Tools, Apps & Texts

Internet Safety (2009)

We take privacy and online safety seriously at The Media Spot. One of the most important outcomes of our work with Web 2.0 tools like blogs is the opportunity to inform students about Internet safety, and get them into safe online habits in a safe environment.

We encourage participation and sharing, but are careful to protect the identities student users of online collaborative environments we proctor. We do not allow the full names of students to appear on our web sites, and we will always collect parental consent forms before images of students appear on our web sites, and all content appearing on our web sites will be stricktly monitored.

We also comply with Regulations & Standards outlined by the following organizations:

Key issues related to online safety:

Student Privacy

  • Sign your work with FIRST NAMES ONLY! (If you want to establish “code names” with your students for the blogs, that’s another layer of safety)
  • Never share personal information over the Internet
  • DO NOT type email addresses
  • DO NOT type last names
  • DO NOT type home addresses or phone numbers

Blog, Voicethread, and other online community & social networking moderation
Social Networking tools allow registered users within an online community to publish content and reply to content using “comments”. All staff members have accounts that allow them to publish posts, and students may publish by using designated class user accounts. No one else has the ability to publish blog posts.


Those who visit our networks who are not logged in may respond to blog posts with comments, but those comments will not be published until a blog administrator approves them.

As an additional security measure for content that should only be viewed by members of the school commnunity, certain blog posts may be password protected.


‘Cyberbullying’ is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. Read More on

We consider Cyberbullying a serious issue. Because all student activity on our websites are “moderated” by staff members, it is not likely that inappropriate content will reach our students. However, when an attempt at Cyberbulling is encountered (i.e. a derogatory comment from one student responding to another student’s work), staff members should treat it as a teaching opportunity by following these steps:

  • Identify the author of the message
  • Alert the class that an inappropriate message has been detected, and have a discussion about Cyberbullying
  • Show the author of the message how their offending message was detected in the “moderation queue”, and explain that a large audience of administrators and teachers have seen the message in moderation
  • Ad Council’s Campaign Against Cyberbullying
  • (Optionally) Watch this Public Service Announcement on Cyberbullying

Also, check out the following Internet Safety Resources

Online Culture & Parenting

Social Networking, Facebook & Cyberbullying

K-12 Curriculum Development

The Media Spot listed on The Media Education Lab’s top 7

I was recently consulting The Media Education Lab’s website for ideas on how to explain the concept of Media Literacy and describe the field of Media Education to a group I was speaking to in Florida. I was delighted to find listed as one of seven resources linked to from The Media Education Lab’s Key Resources page, where TMS is described as one of their “favorite youth media organizations”! (more…)

TMS Custom Resources

TMS produces video for The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education.

<--break->Since September of 2007 we have been contributing to the development of The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education (PDF).

Our most substantial contribution to the effort has been Media Literacy through Production-based Media Education, a video we produced to help frame the issues surrounding fair use in the context of elementary school video production.  (more…)

K-12 Curriculum Development

Blended Intergenerational High School Voicethread Planning in Nashville

Last fall TMS established a “blended” (in-person + online) professional development relationship to develop a Voicethread unit plan for student multimedia productions involving participation from older adults in the community with English classes of Elizabeth Smith at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet, a public high school in Nashville, TN.  Hume Fogg has been recognized as a national Blue Ribbon school by the USDOE, and ranked the 49th best public school in the country by US News & World Report, which meant that the existing project plans that Elizabeth brought for us to work media literacy concepts and digital media tools into were already chock-full-of rigor and creatively designed.

Blended planning

Elizabeth and I were connected through her involvement with The Generation Connection camp (TGC), which TMS has collaborated with for 9 years. Our blended relationship began with a face-to-face meeting in Nashville to brainstorm ways that TGC, TMS and Hume Fogg could create a project that would incorporate media literacy concepts into a high school English project that involved older adults in the community as collaborators and resources for the students.  After getting a feel for each other in person, we continued developing the project over the phone, co-editing planning documents in Google Docs (left), and within projects (below).

Intergenerational Collaboration within Schools

TGC’s mission is to faciliate reciprocal mentoring between youth and older adults to build community, and create meaningful relationships between often isolated groups within the same community.  We planned to match small student production groups with older adults from the community as a resource and collaborator.  The “reciprocal” element would involve students teaching older adults Voicethread skills and schooling them in social media online collaboration, which is second-nature to them, while older adults would offer their generation’s research methods, and in some cases first-hand experinece related to the projects, or knowledge of how readings of the classic novels the projects are connected to have changed over the years.  As we’ve seen through TGC  Due to the logistics of background checks, and scheduling challenges, the intergenerational collaboration did not materialize this time around, but will remain a part of the unit plan for 2012-13 school year at Hume Fogg.

Voicethread “Case” Productions around Classic Novels

Step 1: Intro project for teacher & students to get acquainted with Voicethread

Students first completed mini projects to get acquainted with the Voicethread process defending the relevance of In Cold Blood for an AP English Curriculum: Here’s the assignment (Google Doc):

Step 2: Larger-scale projects requiring specific multimedia elements

[Elizabeth, would you like to give a sentence or two about the objective of the assignment?  And a description of the showcase you guys did at the end to culuminate?  Did you have a rubric for analyzing the work?]

Meta Documentary plan (Google Doc)

Media literacy value amplified by the assignment, made possible by Voicethread

The strength of these projects from a media literacy perspective are in the specific requirement of students to communicate and persuade through a combination of media in an online environment.  Students must decide where to get quality information to complete their “case” assignment, and synthesize that information by communicating what they learned through a combination of video, documents, and images in Voicethread.  Voicethread allowed the incorporation of whatever media the students chose to produce, and allowed collaboration to take place asynchronously as well as in person in class.  It also allows for student or teacher and peer interaactive review through the commenting feature.


Presentations & Notes

PS124 3rd Grade Technology Intro Lesson

Google Map Image of PS124Intro to Mr. Rhys & The Media Spot (3rd Grade)

I am here to help you learn how to help you and your teacher use the computer for learning, and to help you create and publish writing, artwork and videos to the Internet.
While we talk today, your teacher will help connect what we are talking about to what your class has been learning this year.

For example, when I am explaining to you how we will be “publishing” your school work on the Internet, your teacher will help you understand what it means to “publish” something by treating it like any of your vocabulary words. Words like “Internet”, “Publish”, “Blog”, and “Keywords” can go on the word wall with other words you are learning in class this year.


  • the key to everything we do on the Internet
  • you’re going to learn by practicing with the Type2Learn game, and by typing your handwritten work onto the computer
  • everything we look at or add to the Internet is based on language used to communicate: letters, words, numbers (Math) — we have to know how to type to communicate

the Internet:

  • a way to find information on just about anything;
  • anyone can publish information here — INCLUDING US; Should you believe everything you read on the Internet?
  • examples:
    • Searching for pictures and information through “Search Engines” (,
    • Google Maps;
    • a place to publish OUR OWN information about what we’ve learned and what we think about things…


  • OUR class blog is our home page on the Internet (like: Last year’s PS124 blog); like a journal
  • a way to share what we’re doing with people all over the school and all over the Internet
  • examples of how we’ll use it:
  • typing writing from your writer’s notebook
    • answering math problems
    • posting artwork
    • eventually posting a video that we make
    • communicating with people from all over the Internet

WATCH the PS 124 Guacamole video and leave a comment on the PS124 blog. What did we like about it?

Talk to each other about what you might want to write on the blog.

NEXT LESSON: hand out computers

  • handle with care
  • they go back in the slots, and get plugged in (2 kids per computer)
  • I’ll be back on Friday/next week to practice the type2learn with you

NEXT LESSON: type 2 learn

  • this is a game that helps you learn to type
  • protocols for using the computers
  • if your computer is having problems, restart and follow along with your neighbor (take turns per lesson), show the guac video, show setting up the projector with the OSX laptop, show last year’s blog, explain this year’s quickly. To do ALL of this, we need to be able to type fast. It’s ALL based on Language — words, letters and numbers.
  • it’s important to follow the rules of the game — it may be more difficult at first, but it will make you faster the more you practice