Parental Control

Good Listening

Listening Intently

The past three weeks I have been focusing on PARENTS as a part of my Course 5 COETAIL project.  My goal is to make our Responsible Use Policy more than just a document on our website and more than a document our students only review once per year, in homeroom on the first day of school.

First, I had an evening session with the parents. My Middle School Tech Leaders, who are a fantastic, articulate bunch of kids who struggle with technology some days, but truly embody our RUP and extend their learning (and life) with their digital devices, helped plan and lead the event.

Parent-Student Fishbowl

Parent-Student Fishbowl

In this first session, How Can We Foster Responsible Digital Citizenship, I shared what we are doing at school and reviewed the Responsible Use Policy that was developed under the lens of the IB Learner Profile.


Next, I shared the Balance Activities I did with my grade 7 & 8 students.  Parents were shocked and fascinated by the results.

photo 3 photo 5photo 4


But, I think the most powerful part of the night was the fishbowl activity.  I started with this quote from To Kill a Mockingbird:


Students started talking, some timidly at first, about how they struggle with technology, what they wished their parents understood about technology and how technology has made them better learners.

Seriously, they were amazing.

They were empowered by sharing their knowledge and opinions and the parents just sat there and listened.

Photo Credits: CATV

Photo Credits: CATV

Then, it was the parents turn.  They were as equally brave and honest in our mixed group setting.  One of the last moms who spoke started to cry, “I have failed my son.  I let him tell me he was finished with homework while he played video games and his grades dropped…”

That mom got a lot off her chest and I think it was great for everyone in the room to hear.  In the overall culture of our community, most people are stoic.  Some people voice their opinions, but rarely do we hear one of such frustration and sadness.  It was great for the other parents, students and teachers to hear.

I’m hoping the parents were thinking, “Wow, I’m not alone.”  I hope the kids were thinking “Wow, she really loves her son.  Our parents want what’s best for us, but they struggle too.”

It was touching, when I saw two moms walk up to this mom, who is fairly new to our community, and hand her their phone numbers on little ripped pieces of scratch paper from their purses. They told her they could empathize with her.  They both have sons a bit older than her son and they have gone through some rough patches, but in the end, their sons have gotten through it all (and are using their digital devices more responsibly).

We tied up the night with the “What Nows?”.

This week, while the middle school students are further north in Japan on the ski trip, I am offering Parent Tech University for parents.

Today was my first day of these parents sessions and it went well.  I was actually fairly anxious about the session.

I love teaching kids.  I know my students well.  It’s a bit harder teaching parents, especially when it comes to technology.  I am empathetic, and I hope they understand that, even though my children are much younger than theirs.

I want to help, but sometimes I don’t always agree with their strategies or philosophies on technology and expectations, so it’s challenging.  They are sometimes anxious and embarrassed about their tech knowledge and skills.  They don’t always freely ask questions like their inquiring children have been taught to do through the PYP and MYP programs.  But, in the end, I learned and they learned, and I feel it is opening up communication more and forging a more open relationship between parents and teachers.

My purpose for these sessions is to empower the parents.  I want them to feel more in control of their child’s tech use.  I really think the message I want to send to parents is to “Be Aware“.  I want them to know what their kids are doing.  I want them to set realistic boundaries and learn from their children.  I want my students and their parents to be able to talk about/share technology rather than argue about it.

Now, I need to reflect more about where I’m “going to go” with the parents.  I already have a meeting time in April  to speak with upcoming 6th grade parents about technology in the middle school.

Does anyone out there have regular tech sessions with their parents?  Is it monthly?  Do the topics follow the students’ curriculum?  Are the topics voted on/requested by parents?

Feedback is appreciated!

1620889_755443187800882_1800830535_n (1)This picture from the Parent Tech Night cracks me up.  We had a high school student from CATV – our student run media production group – take pictures.  I look crazed talking about our Responsible Use Policy.  And, of course, it was up on our school’s Facebook page within a day of the event.  I’m wondering what the parents who didn’t attend were thinking.  I wish I looked more passionate and a little less crazy:/



Responsible Use Policy through the Learner Profile: COETAIL Course 2 Final Project

For our final COETAIL Course Two Project, Katy, Ju, and I created a Responsible Use Policy that a three program IBO World school could use.


We first decided on structuring our RUP through the Learner Profile, as it is common language used at our schools and its attributes are ones we want our students to emulate.  Since  we want our students to embody these traits as a learner in our classrooms, we also feel that they need to consider these when making decisions about technology.  Click here for a better view.

Using the Learner Profile descriptors, we created essential technology agreements.  From there, we broke it down into PYP, MYP and DP student agreements.  We created these agreements to be appropriate for the students, both in practice and in language at the different program levels.  We kept the individual documents down to A4 sized as we felt that was important.  We also wanted to create a visual that we could use to share with the community as it’s more engaging than an A4 document.

What we focused on…

We considered a lot of the issues we see daily at our schools, and ones that may not be explicitly stated in many AUP/RUPs.  Some of the agreements that personally stand out to me from our RUP are:

I will regularly update the systems and security on my digital devices. (knowledgeable)

I will give attribution in the manner appropriate to the task and the creator’s wishes. (principled)

I will regularly reflect on and update my digital footprint, updating my online presence so it accurately represents who I am.  (reflective)

All the BALANCED statements really resonated with me as well:

  • I will balance how much technology I consume by creating products with technology.

  • I will experiment with a variety of technology tools. I will choose the most effective technology tools for the tasks at hand.

  • I will manage my time spent with technology, ensuring that it is a tool which complements but does not control my life.

I think this is because this is where I see a general weakness in many students.  I hear of them watching hours and hours of YouTube videos, I see them attached to their cellphones as soon as the bell rings.  As I reflect on this, I also realize that we can’t just rattle off this RUP to students the first week of school and consider it done.  We need to provide skills and strategies to help our students reach these agreements.

The Visual Piece…

We also created a presentation that could be used at the three program levels.  We thought that these presentations would be best used at a Back to School Night and also to students the first week of school.  While we tried to match strong Creative Commons visuals to our agreements, we realized that this was difficult and we weren’t able to show everything in images.  We created the structure of the presentation together then “Made a Copy” of that template to create separate documents for each program.

While I am a little weary of posting an “incomplete” presentation here, I truly believe it’s for good reason.  I decided after looking (semi-unsuccessfully) for images, that I would like to bring the skeleton of this presentation back to my Student Tech Leader group for them to find where this is happening in our school or to create images which represent these statements through screencasts, screenshots and photos.  I think that authentic media will make this presentation a lot more powerful since it will directly connect to our community and my students.  Since it will be “student-made” or at least student-enhanced, I think the Tech Leaders will take more ownership of the agreements and be better role models to the rest of the student body.

Here are the PYP and DP Presentations.

On sharing with my community…

First of all, the AUP at my school is up for review.  I’m going to propose they look at this RUP we created.  I think it’s a great piece for an IB school.  We want our students to embody the Learner Profile and their lives are so digital.  This document connects our technology with our beliefs and the IBO philosophy.

At my school, I have seen a recurring issue with our parent information/parent education sessions.  Many parents who attend these sessions are uncomfortable with technology and some do not have “technical English”. Sometimes I feel the overall message and is often “Lost in Translation”.  If my school will adopt this Responsible Use Policy, then I would like to again ask students, or my Japanese colleagues to help translate this document into Japanese (and even Korean) as I feel it’s an important document to share with our community.

On working with others…

I felt it was really important to have this experience.  Students are regularly asked to work in groups and it is challenging.  I luckily had amazing partners in this project and I’m not just saying this because there’s a good chance they’ll read this post.  We are all at the end of our school year, living on different continents with an eight hour time difference.  Google Docs was a great way for us to collaborate and start to share ideas and find our focus. It’s funny to find that balance of creating and revising at different times and not knowing each other or how the other would react or if we’d connect enough for us all to be happy with our final product. In the past week, we realized that that wasn’t enough.  We had to talk.  We attempted Google Hangout and Skype, but our connection didn’t allow us to communicate well.  We easily used the chat option in the document to fine tune and wordsmith our work.