Using YouTube as a Teacher’s Aid

YouTube app icon

I remember the day that I walked into an elementary art classroom and saw that the students were hard a work learning how to sculpt and manipulate clay. But the teacher was not at the front of the classroom leading the students in the lesson, rather it was a video from YouTube. While the “virtual” teacher continued with the lesson, the “real” was free to make the rounds in her classroom and provide students with 1-on-1 individualized support and direction.

YouTube continues to grow at an amazing pace with videos on a wide variety of topics. Common Sense Education has put together a list of their Top YouTube Channels to Boost Classroom Lessons that teachers could use both in and outside of the classroom.


In addition to their list, here are a couple of channels that I’ve used to support my Digital Citizenship lessons:

  • Brooke Gibbs – Author/speaker and authority on bullying in the schoolyard and workplace.
  • Bystander Revolution – Simple acts of kindness, courage, and inclusion anyone can use to take the power out of bullying.

And a couple more that cover a variety of topics:

A Parent’s Guide to AirDrop

What’s AirDrop and Why Are Kids Using It? – by Caroline Knorr

AirDrop icon from Apple iOS

AirDrop is a feature built-in to most Apple devices that allows users to easily transfer files from one device to another. I use these service all the time to quickly and easily transfer photos I’ve taken on my iPhone to my Apple laptop or even larger video files from the schools’ tripod-mounted iPad. However, with any file sharing service there is the potential for misuse and abuse. Being aware of the positive and negative uses is part of what it means to be a good digital citizen.

Common Sense Media has put together a parent’s guide to using AirDrop and the things to look out for when it comes to its use by kids. As a Digital Citizenship teacher, I am a firm advocate of educating students on the positive ways to use technology instead of denying them access. However there are situations where this action may be warranted and the article includes directions on how to “turn off” AirDrop on a kid’s device. For me personally, I have set up AirDrop so that I can use it but that only users who are listed in my Contacts can see my device.

AirDrop options from iPhone

You can also find information about how AirDrop works from this Apple Support article.

Safer Internet Day – Security Checkup

Internet Safer Day was last week on Tuesday, February 5th. To celebrate, Google spent the entire week covering a variety of topics relating to being safe online (you can check out their series of articles here). For users who have Google accounts, one thing that you can and should do on a regular basis is perform a Security Checkup on all of your Google accounts.

Google Security Checkup homepage

Google’s Security Checkup is a three-step process where you will be asked to check on three important areas of your account safety:

Options menu for each app, site, and service that has access to your account info.
  • Third-party access: This is the list of sites, apps, and services that have access to some of the personal information found in your account. Sources that you haven’t used in a while may no longer need access and can be removed, and if you see an entry you don’t recognize or don’t remember giving permission to access your account should most definitely have their access revoked.
  • Your devices: This is the list of all of the devices that have been used to login to your Google account. If you don’t recognize a device, then it might be a good idea to remove the device from the list and then consider changing your password. (Click here to see how to use Gmail to force a sign-out of all of your active web sessions.)
  • Recent security events: This drop-down list will show any recent requests to connect to your account. Again, if you don’t recognize a request then your account may be at risk.
Google Security Checkup - recent security events list

It is a good idea to perform a Security Checkup on your Google account about once a month, and if you have more than one account (e.g. a professional account for work and a personal account) then don’t forget to run the Security Checkup on each one. For other web accounts, it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the security options that they provide:

Parents’ Ultimate Guide to “Fortnite”

It is a frenzy that shows no sign of slowing down. Many of my students are not only swept up in playing the game “Fortnite” but are also watching video after video of others playing the game. While some of these games can involve intense strategic planning and a sense of teamwork as players work together toward a common goal, they are also places where screen time can get out of control, excessive violence encouraged, and cyberbullying run rampant.

Both teachers and parents need to make the effort to at least be aware of the games that our students and children are engaging in, so that we can help them to recognize their positive contributions to learning and caution them about their potential dangers and pitfalls. Common Sense Media has put together a nice resource about the game Fortnite and, while their target audience is parents, teachers can benefit from this awareness too.

Watch the short video below, then follow this link to their website for more in-depth information including different versions of the game, game vocabulary, and some of its other social features.

Developing a Healthy Media Diet

Social media is an ever-present part of our lives, and even more so for our students and children. As a result, teachers and parents need to take the time to investigate strategies on how to balance the consumption of social media with the other aspects of our lives. Common Sense Media as put together 5 Simple Steps to help you, your students, and your children achieve this balance.

Follow this link to access the full article from the Common Sense Media website.

If you’d like to learn more, then use this link to access additional videos relating to this topic including Common Sense Media’s #DeviceFreeDinner series.

Spotting Fake News Using Your Citation Skills

fake-1903823_640.jpgBack in December I shared a post on How to Spot Fake News, citing an article from Common Sense Media as a good read for this topic. The timing of this was a handy coincidence as I was in the process of teaching my 5th graders about plagiarism and finding trustworthy sources. Fast-forward to February, a new semester, and a new group of 6th graders to teach. As I get ready to teach my lesson on Copyright, Creative Commons and Citations, yet another article has surfaced connecting the process of citing the source with being able to spot fake news.

In an article from EasyBib on 10 Ways to Spot a Fake News Article, author Michele Kirschenbaum entertains the idea that the credibility of a news article can be determined in part by the ease with which we can build a proper citation for it. The success or failure to answer the questions that Kirschenbaum lists can give us an idea of how trustworthy the source may be. For example, if the article includes citations and references to where it got its facts from then that’s a good sign. However, if you have to hunt to identify who the author of the article is then this could be a red flag.

Constructing a proper citation from online sources is not always easy, even when you employ citation tools such as EasyBib, Citation Machine, or the Explore Tool inside of Google Docs. However, if a source is proving to be particularly difficult to cite then that might be a sign that its credibility should be questioned and that more scrutiny of the source be undertaken before you incorporate any of its information into your own research.

How to Spot Fake News

newspaper-151438_640In today’s world where many people rely on social media just as much, if not more, for their daily dose of news it is becoming essential that we know how to tell the difference between ‘real’ news stories and ‘fake’ ones. With the hand-held technologies we have today news stories of every kind can easily be posted and shared, spreading like digital wildfire. As a result, it is our responsibility to educate our students as they grow up in this environment on how to find the truth among all of the opinions, biases, and all out fake information that’s out there. But, where do we begin?

Check out this article from Common Sense Media on How to Spot Fake News (and Teach Kids to Be Media-Savvy). In this article, author Sierra Filucci discusses how to look at news stories critically and ask questions to help determine their validity. These questions can also be applied to research skills when using online sources. Too often, when my 5th grade students research something online for me and I ask them, “What’s your source?” they often answer with: “Google.” I feel like they’re not taking the time to verify who is giving them the answer. So that is why we are taking the time to really focus on taking those old “W” questions (Who?, When?, Where?, etc.) and applying them to our online research, as well as developing a list of trusted primary sources who we can go to first with our questions.