Spartan Innovation Exemplars: Taylor Halliday and Beth Bartels

Mrs. Bartels (standing) watches students coding Dance Parties on the Hour of Code website.

Liberty teachers Beth Bartels and Taylor Halliday fearlessly left their comfort zones to encourage students to explore computer logic during Lima City Schools’ Hour of Code celebration.

Bartels and Halliday run an Explorer group focused on careers at Liberty Arts Magnet. After they attended the Staff Hour of Code event in November, they realized that coding as a career would be an excellent program for their Explorers. The first stage of the meeting involved the students creating and “running” a live-action program using signs and a grid taped on the floor. With the help of LCS Technology Integration coach Jeannine Jordan, the students were introduced to programming loops and if/then statements in a giggle-filled simulation. Following that, the students and the teachers explored the Hour of Code site, trying a variety of programs.

Mrs. Halliday (far right) sampled the Hour of Code site too and compared notes with students about which exercises she found most challenging.

Both teachers use regularly use technology in their classrooms, especially Schoology. For example, paper and pencil reviews have become Schoology assignments in Halliday’s dance class, and Bartels’ drama classes often record performances for sharing and critique.

Mrs. Bartels, Mrs. Halliday and the students had a great afternoon exploring coding via the live-action game and the Hour of Code website. To see the options on the website, go to http://wordpress.limacityschools.org/hourofcode/– and if you are interested in trying the live-action game, contact Jeannine at jjordan@spartan.limacityschools.org for further info.

Spartan Innovation Exemplar: David Stein, LCS Orchestra Conductor

How can iPads improve my teaching? That’s the question many people in our district asked when they got a new iPad last year. For David Stein, having an iPad completely transformed how he directs Lima Senior’s orchestra.

Instead of carrying around pages and pages of musical scores, Stein directs from scores that he’s uploaded to his iPad. “First, I scan my scores and turn them into PDFs,” he explained, “then upload them to Google Drive.” From there, Google Drive integrates with a musical app that makes it simple to direct the orchestra from the iPad. He can quickly make notes on the score as well as turn pages with a brief touch of the screen.

Another perk of directing this way is that during performances, he has all his scores in performance order ready to go instead of having multiple scores to maneuver and page through.

“This is so much easier than anything I’ve tried before,” Stein claimed. “I wouldn’t want to go back to being surrounded by pages and pages of music!” 

Do you know someone who uses technology successfully in their classroom? Maybe someone who has figured out a way to simplify or improve a process by integrating technology–maybe even you? Let Jeannine know at jjordan@spartan.limacityschools.org to help us identify the next Spartan Innovation Exemplar!

The Password is…

Let’s be real: Should you reuse passwords? Of course not! Do you? Probably…I know I do. Should you share passwords with anyone else? Of course not, again! Do you? Well…I do.  And how do you keep track of your passwords? If you are like many people, in an insecure manner.
A crucial part of digital citizenship involves creating good passwords and keeping them safe. Are your passwords strong enough? Do you know how to keep your information secure? The website Bits from Bytes has information about creating good passwords as well as a tool for checking the strength of your current passwords. Check your passwords at https://bitsfrombytes.com/how-to-create-a-strong-password/
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is a credible source for all sorts of information about using technology responsibly. Their article “Making a Good Password” has helpful tips, too: https://privacyrights.org/resources/making-good-password

House Hippos Are Back–or are they? How to spot fake news

 Is fake news a real thing? And how can you tell if the information you find online is factual, accurate, and current? Media Smart’s “Break the Fake” offers humorous examples and clear guidelines and suggestions for learning to tell the difference. Go to Media Smart’s “Break the Fake” website at https://mediasmarts.ca/break-fake for more information. 
One of the tools featured on that website is a search engine that search fact-finding sites to help verify information. To fact check information, go to this site and type in the questionable info: https://cse.google.com/cse?cx=009843066196008418578:5c4h08rfa8q  Reputable sites such as Snopes, Factcheck.org, and Politifact offer a variety of related articles to help you determine whether the information is valid.
All Tech Considered  suggests these steps when you encounter questionable information online: Pay attention to the domain and URL (the site address); Read the “About Us” section of the site; Look at the quotes in a story;  Look at who said them; Check the comments; do a reverse image search. These steps are detailed in the article at https://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/12/05/503581220/fake-or-real-how-to-self-check-the-news-and-get-the-facts . Dr. Melissa Zimdars, a professor of communication at Merrimack College, has compiled an even more detailed list of tips here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10eA5-mCZLSS4MQY5QGb5ewC3VAL6pLkT53V_81ZyitM/edit?usp=sharing

Phishing Explained

“Don’t click on that link–it’s phishing!” Phishing (pronounced “fishing”) is when scammers attempt to trick you into giving them pieces of your personal information. With that info, they may be able to access your online accounts. Some phishing attempts look incredibly authentic, with logos and language that sound nearly identical to companies you usually use.

The Federal Trade Commission has an excellent website explaining phishing, how to recognize it, and what to do if it happens to you. Go to https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-recognize-and-avoid-phishing-scams to learn more.

 

Facebook’s Privacy Settings

Social media is a blessing and a curse–sometimes, simultaneously! The price we pay for staying in touch is a loss of privacy, and that is true in multiple ways, depending how philosophical a person is inclined to be.

You have more control than you might know you have, however. Understanding Facebook’s privacy settings determines who sees what and how much of your life can be accessible by your friends, family, or strangers.

Here are three points you need to understand before looking at Facebook’s privacy:

  1. If you have a Facebook account, you are how Facebook makes money. You are the product they sell to advertisers. You can’t change that, and you should realize that regardless how you set your privacy, Facebook knows what you’re posting. You can lock down your account so that very few people can see it, and make it so that specific people only access specific info, but Facebook still knows–and they keep extensive data. That’s the price of having social media.
  2. When Facebook updates its site, which includes the privacy settings, sometimes your privacy settings change in ways you don’t intend. Sometimes when they update, they set new or updated features to the most liberal privacy. That means that you need to check your settings once in a while–setting them once and leaving them alone after that is not a good idea.
  3. Best practices for Facebook privacy change, so make sure that any online tips or support you use is current. Look for a date that is as close to the current date as possible. Using Facebook’s online help is often enough, and it’s reasonable to assume their info is up to date, but be aware that sometimes, they have their interests more at heart than your interests–remember, YOU are their product, not their customer.

Note: These same warnings apply to other social media, like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and SnapChat. If you use those, you should learn how to set your security to a level you’re comfortable with, also.

Here’s a September 2019 article about Facebook privacy: https://www.consumerreports.org/privacy/facebook-privacy-settings/ 

Here’s the link to the official Help page about Facebook privacyhttps://www.facebook.com/help/325807937506242?ref=tos