10 ways schools are teaching internet safety

7. Through self-created curriculum

“Being of the same generation as my students (for whatever that’s worth) meant that I saw the digital world through a similar lens, rather than taking the traditional method of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ that many of my older colleagues preferred, or at least defaulted to. I have spent the past couple of years attempting to aggregate and curate some of the best resources I could find to develop my own method of presenting internet safety/digital citizenship to a group of students that are already, at the age of 13-14, heavily invested in the digital realm. The resulting product(s) have changed so quickly that I have literally revamped and reconstructed everything with each new semester-long class. We dig deeply into the ideas of privacy, permanence (is anything ever really deleted online?), and being considerate of others. Truthfully, my lessons on digital citizenship and online safety more strongly resemble character lessons than nerdy/geeky tech lessons. Interestingly, this ‘hot topic’ is in high demand as educators everywhere begin to realize how truly important this issue is, and it’s one that we can’t afford to get wrong. As the statistics of cyber bullying, sexting, scandals, predators, and privacy invasions continue to rise, we realize just how vital it is for us to address these issues and coach our students through the Wild West of the internet. I have presented to other educators and business professionals regarding this topic. If you would like, feel free to view, use, and share my presentation as it helps this cause. I am passionate about evangelizing this topic and feel very strongly about its message and necessity.” —Greg Garner, eighth grade technology teacher, Texas

“I work for a BOCES (Board of Cooperative Extension Services) that supports 23 districts in upstate New York. I have read extensively about internet safety, bullying, cyber bullying, digital citizenship, and other related topics. After collecting resources and data almost daily, I have developed several different programs that I offer to districts through our BOCES to component districts and beyond. When a district requests these services, I ask what issue(s) there are in the district, and I tailor the program to their needs. Each district has its own issues, and I update the program almost daily as new facts, statistics, and thoughts about internet safety and everything in that realm change. My resources are from other educators, developed programs currently in use (NetSmartz, CyberBee, athinline.org to name a few), with some recent articles and information about social media as it becomes available. I also offer this information to adults as well as students, as they also need to be aware of their safety.” —Kelly Schermerhorn, Questar III-Model Schools, Office of School Improvement, Castleton, N.Y.

Meris Stansbury

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