Whilst e-safety skills should be embedded into any lessons you do involving using the Internet and good online behaviours promoted at all times (see this blog post about how I do it on Edmodo), there does come a time when I think that you do need to spend some time with children actually specifically teaching them about the hazards that they might encounter online and strategies that they should use to help minimise them.
With Year 3 children I teach them about the importance of creating strong passwords, with Year 4 children I teach them about the reasons why they should only join child-appropriate websites and with Year 5 children I teach them about the risks associated with revealing too much personal information online.
The two e-safety lessons that I do with Year 5 have gradually evolved and improved each year as new government-backed campaigns have been launched and I've thought up more exciting ways to convey what isn't necessarily the most 'fun' of topics. I'll explain the first lesson that I've just taught today in this blog post and will hopefully write up the second lesson in a forthcoming week.
To organise this lesson neatly and to ensure that the children stayed motivated throughout, I basically split it into four parts that each involved a different type of activity for the children to complete. You should notice that they each include a different level of pupil participation - ranging from independent work on the computer to doing some co-operative learning with their peers - as well as a delivery method that meets children's differing learning style needs (i.e. visual, audial and kinaesthetic).
Even though it was quite a divided lesson made up of lots of short tasks, I still made a quick reference to the: good, great and super criteria too, in order to show my differing levels of expectation for the children in the class:
For the first activity, having discussed with the children the difference between an online communication (that uses the Internet) and an offline communication (that doesn't use the Internet), I asked them to complete a Venn diagram to sort out a variety of statements which describe some differences between the two methods.
They completed this independently on their own (using this PowerPoint activity file I made up) - the idea being that we could then discuss their answers as a whole class together afterwards so they could all understand the key idea that people can lie more convincingly when you can't see them (and therefore pretend to be someone they're not).
For the second, activity, I let them watch the Jigsaw video by the CEOP and think about what mistakes the girl (Becky) made in it that had helped a stranger to find and follow her. These included: making her profile page public, sharing photos of herself wearing her school uniform and telling people when and where she meets up with her friends each day. This then lead nicely into a discussion about what the term 'personal information' means (information that can uniquely identify an individual) and how revealing too much of it can be unwise as a stranger can piece together lots of small facts (rather like a jigsaw puzzle) to find out exactly who you are.
At this stage, I also asked the class to verbally suggest some rules that Becky should follow to stay safer in future, with reference to the 'zip it', 'block it' and 'flag it' slogan (devised by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety):
- Zip it – Don’t share your personal information with strangers. Keep your profile settings private.
- Block it – Block friend requests from strangers on social networking sites.
- Flag it – Always tell a trusted adult if something online scares/upsets you. Report any meeting requests from strangers to a trusted adult. Remember to be as careful online as you are offline.
Next, I then asked the children to answer some questions as though they were talking to a stranger on the Internet to help them learn how they should respond when asked for personal information (politely decline to share it).
To give them a bit of an ICT activity to do here, I got them to draw callout shapes next to each question on the PowerPoint slide in which they could type their answer. I also let those that finished quickly change their fill and outline colours for effect and for a bit of light relief.
Finally, I then taught to the children about some other hazards that they might encounter when using the Internet: receiving spam messages, being a victim of cyber bullying and suffering a virus attack.
To get them to consolidate their understanding of these terms, I finished the lesson off by letting them play a 10 minute quiz-quiz-trade game containing questions about these hazards. The beauty of this structure is that not only does it get every child: up, moving and interacting but it also means that you can get a bit of co-operative learning taking place too (since the more confident children can 'coach' those who are less confident in answering particular questions).
A lot of content was covered in this ICT lesson but all the children seemed to enjoy doing each activity since they gave it a bit of variety. In the next lesson, I'm planning to consolidate everything from today to ensure that every child fully understands it all and to outline any misconceptions that they still might have.
(You might have noticed that I sneaked in a few questions about how to respond to online hazards in the quiz-quiz-trade game at the end - whilst this is going to be the main focus of the next lesson in which I ask them to create a leaflet explaining how to stay safe online, I thought that a tiny introduction this time would reduce the amount of 'new' content next time so that they can spend more time creating a good quality leaflet instead.)