Month: April 2016

Food for Thought Friday: Children’s Dangerous Internet Use

On April 4, the Center for Cyber and Safety Education released the results of a study it conducted with 342 parents and students in 4-8th grades. The research sought to identify the children’s use of the Internet and their level of online safety. The good news is that almost all of the children acknowledged that parents and schools are teaching them about Internet safety.   However, the children were still engaging in dangerous online behaviors.

Here are some of the findings:


  1. Parents were unaware of how late children were online (often at midnight or later on a school night and after 1 AM on weekends).
  2. Most parents did not frequently monitor their children’s activity on social media sites, including Facebook and Instagram.
  3. Ten percent of the students have come to school late because they were tired from late night Internet use or some were even absent from school (5%) because of it.
  4. On average, children were online over 4 hours a day on weekends and over 2 hours a day on school days beyond doing homework or other schoolwork.
  5. Almost all of the children said that they used the Internet without parents watching them.
  6. About three in ten students acknowledged that they use the Internet in ways their parents would not approve.  This was particularly true (four in ten) for older students.  These activities primarily included
    • lying about their age to get onto an adult website (31%)
    • listening to or downloading music with adult content (31%)
    • watching programs or movies online meant for adults (21%)
    • searching the Internet for topics meant for adults (20%)
    • using a webcam or Facetime to chat with a stranger (15%).
  7.  Four out of ten children say they have connected with strangers online.  Over half doing so tell the stranger they are older than they are or even are an adult.  The online interaction with a stranger sometimes progressed to texting or voice conversation by phone.
  8. Some children reported giving out sensitive information like their phone number or home address.  Other dangerous online activities included
    • meeting in person with a stranger they connected with online (4%)
    • posting photos of themselves online or in a text message that parents would find inappropriate (8%)
    • purchasing something online with a credit card without parental permission (6%).

Interestingly, there are few differences by gender in how children use the Internet.

Although the sample size of this study is not large enough to generalize, the findings from this research raise questions that should provoke some good conversations.


Still Don’t Get the Edcamp Model?

by Kristie Burk

I know – if you’ve never participated in one before, the Edcamp model can seem a little weird.  No keynote speaker? No agenda? No presentations?  How does this work!?

You may be wondering what your role as an attendee might be if no one is actually running the show – or why you might want to come.

If so, check out this awesome 2-minute video for a quiz overview.  When you’re done, don’t forget to register for Edcamp Downingtown here and bring your friends!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Go into Kahoot’s Team Mode

kahoot team

by Kristie Burk

I know that many teachers (and administrators) in the Downingtown Area School District love to use Kahoot.

Great news!   Kahoot recently released a new feature that allows the game to be played in “team mode.”

The team first enters a team name and the names of all the team members. The team members then collaborate with each other as they play the Kahoot, entering one answer for the whole team.

There are a lot of great things about team mode.  First, it encourages collaboration among the students. Second, it takes away some of the “pressure” for students who don’t like their individual names on the screen. And lastly, team mode is great when teachers do not have a device for every student.

Special thanks to Michelle Nass, Librarian at Downingtown West High School, for telling me about Kahoot’s new team mode.  If you have something that you’d like to share, write a comment below or send a message to

Food for Thought Friday: How Technology Creates Opportunities for All

by Kristie Burk

Today, I wanted to share an awesome story from one of our teachers.Christine DiGiovanni is a science teacher at the Marsh Creek Sixth Grade Center and is also a member of a fantastic team of middle school teachers who have been working with me this year on blending their classes (more on that later).

She wanted to share one of the ways that technology is helping to create opportunities for all of her students. She has received permission from this student and his parents to share this story and his work.

DiGiovanni gave the students a choice to show their learning about a science lesson through several different paths.  “Choice over path” is one of the hallmarks of blended learning. She told the students that if they had an idea that wasn’t on the list to come see her for approval.  One of her students with autism came to see her.

A is a student who rarely speaks in class.  He came to me and requested to use the “Stop Motion” app to create his project, which I approved.  A’s product was above and beyond the requirements.  He took over 1,000 pictures to create his amazing project, but, more importantly, he volunteered to present it to the entire class.

“Not only did he share this, but he actually commented on the video throughout his presentation to point out his favorite parts to his classmates.  It was a side of A that we had never seen before.  Giving him [an iPad] and a choice with his path [through blended  learning] gave him the confidence to do it.

“He was so proud –as was I –of what he had created that it gave him the courage to overcome one of his greatest challenges – interacting with his peers appropriately.”

-Christine DiGiovanni

When you watch this, just consider the amount of time and effort that it took to create this awesome video.  I bet that he won’t soon forget what he learned about Pangaea!

Technology and blended learning help to create opportunities for all students to demonstrate their learning.  Do you have an inspirational story? Let us know at or comment below.

Have an awesome weekend!




How to Make Your Phone Emergency-ready

phone pic.pngby Kristie Burk

This past Tuesday, the Central Administration Office met with Chester County first responders to do a crisis simulation.  The session was extremely informative.  One important reminder from a first responder was to remember to identify emergency contact information on your phone.

There are a few thing that you can do on your Smartphone to make it easier for first responders in an emergency. First, label one (or more) of your contacts with “ICE” in the front.  For example, my husband is in my contacts as “ICE – spouse.”  If someone finds my phone in an emergency, they will know whom to contact.

However, what happens if, like me, your phone is password-protected?

There are many ICE apps for the iPhone, Android or Windows phones that will allow rescuers or doctors to get emergency information from your phone even if it’s locked. You can find these apps with a quick search in the app store.

If you have an iPhone, you can also set up your emergency medical ID.  (Thank you to Kevin Parks in our technology department for showing me this one!)  Here are the steps:

  1. Swipe down on your iPhone and search for the “Health” app.  Apple installed this app and it cannot be deleted.
  2. Click on the “Medical ID *” icon at the bottom of your phone.
  3. If you click “edit,” you can enter any information that may be needed by a rescuer, including medical conditions, allergies, medications, medical notes, blood type, weight, height, etc. You can also add emergency contact numbers here.
  4. Make sure you have the emergency access at the top set to “show when locked” if you lock your phone with a password.

What’s great about this app is that it can be accessed even while your phone is locked.  To verify, click your phone off.  Slide to unlock the phone, but do not enter your passcode.  Notice the “emergency” link at the bottom of the phone.  Clicking on this link and then clicking on “medical ID” will allow any person to find your medical information and/or emergency contacts quickly.

One word of warning: This information can also be available to anyone who might steal your phone, so think twice about what information you want to make readily available.

Finally, I read about a pretty cool “hack” that would work on any Smartphone.  If you take a picture of whatever emergency information you want, you can set the picture as the wallpaper on your phone.  Then, the information is available even if your phone is locked. Clever, huh?

Be safe out there…


Website Wednesday: Google Cultural Institute Brings Art Up Close

by Kristie Burk

When I was a student at Providence College, all undergraduates had to take four semesters of a course called “The Development of Western Civilization.” It was team-taught by professors of literature, history, philosophy, science, theology, music and art history who took an interdisciplinary approach to teaching way before it was “cool” to do so.

Through that class, I was encouraged to look at art and music as a reflection of the history of the time.  (Sidebar: I will never forget one of my exam questions that asked me to describe how the architecture of the Middle Ages reflected what was happening politically at the time. That one still hurts.)

If you are an art or music teacher or if you want to try to give your students a similar experience of incorporating the arts into your content area, check out the Google Cultural Institute.  The website was designed to provide millions of artifacts in a virtual museum as well as live performances of opera, dance, theater and performance art. And before you send me an email – I know that nothing can beat the experience of seeing art up close.  However, this website offers some great features:

  • One of my favorite features of the site is the ability to zoom in thisclose to the artwork to see the details.  Try doing that in the Guggenheim!
  • My second favorite feature is the ability to create your own “collections.” This could be extremely useful for teachers who want to show artwork that is currently housed in different museums.  Students can also make their own collections based on a theme  or a time period, for example.
  • You can tour parts of the museum that may have previously been unavailable.
  • A newer feature of the Google Cultural Institute is the ability to watch live performances. You can join musical performances from Carnegie Hall or watch a production from the American Ballet Theatre – and it’s all in 360 degrees!
  • Because the site is from Google, there are amazing features to help you search by museum, by geographic location, by artist, and more.

Tech Tip Tuesday: Charge your iPads more Quickly

by Kristie Burk

These are two fairly basic tips, but many of our students still don’t know them.  iPads (and iPhones) sometimes take a long time to charge.  To charge your devices faster, try these two tips:

  1.  Put the device in airplane mode.  You can do this by swiping up from the bottom of the screen and then clicking on the airplane icon. Airplane mode turns off both the wifi and cellular connections. This means you will no longer be able to make or receive texts/calls or browse the Internet, BUT you will be able to charge your device more quickly.
  2. Use your device’s adapter with the charger to plug it in. You can charge your device by plugging it into the USB port on a laptop, but the device will charge much more slowly since it’s sharing the power with the laptop. One exception: My husband installed one of those cool electrical sockets with USB ports in our kitchen to free up the receptacles for…well, the toaster.

Happy Tuesday!