Don’t cruise the internet without “CyberPilot’s License”

Need a starting point to teach students or teachers about the internet? Check out the CyberPilot’s License site. Like driver’s education, this site addresses not only the skills necessary to operate internet machinery, but also the attitudes and behaviors that promote healthy internet surfing. CyberPilot’s License is dedicated to boosting web ethics and developing healthy online environments. Participants learn to use search engines and discussion forums without harming themselves or others. This site explores the technology and terminology of cyberspace as well as the moral and ethical issues surrounding web surfing. Educators can adapt the program to suit their needs. The CyberPilot’s License program is a proactive approach to reducing web-induced anxiety. It also serves as an interactive meeting place for students, educators, and parents to discuss web ethics.


Check out this toolkit for school librarians

No other technology in history has provided as much information as easily as the internet. Librarians have always guided students to good books, and now they must guide students to quality web sites. But how do librarians find and evaluate quality internet sites? How do they protect children from entering offensive sites? The American Library Association (ALA) provides a useful set of guidelines that ensure the best use of the internet in libraries as it becomes more widely accessible. The Libraries and the Internet Toolkit, available as a PDF download, provides essential information for integrating the internet as a library resource for children. It discusses the debate about filters and provides advice for creating an internet policy, characteristics of a good web site, and a list of helpful resources. The document serves as an excellent basis for building an internet strategy for your school libraries.


For technology reviews, nothing beats “Street Tech”

You can get insightful reviews of everything technical—from keyboards to digital cameras to joysticks—at Street Tech. Intended to avoid the “hype and boosterism” surrounding many tech products, Street Tech reviews are honest, to-the-point, and based on personal experiences. The reviews come complete with a suggested retail price, contact information, and a product rating of up to five batteries. Past reviews are archived on the site by subject. Visitors to Street Tech will also find periodic instructions on do-it-yourself projects, upgrades, and maintenance for computer hardware and electronics. Besides reviews and how-tos, the site has a real-time chat area that allows users to share their experiences and information about the latest high-tech news, computer hardware, consumer electronics, and cool tools. The conferencing area includes daily technology news and reports. Street Tech also keeps participants up to date on the latest books, catalogs, and web sites related to digital technology and do-it-yourself hardware and maintenance. In addition, visitors can learn the meaning of technical terms, such as “jabber control,” by reading the “term of the day” feature.


“CongressLink” connects students with civic understanding

Developed by the Dirksen Congressional Center, CongressLink is a service for teachers and students of government, civics, and history, and is “committed to exploring new ways to learn about Congress, how it works, its Constitutional underpinnings, its leaders and members, and the public policy it produces.” The site is an online laboratory designed to incorporate technology into the study of Congress, the Constitution, and how they work together. Students can use the site to gain an understanding of how government works, its capabilities and limitations, and the role that informed citizens play in its deliberations. Current events are used to engage students in problem-solving and decision-making activities. Educators can access instructional resources that include a lesson plan library, an annotated version of the Constitution with hyperlinks, and related web sites that have been carefully chosen for their educational value. Both teachers and students can collaborate through online conferences and eMail exchanges.


This test prepreparation site passes our exam

The Oswego City School District in New York created this New York State High School Regents Exam Prep Center, a comprehensive study guide on all subjects for use at the high school level. Students wishing to brush up an a wide variety of subjects have a complete, easy-to-use resource at their fingertips. The review site provides background information, lessons, quizzes, and explanations for a multitude of topics in mathematics, global history, U.S. history and government, earth science, biology, and chemistry. The site also provides its users with a virtual library of educational links, a study guide page to help kids start off in the right direction with their review, and a database of old New York State Regents exams to use as study references. The site was developed by a team of Oswego County teachers to help their students meet the state Regents standards and is supported by a federal Title III Technology Literacy Challenge Fund grant.


Learn—and have fun—at “” is a completely internet-based interactive learning environment, designed to be something of a “huge online learning amusement park.” This beautifully designed, eye-catching site is filled with fun, educational games for kids from pre-kindergarten to sixth grade. Users can choose a grade level and get a list of games designed to improve their learning skills and proficiency in many different subjects. For example, pre-kindergartners can discover numbers and the alphabet through interactive games like Alphabet Action, where kids click on a letter and hear it pronounced, accompanied by a moving animation of an object beginning with that letter. Students in grades 1-3 can try more advanced activities with games like Spacey Math, in which kids avoid being shot down by space ships by answering math questions as quickly as they can. also features a Parents (or teachers) page, where adults can go to get ideas for activities to accompany the online learning.


Michigan House passes locker search bill

School administrators in Michigan who conduct random locker searches would be backed by state law under a bill that passed the House of Representatives Feb. 3.

The legislation says students should not expect privacy in school lockers and that school administrators have the right to search the contents for items that are illegal or against school policy.

Although many schools already conduct random locker searches, the bill’s supporters say a state law is needed to clarify that they are legal.

“What you’ve got are a number of districts that are curious what the parameters really are when it comes to locker searches,” said House Speaker Chuck Perricone, R-Kalamazoo Township. “They’ve been calling for clarification for a number of years.”

Opponents say the bill, which passed the House 90-13, is not needed and invades students’ privacy.

“Let’s remember that most of our kids do the right thing most of the time,” said Rep. John Hansen, D-Dexter, who voted for the bill after amending it to say that students are allowed to have items in their lockers that are neither illegal nor against school policy. “If we want them to trust us, we have to trust them.”

The bill would require all school districts that have lockers to draft a policy on searches and give a copy to all students and parents. School principals or their designees could then search a locker at any time in accordance with the policy.

The locker search measure is House Bill 5233. At press time, the bill was headed to the state Senate for consideration. n


County pulls voting booths out of schools, citing safety concerns

A county in southwestern Colorado is moving polling places out of public schools, in part because of safety concerns since the Columbine High School massacre.

Officials in Montezuma County worried about allowing unsupervised adults into schools to vote, said Deputy County Clerk Carol Tullis.

“What with all the issues of school safety, we decided to pull the precinct polling places out,” she said.

In February, police detained three teens outside Ignacio High School, 55 miles east of Cortez, after discovering several guns, one of them loaded, in their vehicle. The youths said they had the guns for protection and had no intention of attacking the school.

At Columbine, two teen-agers killed 12 students and a teacher before committing suicide last April.

The Columbine school district, in Jefferson County, has no plans to end voting at schools but was considering increasing security at school polling sites for the March 10 presidential primary, said district spokesman Rick Kaufman.

Ed Arcuri, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s elections division, said he wasn’t aware of any moves elsewhere in Colorado to move voting booths out of schools.


Newslines— New Mexico looks at safe ways to control pests

The New Mexico Department of Education wants schools to be more environmentally friendly in getting rid of pesky pests.

The department is proposing regulations that would require schools to apply chemical pesticides only when a problem exists. That would end periodic preventive spraying. The agency also is proposing that parents and staff members be notified at least two days in advance of spraying.

Supporters say the goal is to encourage cleanliness, and to close paths that pests use to get into a building. But critics contend some portions of the rules are overzealous and show a lack of understanding of modern pest-control methods.

Reports on injuries to children from exposure to pesticides “are fairly conclusive,” said John McPhee, childhood injury prevention coordinator for the state Department of Health.

“From a childhood injury standpoint, it is the same as a child riding a bicycle without a helmet,” he said. “They may sustain an injury from overexposure that may be permanent.”

McPhee said children and infants are more likely than adults to be injured by exposure to pesticides, and the proposed regulations are common-sense preventive measures.

The state Department of Agriculture, pest control companies, and some school officials question whether the rules will let schools effectively control pests, such as cockroaches, ants, and termites.

The rules could prevent treating buildings for termites during construction, for example, said Bruce Carter, president of the New Mexico Pest Management Association.

Groups that back the regulations don’t understand modern methods of pest control, said Carter, owner of Carter Services, a pest control company in Farmington.

The Albuquerque School District, the largest in the state, is working to reduce chemical use by regular inspections and humane traps to catch animal pests, said Fred Montano, supervisor for building services. The district uses foam in cracks and other methods to keep pests from getting inside buildings, Montano said.

“A major part of it is going to be cleanliness, get rid of the crumbs and dispose of all the food particles,” he said. “If we contain that, we are doing a good job.”


Arizona House weakens bill on gun safety

A toned-down bill given tentative approval by the Arizona House of Representatives would require that Arizona’s younger students be reminded at least once a year to leave guns alone.

The bill (HB 2225), which originally would have required firearms safety training in all schools, was amended Feb. 15 to keep safety programs as electives for grades 7 through 12.

Elementary schools would have to provide safety training such as the National Rifle Association’s Eddy the Eagle program, which tells kids who find a weapon to “stop, don’t touch, leave the area, and tell an adult.”

Representatives approved the measure while meeting as a committee of the whole House on a voice vote. At press time, the bill was awaiting a final floor vote in the House before heading to the Senate for consideration.

“This is very simple,” said Rep. Linda Gray, R-Glendale. “Children that age have no business handling a gun.”

The House rejected an amendment by Rep. Ken Cheuvront, D-Phoenix, that would promoted promote abstinence regarding the use of guns as the state does in sexual education.

Rep. John Loredo, D-Phoenix, called the programs “an easy sell for guns to kids” and argued that talking to kids about firearms is a job parents should be doing already.