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Helping to Clear the Murky Waters of Copyright & Fair Use in Education

Posted by ssweeney on September 9, 2015

copyrightIt is our job as educators to not only know about these laws, but to also teach about them in our classrooms.  The idea of copyright is a very good one.  Who wouldn’t want to protect their rights to something they have created?  However as teachers we can’t afford to pay for every item we would like to use for educational purposes, nor can we expect students to pay for everything they would like to implement into a project.  Luckily, fair use was established to help with these situation in the field of education.  Theproblem is that this gift is often a curse, because there is no one clear answer when it come to the rules of fair use in education.

A great place to start building your understanding of what is right and wrong with fair use is to print off the Copyright & Fair Use Guidelines for Teacherswhich is published online by Tech & Learning

Your next stop should be the website Education World which published a series of five articles that do a fabulous job of explaining copyright and fair use in education.   I highly recommend that you take the time to read them, especially Part 4: Applying Fair Use to New Technologies.

The Educator’s Guide to Copyright and Fair Use
Part 1: Copyrights and Copying Wrongs
Part 2: Is Fair Use a License to Steal?
Part 3: Copyright Law and New Technologies
Part 4: Applying Fair Use to New Technologies
Part 5: District Liability and Teaching Responsibility

Finally here are a few resources you and your students can use to avoid breaking copyright.  These are resources that are either classified as public domain or they are royalty free.



This post was originally posted by the same author on

Choosing a Safe, Strong Password

Posted by xnunezdp on August 12, 2015

When we ask our students to come up with a password, how can we help them make the right choices to create a safe, strong password?

We can ask them to review this Perfect Passwords Checklist where they take into consideration the length and characters that should be included.

Once the password has been chosen, students can “test” its strength in the website How Secure is My Password? to see if it can be cracked in a few hours or in billions of years!



With the lower grades this Password Rap by NetSmartz Network provides some important information on creating a strong password.

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Decisions to Make

Posted by ssweeney on February 18, 2015

Team Norms/Classroom Norms

  • Can kids listen to music?
  • Do they have to have headphones?
  • How do we manage the kids that are always going off task?
  • What are the procedures when students enter my classroom?
  • Where/when are kids allowed to charge?
  • How will they take notes?

Clear Communication

Making sure that the students understand these expectations and that they can see these expectations regularly is key for helping them stick.  Choose one of the tools below to create a poster for your classroom wall that shows the classroom expectations that you have for your students with their devices.  Need inspiration?  Check out these examples

How will you share your final product?  Can you publish it as a public link?  Can you download it as a file?  Please complete this form

Registering Devices

  • How?
  • When?

Date of Digital BC

  • Why?
  • How?
  • What?
  • Who?
  • When?


Nuts and Bolts

Posted by ssweeney on February 18, 2015

All students and their parents have been asked to complete several tasks prior to the start of school next week.  One of the tasks asks them to read the FDR BYOL Website and answer some key questions that ensure they have seen all of the key content.  To ensure that you understand the expectations, please review the BYOL Website and complete the BYOL Website Quiz.  Pay particular attention to the RESPONSIBLE USE POLICY.

Apply Tech Integration: Humanities

Posted by ssweeney on February 17, 2015



Scenario 1

Using the collaborative features of Prezi, students work with partners to maintain a timeline.  Prezi allows the students to zoom in to particular parts on the timeline and also setup layers of content to show timelines that represent a number of civilizations during that particular time period rather than just one.  Students add text, video, links and pictures to optimize the content they have available to them for comparing what was taking place within world history.  The students then use Screencast-o-matic to capture their observations, comparisons, and connections that they are making between the various cultures, time periods, significant events, and changes.  Screencast-o-matic allows them to smoothly show and transition between their timeline and supporting tools like Google Earth and online resources to help support their hypotheses.

Scenario 2

Finding that the textbook is out dated for the content students must learn, the teacher assigns groups of students a number of content standards and the correlating textbook chapter.  The students are then asked to use the iBook Author to create a new more dynamic textbook for use in the class.  Students will be competing against groups from other classes to be the one that is published in the final version of the new text.  Students are asked to include elements like videos, links, short multiple choice comprehension checks, interactive labeled photos, etc.  They must find new resources and summarize the content to add to the chapter they are writing.  To finalize the project, students will present/compare their chapter to the other class periods that rewrote the same content.  With the help of a teacher editor, they will choose which group did the best job at updating the content.  Students will then be in charge of instructing their classmates of the content.

Scenario 3

To help students build connections between geographic location, economics, and culture, the teacher provides partners with a longitude and latitude location which students use in Google Earth to find their spot in the world.  From this, students make observations using Google Earth and the various information layers to hypothesize about what the people that live there would eat; how they would dress; what they would make, sell, or trade; what other civilizations they would have connected with through history; and beliefs that they have.

Apply Tech Integration: Language

Posted by ssweeney on February 17, 2015



Scenario 1

This teacher uses literature circles in the classroom to differentiate for students with various reading levels and interests.  Students will be using the free Kindle app for the students to read their books.  The Kindle app syncs across devices, so students can read on their laptop, tablet, or smartphone.  While reading, students use the highlight tool to note the words they had to look up using the one tap dictionary tool.  They also collect notes as they read using digital sticky notes that they can easily refer to later.  The students will share this content with their teacher to show their work collecting information about themes, characters, and other literary content.

Scenario 2

To guide students while working on researching, students use Google Docs to collect the information they are gathering from online resources.  They locate resources using the built in Research tool in Google Docs, which also creates the citation automatically for the students.  As students access the resources they have been recommended, they use the tool Diigo to highlight the content they find important to their project and can add a sticky note annotating what is important about that information.  The resources are then Diigo bookmarked and added to their project list of links.  The teacher periodically accesses their Google Doc to check student progress.  To ensure that the student is using proper summarizing techniques and not plagiarizing, the teacher selects samples of text from the notes and pastes them into the Google Search bar to see if that phrase was taken from somewhere else.

Scenario 3

This project has three levels of collaboration.  A 1st grade class and a 4th grade class team up for writing.  The 4th graders work with a 1st grader to develop a plot triangle for a story.  They discuss every element of a story.  Then using Google Docs for writing, the 4th grader takes the suggested ideas of the 1st grader and writes the full story.  The 8th grade students now add their help and worked with a 4th grade class to collaborate on the editing process. As the 4th graders created more content, the 8th graders use the commenting feature to provide feedback on improvements that should be made.  The 8th graders used the rubric for the final writing piece to guide the younger students to a successful piece of writing.  The 4th graders then used Explain Everything to illustrate, animate, and read aloud their short story.  Prior to recording their read aloud, they Skyped with their 8th grade partner to practice their read a loud and get tips on voice inflection.  The digital book was then published on YouTube and the 1st grade class then watched the animated books and read along with their 4th grade writing buddies.

Tech Integration: Math

Posted by ssweeney on February 17, 2015



Scenario 1

Eager to move her students into the digital age, a teacher recreates a math workbook page into digital format by typing it out herself.  She does this so that she can then upload the digital worksheet to the content management system (CMS) where students can download the sheet, complete it digitally, and then upload the worksheet to the CMS for submission.

Scenario 2

Teacher uses the math program Aleks in their classroom with their students.  Aleks uses a pre-assessment to determine what a student knows and doesn’t know about their grade level math.  It then teaches students the concepts and assess them on their understanding.  While students are working on this, the teacher pulls small groups based on the performance information Aleks provides for her to help support areas where students are struggling.  When a child finishes a piece of their learning pie, the must complete a learning challenge.  The learning challenges are problem based projects that students complete to demonstrate their understanding of an area by applying there skills.

Scenario 3

To demonstrate understanding a concept in math class, the teacher encourages the use of non-fiction writing skills by asking students to reflectively write out the process they go through for solving an equation.  They then prepare slides within Keynote that show each step to solve the equation.  Finally they use the presentation audio recording tool to record themselves reading allowed the step-by-step process while they click through the slides.  This video is then uploaded to the student’s YouTube account, so it can be linked on their online portfolio as evidence of learning.