Skimmers, Smishing, SpoofCards, Wifi Sniffing: What Do You Know About Cybersafety?

I was fortunate to participate in a Goggle Hangout with Sarah Thomas on cybersecurity this December. Sarah is the Technology Liaison at John Hanson French Immersion School in Oxon Hill, MD.  In addition to this role, she also teaches Technology Integration and English Language Arts at the middle school level.  She has served on the School Leadership Team, advising administrators and teachers on technology-related matters. Her cybersecurity session was informative and interactive and by the end of it, I made sure I subscribed to her interactive YouTube tutorials for teachers and followed her boards on Pinterest (I was already following her on Twitter). I also knew in December that we needed to bring her voice, as well as her talents to a #digcit chat in 2014.

I hope you can join us for #digcit chat tomorrow 4/9/14 at 7pm ET as Sarah shares “Protect Yo’Self Foo!” Please watch her GH prior to the chat, so you can actively participate in our cybersafety/cybersecurity discussion.

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In the chat, we will explore skimmers, smishing, spoofcards, wifi sniffing and other cyberthreats:

Q1: Now that we have a working #cybersafety #cybersecurity definition how do & can we inform others?

Q2: What do you see as the biggest educational cyberthreat in 2014? #digcit

Q3: What is the biggest cyberthreat to you, personally? #digcit

Q4: What measures do you take to protect your identity? #digcit

Q5: How do we help protect our students & inform parents about the seriousness of #cybersafety? #digcit

Q6: What safety tips do you use that you could share with others? #digcit

To participate in the #digcit chat, all you need is a Twitter account.  You can follow the hashtag #digcit between 7-8pm ET and tweet your comments and questions to the group by including the #digcit hashtag in your tweet.

We hope tomorrow’s #digcit chat will provide an opportunity for us to examine the measures we are currently taking to protect ourselves, our students and how we are supporting parents in this critical conversation.  As one of my graduate students enrolled in my #digcit course said tonight:


Nashville + social media lesson = #digcit homerun

Props to ABC’s hit show Nashville for providing a teachable moment last night while Rayna addressed the seriousness of her daughter’s choices online. Our teens are desperately trying to figure out who they are, how they fit in and if others like them through a variety of social media applications. After making a music video and posting it online, Daphne, the younger daughter of Rayna demonstrated this as she announced, “I mean, we already have like over 400 views!” In fact, our teens our using #follow4follow as a way to increase their audience, viewings and “likes” on Instagram, Kik, Vine and Twitter. These choices to share personal text, pictures and videos with the unknown are permanent decisions, like a digital tattoo and have consequences that we have never had to face before the onset of social media.

This is conversation that needs to happen on a regular basis both in and out of school.  We need to help our teens navigate this uncharted territory. We should be talking about this 24/7, 365 days a year at home, the bus stop, school, the grocery store, dinner parties, family gatherings, etc. Just this week, I was interviewed twice by Bob Wilson on News 8 WTNH about Proposed Bill May Band “Revenge Porn” and Kids, Smartphones and Safety. All week long, I continued this conversation at home with my family, in my neighborhood, with the young lady who made my Subway sandwich, in the Dunkin Donuts line, at hockey practice and in my classroom with both my undergraduate and graduate students. How will you engage others in this critical conversation?  Can’t wait to see what happens on Nashville next week!

*Two must-watch videos to start the conversation on just how much information we are sharing publicly: Hashtag, You’re It! and You’re Instagram Turns This Man Into a Psychic or Just a Stalker. Additionally, here’s a digital citizenship resource I created for parents and teachers on where our teens are going online, what to avoid and what to encourage.

Connecting a Snow Hike to #GeniusHour and #20Time


© MBFXC 2014

I had meetings and a long to-do list planned yesterday, but Mother Nature intervened.  My son had a snow day and my to-do list quickly became going on a snow hike. He happily packed his backpack with a bottle of water, binoculars, a world atlas and my iPad (just in case we needed to look anything up on our hike).

We were on an adventure to find animals and their winter habitats. We found nests, carved out trees, crevices and footprints in the snow. We went to Salamander Pond (a name my son gave a pond years ago) to see if we could investigate where the salamanders go in the winter.  We stood in silence listening for clues and heard the sound of the snow falling.  It was a spectacular snow day and an even better snow hike!

In fact, it was one of those moments in life that you want to freeze and capture. As I write this post now, I have tears in eyes reflecting on the importance of being present.  When my son was in preschool, we spent every Friday going on learning adventures.  We called them Friday Fun Days and during our snow hike yesterday, we reminisced about all of our previous discoveries.  My son then asked, “Why can’t we have Friday Fun Day anymore?”  I responded, “You are in school now….”

My response kept me up last night, thinking and wondering why this type of learning has to end just because you’re in school five days a week?  I began to connect the concept of our Friday Fun Days, an opportunity for exploration, inquiry, discovery, curiosity, wonder and awe to what educators are doing with #GenuisHour and #20Time.  I reflected on how Nick Provenzano and Joy Kirr embrace this type of learning with their students and I was immediately filled with hope.  Then countless our educators in my PLN came to mind and my list of exceptional educators could go on and on….

My take away?  I have a few – be present and in the moment, cherish moments like a snow hike or Friday Fun Days because nothing in life is more important than the time we spend with each other.  Let students take the lead in their discoveries and learning.  If you are on the fence about Twitter and creating a PLN, you are missing the most incredible opportunity to connect and collaborate with passionate educators committed to student leadership and student voice in their classrooms everyday!  And lastly, I can only hope and pray that every child has a teacher like Nick and Joy, as well as all the educators I know and respect in my PLN.

The Tweet Seen Around the World


Dear PLN:

Please help me show the power of Twitter during the 2013 International Education Week on our campus.  I’m presenting, “The Tweet Heard Around the World” and will be sharing the benefits of embedding social media into higher education with particular emphasis on teacher education.  It is my hope that my presentation will support the need for iCitizenship in teacher education to further support global collaboration with classrooms, students and teachers across the country and around the world via Twitter.

Please leave a comment below sharing where you are from and any comments. Also, I’d be most appreciative if you would RT this blog post to see if we can get it seen/heard around the world!

Thank you for sharing your time, talent and passion with the world!

*Here’s the link to the presentation I did for the 13th Annual International Week. This entire project has been so inspiring! My 7 year old was actively involved keeping a tally on all the locations that have responded.  He looked up every place on a world map and as a result started his first blog.  He wants to keep the geography lesson going, so please take a moment to visit his blog, Around the World With Curran and leave a comment where you are from and a fun fact about your location.  Make sure you see my son as a guest blogger for Angela Maier too!

Get Comfortable with the Uncomfortable: Practicing What I Preach

One of my all-time favorite lines to say to students each semester is, “It’s time to get comfortable with the uncomfortable!”  I’ve consistently modeled this throughout my years of teaching and like to challenge myself on a regular basis.  Tonight was the perfect opportunity to embrace the uncomfortable….

One of our faculty members needed coverage in his math methods course and although I could break out in the hives just thinking about teaching math, I took the challenge and immediately volunteered to take the course for the night.  Why did I do this?  First and foremost, I have the disposition and willingness and secondly, I love a challenge!

Serious props to two amazing and innovative educators for inspiring me!  Hands down @KatrinaKennett has transform the way I teach.  I first met Katrina at EdCampCT and later at EdCampBoston when she ran a session with her high school students on how to host an EdCafe in your classroom.  I have completely embraced EdCafes in my teacher education courses.  Couple this approach with my #iMentor model and I have a winning combination.  A special thanks to @MrBrotherton, one of my iMentors for giving me the courage to see math through a new lens this semester.  His new #MathLiteracy course designed specifically around #MinecraftEdu was just the content I needed to prepare for tonight’s math methods course!

Tonight was a huge risk.  I did not know a single graduate student enrolled in the course and they knew nothing about me. How was I going to be able to build trust, help them unlearn traditional roles in education, and introduce math through social media?  Easy — introduce my PLN, Twitter, Math Literacy, EdCamps and Edcafes: Twitter Meets Math Literacy and EdCafe.  The best part of tonight?  Modeling and practicing what I preach!

As we embrace #ce13 #CEM, take time to try something new, something that makes you uncomfortable and own it, embrace it!  Model what it means to be a learner first and foremost – it is without a doubt, the best thing we can do for our students!

#BostonStrong: Conquering My Fears and Lacing Back Up

Marathon 1I’ve been thinking about writing this post and lacing back up since the Boston Marathon.  I need to move beyond failure, conquer my fears and cross the finish line…

What happened on April 15, 2013 is unimaginable.  As a Bostonian, Patriots Day is the best day in Boston.  Anyone from Massachusetts will tell you their favorite place along the route to watch the marathon: St. Ignatius church at Boston College is my place.  Marathon day for me has always been spent at Boston College!  Over the years, I’ve cheered on Johnny Kelley, Bill Rodgers, Uta Pippig, my Uncle Ron, Jenny Deane, the Hoyts and many more.  The runners have just finished climbing and descending Heartbreak Hill.  Plus, it marks five miles left until the finish line – the perfect place along the 26.2 mile route!

In December 2002, I had defended my dissertation at Boston College and was working at the Campus School on the EagleEyes program.  That winter, I decided to train and run the for the Campus School.  It was an extremely cold winter, but I made it through the frigid temperatures and water bottles freezing on long runs because of my running partner Gaby, a junior at BC and a loyal volunteer at the Campus School.  Our typical route was two laps up and down and all around Heartbreak Hill.  We had thought that if we trained on Heartbreak Hill as a regular run that we’d be mentally ready to conquer it on race day.  The days I ran with Gaby were full of hope and promise, not to mention lots of laughs and so much fun!

Ready for race day, my adrenaline was pumping!  The rhythm of pounding feet, your heartbeat and hearing your own breathing in synch – it’s a beautiful thing!  The crowds were cheering, music was blaring, American flags were waving and I was in the running zone!  It was a glorious day to run.  But, somewhere between the 8-10 mile mark my right leg was tight.  I stopped to stretch and the minute I put pressure back on my right leg, my knee buckled.  I was all done.  My race was over and I would not cross the finish line.

Marathon 2Devastated, I kept going, swinging my right leg around.  I had to convince Gaby to go without me and cross the finish line for both of us.  From the Natick town hall, my emotions had got the best of me and I was sobbing, feeling like a complete failure.  In tears, I managed to keep pushing through even when the crowds had left, the water stations packed up  and the timers at the mile markers were removed.  My family had sent out a search party looking for me, my college roommate Sherri in the above photographs found me around mile 18, just prior to starting up Heartbreak Hill.  I never got to see if I was mentally ready for Heartbreak Hill, I never got to run by St. Ignatius church, I never got to cross the finish line…

I did however, get to go through extensive physical therapy for my IT band injury.  Failure is powerful thing, so is fear.  Since 2003, I’ve avoided running outside and have remained safely on a treadmill.  For cover, I blame my bad knee, but in honesty I’ve been afraid to fail again.  I’m hoping by admitting it and addressing it, that I can finally overcome it.  What happened in Boston this year makes me want to conquer my fears and finish what I had started in 2003.  Plus, I want to finish it for all those who were unable to finish it this year.  I’m ready to lace up and hit the pavement running!

It might take me until midnight to cross the finish line in 2014, but I’m determined this time!  Hoping the Campus School will take this proud alum back as a runner!  I will make it up Heartbreak Hill!  I will proudly pass St. Ignatius Church and I will cross the finish line!

The importance of being present

I’ve seen this posted on many of my friend’s Facebook pages the last several weeks.  I’m unsure of the origin or I would give the original author credit.  All I know is that this is a reminder to all of us to be in the moment and to always be present.  I struggle with this balancing act.  We all do.  But, I try to be present when I’m with my son, my family, my students and my colleagues.  I try to model what it means to be present.  Just because I have a device in my pocket that connects instantaneously to the world, doesn’t mean that I should break eye contact and check my device every time it buzzes or beeps.  Nothing is more important than the face to face moments we encounter everyday.  So, try to walk away from your device and don’t let it control you.  Be conscious and be present.

Image Credit

Dear Mom On the iPhone,

I see you over there on the bench, messing on your iPhone. It feels good to relax a little while your kids have fun in the sunshine, doesn’t it? You are doing a great job with your kids, you work hard, you teach them manners, have them do their chores.

But Momma, let me tell you what you don’t see right now…..

Your little girl is spinning round and round, making her dress twirl. She is such a little beauty queen already, the sun shining behind her long hair. She keeps glancing your way to see if you are watching her.

You aren’t.

Your little boy keeps shouting, “Mom, MOM watch this!” I see you acknowledge him, barely glancing his way.

He sees that too. His shoulders slump, but only for a moment, as he finds the next cool thing to do.

Now you are pushing your baby in the swing. She loves it! Cooing and smiling with every push. You don’t see her though, do you? Your head is bent, your eyes on your phone as you absently push her swing.

Talk to her. Tell her about the clouds, Mommy. The Creator who made them. Tickle her tummy when she comes near you and enjoy that baby belly laugh that leaves far too quickly.

Put your eyes back on your prize…Your kids.

Show them that they are the priority. Wherever you are, be ALL there. I am not saying it’s not ok to check in on your phone, but it’s a time-sucker: User Beware!

Play time at the park will be over before you know it.

The childhood of your children will be gone before you know it.

They won’t always want to come to the park with you, Mommy. They won’t always spin and twirl to make their new dress swish, they won’t always call out, “WATCH ME!”

There will come a point when they stop trying, stop calling your name, stop bothering to interrupt your phone time.

Because they know…

You’ve shown them, all these moments, that the phone is more important than they are. They see you looking at it at while waiting to pick up brother from school, during playtime, at the dinner table, at bedtime…..

I know that’s not true, Mommy.

I know your heart says differently.

But your kids can’t hear your words, Mommy. Your actions are screaming way too loudly.

May our eyes rest upon those we love, first and foremost, and may everything else fall away in the wonderful, noisy, sticky-fingered glory of it all.



Be the solution!

iphoneSince the suicide of Tyler Clementi, I have had a new direction and drive in my teaching and scholarship.  I am committed to making sure that our K-12 teacher candidates are well-versed in all aspects of digital citizenship.  It is imperative that 21st century learners, educators and parents understand the seriousness of living in a networked world.  According to the Pew Report in April 2012, 95% of 12-17 years old are online and 80% of those teens are online using social media sites.  If schools ban devices or block social media sites at school, how can teachers model what it means to be socially responsible online?  We desperately need to engage our children into this critical conversation.

Props to Janell Burley Hofman for writing and sharing such an important letter to her son, Gregory’s iPhone Contract.  As a society, we need  more of this!  Our young adolescents will not understand how their actions, words, pictures and videos can directly influence their own lives and the lives of others if we don’t take the time to ask them to be part of this conversation.

Thank you Janell for the inspiration!  As I say every semester, “If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”  Here’s to 2013, a year of being the solution!  I can’t wait for our spring semester to begin later this month because I’m going to focus on rules #7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14.


Reflection and Inspiration

After writing my end of the year report, I find myself in deep reflection.  It was a tough spring semester.  I made time for my students, my department and my college (now a university), but I fell short for making time for myself.  For the most part, I was silent on my blog and Twitter.  I was a consumer and not a producer.  As a result, I find myself at an end of a semester and academic school year, exhausted and empty.  To recharge over the summer, I’m taking advice from Sean Musselman and a recent #elemsci chat:With help from Pinterest, I got some great ideas for an explorer’s backpack!  I started collecting supplies (binoculars, a compass, journals, colored pencils, a bug jar, magnifying lens, specimen bags, a net, a camera, and a copy of One Small Square Backyard by Donald M. Silver) and presented the explorer’s backpack to our son on the last day of preschool!  He was beyond excited and so was I!

I’ll be blogging our explorations this summer with our five year son on The Explorer’s Site (our first adventure to Roaring Brook Nature Center yesterday is already posted).  It will be my first time trying Google Sites (thanks to Judy Arzt for my crash course this week) and a perfect opportunity to encourage science literacy, as well as the simple joys of being an explorer!  A wonderful way to recharge over the summer and put myself back on my own priority list!

Happy exploring to all!

The Bully Project

I saw the Bully Project last night and I hope parents, teachers and administrators throughout the country will bring their children and students to see it.   How do we engage more people in this critical conversation?  The statistics are dire: 13 million students will be bullied in the U.S. this year and 3 million students are absent each month because they feel unsafe at school.  Look at your school’s mission statement.  I guarantee you that it states that your school is a safe haven for all.  Its time that we create schools where everyone feels welcome and safe.

There were parts of this documentary that made me so angry and other parts that made me cry.  I applaud the students and parents involved in telling their stories and exposing the seriousness of bullying.  Using the excuse, “Kids will be kids or boys will be boys” is no longer acceptable.  I sobbed listening to the students and parents share their pain.  This is a national epidemic which effects children of all ages across our country and around the world.  The time has come and enough is enough.  What are you going to do to be the difference?

Please join #digcit chat on Wednesday, 4/17 at 7 PM EST to be part of the solution and help our schools lead the change and be the difference!