I’ve been talking about Online Safety this month with my 3rd graders. Before you ask, I’m not aware of any national “Internet Safety Month” going on in March (apparently the awareness month for National Cyber Security is October. Awfully cold sounding name, eh?) At any rate, we’ve been using a website provided by the horribly cute people over at Disney called Surf Swell Island. I was first tipped off to this site while reading Christopher’s blog, and squirrelled it away until now. The kids get to follow Mickey and the gang around on Surf Swell Island, trying to recover the lost magical jewels by answering questions and completing challenges about online safety and etiquette.
While I’m not a huge Disney fan, I thought this website was appropriate for the 3rd graders as it not only did the typical “don’t tell strangers online personal information” bit, but it also included a nice mini-game about polite ways to chat or communicate with other people online, so they don’t develop into teenagers that start telling people to STFU every time they get upset with someone online (warning, don’t visit that link if you’re at school with kids around you). They had to identify more positive ways to say some rather mean-spirited and ugly comments, so it was nice to see them have to actually read and process rather than just click on the “Yes” or “No” answers so many online games have.
After they finished up with the activities, and printed off their “must have” Surf Swell Safety certificates, I had them group up and share what they had already known, and might have learned about Online Safety. I appointed one member of each group as the scribe, and they recorded everything the group had to say on the matter. When we came back together as a class they had managed to collect quite a few tips and pointers on how to stay safe online, many of which hadn’t even been addressed on the Disney site. So what did we do with all of that information? We turned it into an Online Safety Campaign, and created posters to promote Internet Safety in KidPix (although Paint, Tux Paint, and other pieces of graphics software would have done the same job). Their currently in the process of finishing up, and have started to put the posters up all around school. That gave them a little thrill, as they could place them anywhere in the hallways they wanted, even the fourth and fifth grade hallways where they rarely get a chance to go. I’ve put a few examples of their work here within the post, but my favorite is below, which I’ve dubbed the “Safe Surfer Dude”. You can click on any of the images to get a larger version.