Eisenhower School Internet Safety Project

The Eisenhower School Internet Safety Project began with Tech Team teachers, Angelo Bonavitacola, Marc DeBlock and Harold Olejarz, joining forces to develop a sixth-grade Internet course to address these issues and to encourage students to be active learners by using the latest technology to learn about the latest technologies. To produce the videos, the students view online videos, visit web sites and discuss Internet safety topics. The students begin by developing a storyboard in ComicLife, a MAC OS program designed to create comics. Students then use digital cameras to capture images that are added to their comics. When the comics are completed the pages are exported to iMovie. In iMovie the students add voice-overs, sound effects, titles and transitions to complete the Internet Safety project.

Many of the student videos have been or will be shown on ETV, Eisenhower’s morning TV show. ETV is broadcast to the entire school and the town of Wyckoff, NJ. In addition, the videos are posted on a resource web page that includes links to sites with information and other videos on Internet safety. This Internet Safety web site was also used in a presentation to seventh-grade parents. During the presentation it was suggested that parents watch the videos with their students and use the experience to begin a dialog on the issues raised in the videos. (via LearniT-TeachiT)

This is a great example of the “technology ecology” that I’ve been talking about. Sure the students could have learned to make cartoons in Comic Life or how to use iMovie. They could have gotten lessons on Internet Safety. Parents could have been invited in to hear a lecture from an expert on cybersafety.

But instead, all these came together in a way that is greater than sum of the individual parts. They used an authentic problem to build internal capacity and learn how to learn.

In this school, students learned about Internet Safety AND how to communicate it to others, reinforcing the lessons and making them more relevant. They learned to use a technology tool for an authentic purpose – to teach others and engage the whole community in the complex issues of Internet safety. They learned that they have the power to learn new things and transform their community. They learned that their voice is important and that their parents and community will listen to them if they know their stuff.

Way to go Eisenhower!


Teenagers lead lessons in technology

Student teaching technology lessonKen Schaffer recently bought a professional-quality camera. The Ellicott City business owner and amateur photographer wanted to learn the computer program Photoshop so he could play around with his pictures. That is why he spent a recent Thursday at Marriotts Ridge High School – where his daughter is a ninth-grader – doctoring a photo of Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Schaffer followed along as two Marriotts Ridge students, juniors Patrick Talcott and Thomas Conchie, guided him through drawing a dotted line around Gates’ head, then dragging the head off Gates’ body. Five other students practiced with Photoshop techniques. One was working on a buck-toothed Bill Gates. Another gave Gates a mustache and goatee.

They were at the high school for Technology Thursdays. These after-school classes feature high school students teaching courses in Photoshop, game design, Web design and popular programs like MS Office. The classes are free and open to Marriotts Ridge students and community residents like Schaffer.

This article from the Baltimore Sun – Teenagers lead lessons in technology: Students become the teachers at after-school program profiles Marriotts Ridge High School in Marriottsville, MD. Run by teacher Reg Hahne, students at the high school plan lessons and then teach technology to students and community members.

“It’s a neat opportunity to have our students, our staff and the greater community working together,” said Pat Saunderson, Marriotts Ridge principal. “Some afternoons, I’ll walk down the halls and see our students giving workshops for middle-schoolers through senior citizens. It’s just impressive that our students are able to take on that leadership role.”

Why is this idea so rare? Students have so much to offer, and schools and communities have so much to gain if we just let students take on authentic tasks and projects. One teacher with a vision of students as competent, responsible contributors has changed a whole community for the better. Students can’t learn to be leaders, teachers, and citizens in a vacuum. We must seize every opportunity to break down the walls that segregate students from the real world, both through virtual networks and local collaborations. Teaching students these skills benefits everyone.

Technology just happens to be in that magic sweet spot of youth interest and ownership, perfectly matched with the needs of schools and communities to integrate technology use. It’s time to stop thinking that the only way technology will make its way into school is for teachers to learn it first, then hope it trickles into the classroom. We must look at other options, other combinations, and experiment with every available avenue.

Congratulations to the students, teachers, and administrators in Marriottsville, MD for getting the recognition you deserve!