6 Internet Safety Tips for Teachers

An increasing number of elementary schools across the country have access to the internet. We live in a digital age and students need to learn about this valued tool early. As a teacher, your role is an important one: How do you teach kids about the valuable tool and resource that the internet is while leaving out all the bad stuff it can bring? Here are a few ideas.

1. Read and reference your school district Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).

First, make sure you are familiar with your school and district’s guidelines for proper internet use. You can either download your school district’s AUP online or get it from a school administrator. Besides informing you of what activity on the school computers is acceptable and what is not, the AUP will have great information you can use in your lessons on internet and computer use.

2. Teach students about legal issues surrounding internet use.

The internet is a massive tool and with that comes a lot of legal issues if it is not handled properly. Nowadays, every student knows what Facebook is. Most of them probably know how to unlock a smartphone or tablet, and many of them can open a webpage and play online games. But very few know about key legal issues related to their internet use. As a teacher, be sure your students are not just learning about how to use the internet, but also about plagiarism and copyright issues, Creative Commons, and how to effectively use the internet to perform research.

3. Have a lesson on internet safety.

Actually, have several lessons on internet safety. In this day and age, your students are not just accessing the internet from school under your ever-watchful eye. They may be accessing it at home or with friends, and they may or may not be supervised while they’re doing it. Make sure students are aware of internet safety issues and that you talk about it in each of your lessons. Websites such as the Federal Trade Commission and NetSmartz are good resources for additional tips and lesson ideas.

4. Know what they’re up to when you’re not around.

To speak to the previous point, students are not just using the internet at school. Keep informed of what students are doing online when you aren’t watching them. You can be more aware of issues your students are facing if you know what they’re doing when their internet use is unsupervised.

5. Protect your online identity.

As a teacher, you have a responsibility to be a role model to your students, offline as well as online. Make sure that you have strong passwords in place, and don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want your students or their parents to see. Never add students or their parents as friends or followers on your social media profiles.

6. Have an open-door policy about cyberbullying and internet safety.

Ultimately, you need to be a resource for students and their parents if questions arise. A shocking 52 percent of young people in the United States report that they have experienced cyberbullying, and one-third of those kids said they had received online threats. If a student or their parents come to you with cyberbullying or internet safety concerns, make sure to address them. Get administration involved if possible. Encourage your students and their parents to talk to you if there is a concern about internet safety.

Essentially, teaching your students about safe internet use is extremely important, whether you are using the internet in your classroom or not. As a teacher, you need to be a trusted source for your students so they can stay safe—online and off.

Lesson Ideas: Blending Social Studies and ELA

One thing that we frequently discuss at Studies Weekly in our personal conversations, individual department meetings, and companywide events is the importance of social studies education. And why wouldn’t we? This is what we do every day.

To us, social studies is about more than teaching kids the states and capitals. It’s more than just learning the geography of your state or all the names and terms of the presidents. Incorporating English Language Arts into your social studies can and should be done as a richer education experience. Here are five ideas to blend ELA learning with your social studies lessons:

1. Act It Out

After reading their Studies Weekly booklets for the week, assign students a literary genre. They will then choose an article from their publication and present it to the class. For instance, they can write a poem about Christopher Columbus and recite it or act it out. Students can create a mystery story relating to the forming of their state, or a comedy sketch about the three branches of government.

Encourage students to get creative with props and the storyline, but remind them to showcase what they learned about their chosen topic.

This teaches the following ELA areas: Speaking; Writing; Reading; Listening; Analysis; Research and Citations; Art, Activities and Projects; Viewing; and Literary Genres.

2. Create a Video Journal

After reading their Studies Weekly booklets for the week, have them create video journals. This is easier to do if students have access to computers or tablets. If they don’t have access, they can create a storyboard of what would transpire in the video. The goal is not a perfect analysis of the event or the historical figure you are studying.

Video journals build fluency, prepare students for discussions, and help students practice conversation. They teach the following ELA areas: Speaking, Listening, Analysis, and Viewing.

3. Have A Debate

Set up a debate in your elementary school class. This is going to look different depending on which grade you’re teaching. A fourth grader’s understanding of the Emancipation Proclamation, for instance, will be a lot different from a sixth grader’s, but this doesn’t mean it’s impossible for them to learn it and talk about what they learned.

Have students on either side research the topic and debate the pros and cons, discuss the implications and originations of the subject, and try to come up with a compromise.

This teaches the following ELA areas: Speaking, Writing, Reading, Listening, Analysis, and Research and Citations.

4. Hold a Round Table Discussion

Have all the students choose one of the articles in the Studies Weekly booklet for that week. After thoroughly reading and analyzing the article and its subject, put all the desks or chairs in the classroom in a circle.

With their booklets in front of them, encourage the students to open up a dialogue about what they read. Encourage them to use other sources to pull information and cite from if needed to expound their point.

This teaches the following ELA areas: Speaking, Reading, Analysis, and Research and Citations.

5. Write to a Historical Pen Pal

After reading their Studies Weekly booklets for the week, have students choose a historical pen pal or when relevant, a current political figure.

Once a week, students will write to a historical figure that they have chosen to learn more about. Encourage the students to draw pictures or incorporate diagrams, and ask questions.

Once completed, pass out the letters to a different classmate and have them respond back as if they were the historical figure.

This teaches the following ELA areas: Writing, Reading, Analysis, Research and Citations, and Art, Activities, and Projects.

Increase Critical Thinking with Studies Weekly

Critical thinking is more than just being able to think clearly about a topic or a problem. It is a crucial life skill that every student must learn.

Many of our students will not learn this essential skill at home, so it becomes extraordinarily important to increase critical thinking at school. (In the meantime, you can get parents more engaged with our Parent Accounts.)

Teachers have actually been using Studies Weekly to incorporate critical thinking skills in their classrooms for decades. Here are some ideas that we’ve come across.

1. Start by Asking a Question

The easiest way to increase critical thinking in your students is to begin your lesson with an open-ended question. The question should require some research and problem solving.

One thing we encourage teachers to do is have students read an article out of their Studies Weekly and discuss it as a class. What are the similarities between the people in the article and your students? What might your students do differently for alternative outcome?

2. Have Students Collaborate

Collaboration is not only an essential skill for critical thinking, but it will serve your students well to learn now how to cooperate with peers. As students gather around their Studies Weekly and discuss a problem, they are able to come to conclusions and process information by learning from their peers.

3. Hold a Mock Debate

Holding a debate is a great way to increase critical thinking about both sides of an issue. Take an issue from your Studies Weekly publications for the week and have students discuss each side. Ask a question and have students take turns debating their stance.

If students are up for it (older kids might be “too cool” at this point so gauge what will work best for your class!), you could even have them role play both sides. Seeing it from another perspective can be a great way to get students thinking analytically and creatively about a problem or issue.

4. Increase Critical Thinking Through Information Fluency

Information fluency is a key ingredient in critical thinking. This involves knowing how to use the information you gather to determine what is useful and appropriate, and what is not. When you ask your question at the beginning of the lesson, pull out some phrases from the Studies Weekly text and write them on the board. Have students decide based on the question which pieces of information are useful and which are not.

5. Teach Open-Ended Problem-Solving

Assign a student or a group of students a problem. Perhaps they have to build a tower or hat out of unrelated out of unrelated, very different ingredients. The goal of the project is to get students learning how to problem solve. There will be a lot of trial and error and discovery, as students are forced to try different things to accomplish the goal.

Critical thinking is an essential skill for your students to have a successful adult life. For more of our classroom ideas and to download some free lesson plans, subscribe to our newsletter. Or you can sign up for a free trial of Studies Weekly.

PledgeCents Makes Classroom Fundraising Easy

We have talked to many of our teachers at various education events we attend, such as the NCSS 2017 event in November and the upcoming Empower18 conference in March. A common thread we hear from many teachers is that affording the classroom materials necessary for effective teaching is difficult.

On average, teachers spend $600 out of their own pockets towards their classrooms every year. Educators across the country are spending approximately $1.6 billion dollars of their own money on school supplies! There are many classroom fundraising tools out there. However, we have talked to several teachers who aren’t sure where to go or how to start.

We’d Like to Help with Classroom Fundraising

At Studies Weekly, we’d like to see teachers keep more of their money and find alternative ways of classroom fundraising. And fundraisers can only go so far. In fact, many schools have fundraisers and other schoolwide events to raise money for their classrooms and students. While this might help some, teachers shouldn’t have to be completely dependent on their school administrators for funding.

Free Studies Weekly Programs

This is one of the many reasons why we have free learning opportunities for teachers, such as the virtual Veterans Day Assembly we did on Veterans Day.

About PledgeCents

classroom fundraising is easy with pledgecents and studies weekly partnership What many do not know is that we have also partnered with a company called PledgeCents to help teachers raise money for their classrooms. So far, donors have made over $1.5 million dollars in donations to educators and education-related projects via PledgeCents. PledgeCents has partnered with Teach For AmericaKIPP Public Charter Schools, in addition to being a 100Kin10 partner, aimed at training and retaining qualified STEM teachers.

Official Partnership

In July 2017, PledgeCents and Studies Weekly officially entered a partnership to give teachers easier access to increased classroom fundraising opportunities. Although we know many teachers use the platform to fundraise for Studies Weekly subscriptions, you can use it for anything. If you’re not sure whether Studies Weekly is for you, order your free sample here. In the meantime, you can easily get started with PledgeCents. Just click here and fill out your information, share your story, and start spreading the word.

 

Employee Profile: Ed Rickers, Company CEO

Before taking command of the Studies Weekly ship, Ed was heavily entrenched in sales as a door to door salesman. Studies Weekly began as a project with its first operations in his garage in the late 90s.

Now, two decades later and fueled by Diet Coke and immense passion, Ed has grown his garage project into a successful multimillion dollar company (and we work in a building now, please don’t worry about us).

When I first stepped into Ed’s office, he asked me why I think his office is the biggest one. In my head, I thought, “Because you’re the most important person here?” but I knew Ed wouldn’t say that. He laughed a little and said, “They give it to the person with the most room for improvement.” Because that’s the kind of guy Ed is. Humility is his trademark and every step of the way there is always something that can be done better, and there is always, always room for a higher, loftier goal.

From Humble Beginnings to Company CEO

Ed started out as a door to door salesman in college and realized after he graduated that his part-time summer sales job was far outpacing his full-time job. So he graduated, quit his full-time job, and was a professional door-to-door salesman for over a decade. There was no way he could have known 20 years later that he would be a company CEO of his own making, running a million dollar education empire, and that he would have such an immense passion for aiding in children’s learning.

From a tiny garage to a beautiful building at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Studies Weekly has undergone changes more than just in size, although our physical growth is impressive. Studies Weekly began as a print product in just Utah and Texas. It has grown to be officially adopted by 7 states, and 1 in 7 students in the U.S. use Studies Weekly every day.

Our publications are not just in print anymore, either. Millions of students across the country at many types of schools are using the Studies Weekly online component. In addition to the online learning tool, we have nearly 4,000 original videos on virtually every imaginable topic.

A Friendly and Passionate Heart

As Ed and I talked about where he wants to go with his company and about the things that he most wants his team members to learn, it struck me profoundly how much he cares. That may be just the quality that is most impressive about Ed Rickers. It would be difficult to find someone who cares a fraction as much about their company as he does.

And it’s not just about the job for him. It’s not only about career growth. If you happen to cross paths with Ed during the work day, expect him to spend some real time with you. One thing he loves about what he does here is spending time with people around the company. He likes to hear about what they’re doing, how they feel, and what’s going on in their lives. In a company of over 100 people, making each one feel noticed is no easy feat. But he pulls it off.

 

I love having the opportunity to make a meaningful difference for so many kids. When you can make a product and publish it, and see millions of kids benefitting from it, that’s really satisfying.

Ed Rickers, President and CEO

Studies Weekly

Career Advice

Ed’s advice to anyone interested in a career at Studies Weekly (and why wouldn’t you be?) is to get to know the product. Go out into the warehouse and talk to the people working there. Read the product. Ask the graphic designers and illustrators what they’re working on. Go and watch some of the videos that our robust video department has created. Ed encourages all of his team members to do this, to ultimately “be a product of the product.”

Global-Sized Goals

Ed Rickers’s father-in-law, Paul Thompson, published the first Studies Weekly publication in 1984. Thompson produced the first issue after realizing there was no adequate textbook available to teach his fourth grade class. With the same will and determination that Ed has now, he set up Studies Weekly as a family business. As company CEO, Ed expanded Studies Weekly to Florida, Arizona, and  gradually began building other state-specific publications.

Find out what your real purpose is and do it. Everyone’s purpose is different. People find meaning and purpose in lots of different ways. However you do it, do it. Whatever your meaning is, your purpose in life, just follow it. Put it into action and operationalize it. For me, it’s all about making a difference through education.

Ed Rickers

In case you wondered, Ed’s ambition is not restricted to the United States. He’s not the type to ground himself in his too-large office waiting to improve. Oh, no. Ed dreams of an international product provided at low- or no-cost to developing countries all over the world. And nobody here doubts that he can do it. Ed Rickers makes it clear: with a big heart, bright mind, and a lifelong passion, there is no end to what you can do.