Friday, July 27, 2007

TEACHBoston Program Promotes Internet Safety

16 high school students from the Boston Public Schools who are attending the TEACHBoston program have been trained in internet safety and are preparing to educate elementary school students on how to stay safe online.

The TEACHBoston Program is designed for rising BPS high school students who have an interest in exploring early childhood and elementary education. Students who are accepted to the summer academy are assigned as teaching assistants and mentors to summer school classes in the city of Boston. They also take classes and earn credit from Wheelock College. As part of their completion of the program, the students are required to create and deliver a lesson plan to their students. Wanda Speede, the director of the TEACHBoston program, felt that internet safety would be a great subject for them to teach to younger students. The TEACHBoston students completed a two day internet safety training and began working on their presentations to the students. Wanda Speede was impressed with the effort of her students and said, "The TeachBoston scholars could relate to the information they received about internet safety, and were enthusiastic about sharing this information in creative ways with the summer school students at the Trotter elementary school."

Students were placed into groups of four and given an internet safety topic to educate their students about. While all the groups did have to put together a PowerPoint presentation on their topic, they also got to be creative with their activities. One group was planning and rehearsing a cyberbullying skit, making their PowerPoint presentation look and sound exactly like and instant messaging exchange between students. They plan on showing students what to do if they encounter a cyber bully online. Another group was planning using a rap to teach the students about the importance of keeping their personal information online private and creating good passwords. They planned to have all the students rapping along with them.

Ms. Speede was pleased with how all of this related to the goals of the TEACHBoston program. "The 2007 TEACHBoston scholars were able to integrate the development and implementation of Internet Safety lesson plans into their exploration of the teaching profession. They offered students in summer school classes from grades 3 through 6, information, examples, and hands on activities as part of this exploration."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Internet Safety Comic Book

As the BPS Cyber Safety Mentors spend their summer hard at work creating internet safety materials I got to sit down with one of the teams to talk about their project. Team "Design Five" is comprised of Felix, Germaine, Chase, Lissette and their team leader, Alexandria. They are creating an internet safety comic book/safety manual for students as a classroom or home resource. "It is comic book about the Cyber Safetyheroes, an internet villian and a boy named Danny", Alexandria told me. "Each story also has internet safety activities for the kids at the end of them." The group decided to target children ages 6 to 11 when they were planning their project. They feel that this book will help educate students in a fun, interactive way. They also hope that students will use these materials in both school and at home.

Each member of the group has their own role, "But we also come back and work together" Lissette said. Felix, Chase and Germaine are the designers of the group and have been using Adobe Freehand to create the pictures for the comic. Specifically, Felix and Chase have been creating the frames for the book while Germaine has been working on character profiles. Alexandria and Lissette have been working on the internet safety manuals and activities that will be inserted with each story. They are also using a program called Comic Life to publish the final product. The entire team brainstormed the storylines together at the beginning of the project!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Cyber Mentors Hard at Work

The summer internet safety internship has begun for fourteen Boston Public School students! These fourteen students are completing their first week on the job which included some internet safety training, a group brainstorming of ideas and individual proposals of plans for internet safety materials to be created this summer.

The student interns are all now certified Cyber Safety Mentors through the iMENTOR program from iSAFE. Each mentor went through two days of internet safety training on topics such as cyber predators, cyber bullying, cyber security and intellectual property. After the training, the mentors held a group brainstorming session in which they shared their ideas about materials that can be created to educate younger students on the importance of internet safety. Each student then wrote an individual proposal about an internet safety product they would like to create this summer.

The students were then placed in groups based upon their proposals. Each group has to name a project manager and create a group proposal for their projects to be presented in front of deputy CIO Melissa Dodd and TechBoston Director Felicia Vargas. To help prepare them for their proposals, the Cyber Mentors will receive some presentation training at Bunker Hill Community College.

So far after only one week, the program is off to a fast start. The students are eager to bring their ideas to life and get to work. We will have updates on the projects they are working on and their progress throughout the summer.