Thursday, 5 June 2014

Is Your Daughter Building a Positive Digital Footprint?

I have been very absent from writing this blog and as I sat down to compose an email to the parents of my Year 9 class, it dawned on me that the conversation was probably applicable to all our parents. As parents it is very easy for all of us to be concerned and even fearful of the negative consequences to our children's use of social media and other online web tools. What is not so difficult to imagine are the positive consequences purposefully developing a digital footprint can have, as for many of us it is outside our realm of experience. So let's change that...this video is great and includes some information that opened our eyes when we found it.

Both the teaching and iCentre staff repeatedly stress the importance of developing a POSITIVE digital footprint ... An important disclaimer here - your younger daughter in Year 8 or 9 will be MUCH better at having a conversation about their digital footprint than your older daughter for a number of reasons:
  1. ReTech - Students in Year 8 and 9 have had the benefit of our ReTech course in which this is part of the curriculum we study.  Students in older grades will have also been exposed to these conversations but in a less systemised way (so it may not have moved into the easy to retrieve part of her knowledge)
  2. Students in Year 8 do better on cyber safety tests than students in Year 12 (yes, is a gross generalisation). Why? Year 8s are more risk averse, have been well trained in stranger danger by their primary school teachers, tend not to push boundaries and have not yet succumbed to adolescence and "shock value" tactics when talking to their parents and teachers.
Having said that, here are some discussion points for that talk with your daughter about her digital footprint...

Profile Picture

Does your daughter use an avatar or a photo of herself? We teach students to create an avatar, especially in the younger years as it gives students a buffer zone in which to learn. If you would like to create one for yourself you can do it for free at face your manga as well as many other sites. As students progress to the senior years, many change their profile picture to a photograph. However, as we know there are photographs that will help you get a job and photographs that won't. Hopefully, your daughter is showing her beautiful face and not a downwards selfie that shows more than is desirable and undermines the positive digital footprint.   

Online Name

There is nothing wrong (except for certain legal situations) with using your real name online when you are trying to purposefully build a positive digital footprint. In ReTech we encourage students to use their student code or an online name that does not directly identify them either personally or as a student at the College - again as a learning zone buffer.  As students move into the higher grades, careful consideration needs to be given to the purpose of the online communication to decide whether or not to use their real name or a screen name.

Publishing Online

Again, publishing online is a great way to build your digital footprint and students are always encouraged to:

  • proofread their work before posting
  • have someone else proofread their work (like a parent or older sibling)
  • use images that they are allowed to use and to attribute them
  • sharing their best work, work they have put effort into creating
Doing these simple things goes a long way towards making the digital footprint positive.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Securing Your Facebook Account in Six Steps

As you are aware, we teach your daughter to consider her digital footprint and to actively create one that is thoughtful, insightful, highlights her strengths and sends a positive message about her character. An important distinction needs to be made about the difference between a purposefully created digital footprint that is designed for others to see and our personal, private information that is not.  Too often, many fail to properly secure their private information and consider what could happen if it was in the wrong hands, especially when using social media.  

Dennis O'Reilly posted a great article on CNet last month about six easy steps to securing your Facebook account. The importance of doing this yourself and encouraging your daughter to protect her privacy is crucial in an age where prospective employers will screen your daughter before ever granting her an interview.

Step One: See Your Profile as Others See It

Do you know what others see when they access your Facebook page? Why not find out:

  • Click the wheel in the upper right
  • Select Privacy
  • Select Timeline and Tagging
  • Click on View As on the right of "Who can view things on my timeline?"
  • Change your settings if you don't like what people can see about you.

Step Two:  Limit Who can add Content to your Timeline and Add Tags

Before you move away make sure you have limited access to who can add things to your timeline, whether you want to review posts in the "Who can add things to my timeline" section. Then check your tags in the "How can I manage tags people add and tagging suggestions" to make sure you can review tags, limit tag suggestions that may look like you and limit the audience for a post you are tagged in. 

Step Three: Make Sure You are Browsing Securely

Are you using secure browsing? Check by clicking on Security on the left and checking it is enabled (it should be by default but check anyway)

Step Four: Limit Access to You and Your Facebook Stuff

Limit who can view your future posts by clicking on Privacy on the left and ensuring that settings are for your friends. The same can be done with past posts by limiting posts you've shared on your timeline to only your friends (this action cannot be undone - if you wish to make things public you have to individually go through the activity log).

Step Five: Control Your Apps

How many apps are you sharing your information with? Click on Apps on the left and take a look in the apps you use setting.  I found heaps of old games that I hadn't played for over a year which still had access to my account.  Some apps gather a lot of information about you, information that could compromise your privacy.  Carefully consider what information you are giving to whom. Look at the "apps other use" to see how many you have granted access to your personal information to in the guise of requests from your friends.  Instant personalisation automatically shares your information with your friends when they log onto certain websites.  This setting is set to "on" by default, sharing information you didn't know you were sharing.

Step Six: Opt Out of Ads

Under the Ads section on the left are some new settings which allow you to opt out in case Facebook decides to start allowing third parties (organisations outside of facebook) to use your name and image in ads in the future. Ever wondered why your sister keeps recommending goji berries to you as a weight loss miracle? Social ads trace activities outside of facebook and make recommendations based on this. You can turn this off too.

For the full and original article click here.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Support your Daughter in Mathematics with Khan Academy

What is a growth mindset?
There are two types of mindsets and they are important to understand, especially in the teaching of math. A fixed mindset basically says that I am good at math because I have an inherent talent for it. I'm either born with the math gene or not. This is the mindset most people have and it severely limits the accessibility of a deep understanding of mathematics. A growth mindset says that I am good at math because I work hard. The importance of this is that it opens the door to a deep understanding of math to everyone! You don't have to be born with the math gene you just have to be willing to take responsibility for your understanding, ask questions, and work hard. There are things you can do to encourage a growth mindset.
(Read more at Changing Parents Mindset)

Many of us (teachers and parents) have a fixed mindset about our own maths ability, which dates back to our school days or some negative experience we had.  Unfortunately, it is all too easy for us to pass this on to our daughters and students especially when confronted with a teenager asking for help on something we haven’t looked at for 20 years or more and don’t have the resources to even begin to find a way to help.

That’s about to change….enter Khan Academy.

What is Khan Academy?

Like our school, Khan Academy believes learning should be: 
  • Personalized for learners to move at their own pace 
  • Focused on mastery to fill learning gaps in foundational understanding
  • Interactive and exploratory

Benefits of Khan Academy 

  • Strengthen your child’s knowledge and fill in gaps in their learning 
  • Build your child’s confidence and engagement in learning 
  • Access detailed data about your child’s learning progress 
  • Don’t break the bank – it’s free to use any of our resources

Ways Parents can use Khan Academy

As a parent or mentor, here are a few suggestions on how to use Khan Academy:
  • Check on stats: Use the KA data reports to find out how much time your child is spending on KA, what is their focus and what they are struggling with 
  • Have routine check-ins: Work with your child to establish milestones on what they will accomplish that week or month. It helps provide transparency, as well as build motivation through periodic milestones. It is recommended to keep a physical notebook or tracking list to track milestones and mark them off. 
  • Encourage and support: Use the data provided in KA to identify your child’s strengths and empower your child to overcome any challenges. For example, you might acknowledge an impressive badge that was recently earned, or encourage your child to take the hints or watch a video for an exercise that he/she might be struggling with.
  • Learn with them: Role model what lifelong learning looks like. Either choose a new topic to learn together or just learn a topic separately.
  • Advocate for them: Talk to their teachers about how to get involved and be supportive, or how Khan Academy can be integrated into their formal education.

Where do I start?

  1. Create a Khan Academy account of your own (it's free) at
  2. When you first log in, you will be asked to do a pre-test, just like your daughter was.  Don't worry, just have a go - the questions will get easier if you click "I haven't learnt that yet". If you're interested in learning more your dashboard will have recommended  topics based on this pretest.
  3. Invite your daughter to be your student by entering her email address. Go to Coach > Manage Students

Note: if you have other children over the age of 13 you can also invite them via their email address once they have signed up.  If you have children under the age of 13 they can also use Khan Academy by you creating them a child account.  Click on child accounts on the left hand side (under Manage Students) and create an individual account for each child.

Create a "New Class" on the left hand side and add all your children to it.

Where do I view my daughter's progress?

By clicking on Coach then Class Stats you can see information about all of your children. 

Progress By Exercise

  • see exercises your daughter is proficient or has mastery in or is struggling in

 Progress By Table

  • the same information as Progress by Exercise in a table format
Delve further into which questions within the activity were correct and which were incorrect
And even further to see the attempts made to answer the question
  • Finally, a little video camera appears in the graph if the video was watched as well as a symbol if a hint was used.
  • Watching videos and taking hints are great strategies for students to use to problem solve how to answer the questions.

Other Reports - Activity

  • See home much time was spend and what activities were attempted.

Some Final Points

  • The more you use Khan Academy the more accurate it becomes in determining exactly what a student needs to learn
  • The dashboard will recommend exercises based on prior activities
  • Particular topics can be selected from the menu in learn
  • If you have any questions, please write a comment and we will endeavour to answer them for you.

    Thursday, 29 August 2013


    Computer Testing by kodomut, on Flickr
    Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  kodomut 

    Hello Parents,

    We have come so far in working with both students and teachers on the use of technology, using ICTs to improve learning and creating positive digital footprints that the digital divide for those in our community who haven't had these opportunities is widening.  We see our parents as not only the primary educators of their children but also as our partners in working with their children.

    To help those parents who feel like their children are leaving them behind in their use of technology catch up (and maybe even get ahead) I have decided to create this blog which will link into our iCentre website and be included in the school newsletter.

    I have created a second page to this blog for feedback from parents on topics that they would like me to cover so please feel free to comment so that I can make this relevant to you and the things you would like to know.

    Anita Garnsworthy

    Onto the first post....

    The Basics

    Where to Start...

    With Your Daughter

    If your daughter is using a program or app you don't know how to use, ask her to show you.  Not only is it a great way for you to connect, it's also a fantastic opportunity for her to show you how clever she is.

    Google It

    This is my secret weapon.  I don't know everything - I know surprising isn't it.  What I do know is how to find the answer. I go to Google and type in what I want to know and most of the time I find the answer.  Knowing the correct names for activities \ tools \ processes you want to know about does make it easier but until you know that language, describing what you want to happen is often a great starting point.

    Atomic Learning

    Our school subscribes to Atomic Learning.  Your daughter has her own username but we also have a generic school login account.  One of the fantastic things about Atomic Learning is that part of our subscription is that is freely available to students and their families.  Atomic learning has hundreds of video tutorials on how to use many different types of software - Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint), the Adobe Creative Suite, many iPad apps along with many, many other programs.  Why not log on and take a look.

    Some General IT skills

    I came across Teach Parents Tech today.  Whilst it is a tongue in cheek way for your daughter to set you up with the skills she thinks you may need to know, the videos available in the middle section are quick and short skills tutorials.

    View the whole website at

    Next week

    Learn how you can support your daughter's development of numeracy and mathematics with Khan Academy.