In our efforts to teach sixth graders appropriate use and etiquette on the Internet, we launched our 3rd annual Grantbook project. Our computer lab coordinator, Ginny, thought this up ala-Facebook as a way for students to demonstrate their understanding of private versus personal information. We discuss the two categories of information, we work through an activity at Commonsense on the subject, then each student creates a Grantbook page. Eventually they learn how to embed a self portrait and later, comment on one another’s pages.
For today, I’m focusing on the agony of creating the pages.
My class has scheduled time in the computer lab on Tuesday from 11-12:00. The lab is available on Monday’s without Ginny and during any non-class times through the week. I decided to move forward with Grantbook during an open slot on Friday. That means I’m going solo–Ginny is handling maintenance and updates, not students. Got it. No problem. It’s not like I haven’t done this before…. (cue the doom and chaos music)
Over the summer I attended the PBworks summer camp. We use their platform throughout our school and I had learned through fits-and-starts the basics of a wiki. The summer camp really moved me forward into a more complete understanding and ability to manage, create and guide others. So, I took on the task of loading student log-ins. No problem. For all student log-ins at our school, we use standardized log-ins so that all students (and teachers) can remember them. And the information behind these log-ins is of little personal import (math curriculum, typing practice, etc.) that truly protecting them, isn’t reality. For this project though (and for our Kidblog work), I wanted the sixth graders to create their own passwords as a way of understanding the do’s and don’t of password creation. I did use a bit of a formula: first initial, last initial, 2 digits and a fruit or vegetable. With this formula, when a student forgets, I can recite the formula–viola! Memory restored.
So I loaded all user names and log-ins, gave the student appropriate folder permissions and away we went. Thirty-ish minutes of instruction, directions and modeling in-class, then our excited group walked down to the lab.
I modeled the process once more for creating a page. It’s as straightforward as it might seem since students only have access to one folder right now. Some tried to log-in to the school wiki rather than the student wiki, some couldn’t get their password straight, some forgot to use the template… remember the doom and chaos music… we’ve arrived.
To be clear: the activity and time in the lab was full of enthusiasm. Students had conversations around, “Can I say xyz?” and responses like, “Yes, it’s personal, not private.” Bravo sixth grade! Then more creative ideas, “What color should my hobbies be?” and “Is a summer camp an accomplishment or a hobby?”
Meanwhile, I was resembling a chicken with my head cut off. If I tried the log-in and password and it didn’t work, I figured I had done something wrong. Yep. Sara L. was really entered as Sara I. Chris was late with the permission slip, so he hadn’t been entered at all. After recreating accounts and figuring all was well… cue the music again. Those students didn’t have the correct folder permissions. More headless chicken action. Whew! We made it.
- Acquiring more skill means acquiring more responsibility
- Slow down Mrs. Haugen–we’re not going to repeat Friday ever again–breathe and think clearly
- Ginny rocks! She used to do all this loading students and setting folders.
- Grantbook is a great lesson and it’s worth the time, energy and (sometimes) frustration.