

African American History and Heritage

As you may know, February is Black History Month. Hopefully, you’re finding ways to incorporate the accomplishments of African-Americans into your lessons, but if you need some help, check out the African American History and Heritage site. This site is currently School Library Journal’s site of the week– talk about just-in-time resources!

It may not be pretty, but it’s chock full of great resources: biographies, links to books and videos, and a Teacher Toolkit. The Toolkit contains links, lesson plans, and more, and is organized by discipline.

It’s pretty hard to navigate, and is so full of resources that it may be confusing, but if you’re willing to go exploring, you can find cool resources like the African American Inventors database.