Friday, September 28, 2007

Stop Cyberbullying!

Cyberbullying is considered the intentional harm of someone through the means of electronic communication. Almost all of our students know how communicate electronically by instant messaging, email, text messaging and social networking. This makes cyberbullying a problem in schools and school districts all around the world. According to a survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, about 1/3 of teens say they have experienced some form of cyberbullying. Bullying has always been in issue in schools, but cyberbullying is a little bit different. Technology today has given us the opportunity to stay connected with each other 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Unfortunately for those who are being cyberbullied, this means they do not get any safe haven away from the abuse or humiliation they feel. Nancy Willard of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use has written a very resourceful book about cyberbullying. She has also posted many resources for students, parents and educators about cyberbullying on her website. The resources are in PDF format and offer an explanation of what cyberbullying is, the types of cyberbullying that take place and strategies to help prevent it from happening.

I strongly suggest that you explore these materials so that we can teach students the effects that cyberbullies have on their victims and make the internet a safer place for everyone.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Plagiarism Education

As the new school year progresses, it is important to remember that you must cite your sources when writing an essay, research paper or PowerPoint presentation. Sometimes it can be difficult for students to understand why they have to do this. Copyright Kids is a website created to educate children about copyright law. It even includes a challenge quiz to test your knowledge on copyright issues. The site also includes a section for parents and teachers with links to educational materials to teach students about copyright law. Education World also publishes a student guide to avoiding plagiarism which gives students tips on how to correctly cite the information they use in their work.

For teachers, there is which has a wealth of information and resources about plagiarism, including FAQ’s, information about different types of plagiarism and handouts to give to students on how to avoid plagiarism. There are a lot of resources on this site!

Feel free to add comments on some other sites you use with your students!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Is Your Computer Protected?

For a lot of students and parents, the start of a new school year means that you are going to use the computer more and more. Students are using the internet to help with homework, perform research and communicate with others. Now is especially a good time to make sure that your computer is adequately protected from viruses, spyware and other malicious programs that can infect your computer and diminish its performance. A couple of tips:
  • Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date and is set to automatically download updates.
  • Make sure you have a firewall running while connected to the internet.
The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team has posted Cyber Security tips online to help describe and offer advice about common security issues. For example, there is a section on Understanding Anti-Virus Software as well as a section on Understanding Firewalls.

There are a lot of anti-virus programs out there to choose from and it important to make an informed decision about which software is best for you. has a section on reviewing anti-virus software, giving a description of each piece of software it tests and a rating. PC Magazine also has a review section on security software.

Remember, no security software is 100% successful at blocking attacks or detecting viruses, but keeping updated security software running on your computer will go a long way to keeping it safe!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Welcome Back to School!

Welcome back to all students, teachers and parents. I hope everyone had a great summer! The cyber safety mentors were hard at work all summer creating materials that can be used at home or in the classroom to educate students about internet safety. The 14 student interns involved in the summer program did an amazing job. They were trained in internet safety, they worked in teams to complete internet safety projects and they presented those projects to lots of important people around the community. Some of the materials they created were buttons, t-shirt designs, folders, computer wallpaper, an internet safety comic book, and an internet safety video starring the real life BPS Cyber Safety Heroes. They presented their work to the Massachusetts Attorney General's office and to representatives from Microsoft. Most of the materials will be available for download on the Boston Public Schools cyber safety website at The video should be ready for distribution sometime in the fall. We are hoping to spread cyber safety education into all of our schools throughout the year. If you have any questions on how your school can get involved, please contact Joe Kidd at BPS Cyber Safety Initiative

Have a cyber safe school year!