Tech Talk

  • This blog contains information posted by Wyckoff School District technology teachers and other members of the District. The goal of this blog is to provide parents and teachers with relevant information related to technology. On the right-hand sidebar, you will see a list of the dates of posts. The tags below the dates are links that, when clicked, will filter all of the posts on that topic.


  • What Parents of Elementary Students Should Know About Internet Safety

    Posted by Jodi Levine on 4/6/2018

    Parents are often asking me questions regarding how to keep their children safe on the internet.  It is an extremely valid concern and the answer is not to keep their children from going online, but to teach them how to be safe and things to do if they see the "red flags" that they are taught about in school or at home.  We know that computers, iphones, ipads and all other devises are ubiquitous in today's world and technology will keep growing and doing things we can't even imagine today.  With this said, I found two pages that should help you in setting good guidelines for your children, followed by some very important links on the subject.

    Internet Safety Tips by Age: 5-7

    Five- to seven-year-old children have a positive outlook and an accepting nature. They take pride in their new reading and counting skills and love to converse and share ideas. They are eager to behave well; they are trusting; and they don't question authority.

    Kids at this age may be very capable at using computers, i.e. following commands, using the mouse, and playing online games and apps. They are, however, highly dependent on adults or older children to help them find games, videos and websites, interpret online information or communicate with others.

    5- to 7-year-olds:

    •   will accept media content at face value

    •   don't have the critical thinking skills to be online alone

    •   may be frightened by both real and fictional media images

    •   may be frightened by realistic portrayals of violence, threats or dangers

    •   are vulnerable to online marketers who encourage them to give out personal information through surveys, contests and registration forms

    •   may be troubled by behaviours they encounter while playing in virtual worlds

    •   risk moving from appropriate to inappropriate sites and content through hyperlinks

    •   may be exposed to search results that link to inappropriate websites

      Safety Tips General Supervision

      •   Always sit with children at this age when they are online.

      •   Investigate Internet-filtering tools as a complement — not a replacement — for parental supervision.

      •   Protect your children from offensive "pop-ups" by setting your browser to block popups, disabling Java on your computer and/or using blocking software. Ad blockers such as AdBlock can also keep kids from seeing banner ads with inappropriate content.

      •   Keep online activities – whether on laptops, tablets or family computers – in common family areas where you can easily monitor what your kids are doing.

    © 2014 MediaSmarts

    Managing Online Spaces

    •   Create a personalized online environment by limiting children to a list of favourite or "bookmarked" sites.

    •   Use kid-friendly search engines or ones with parental controls.

    •   Stick to age-appropriate sites for kids that have strong safety and privacy features.

    •   Talk to older siblings about making sure that younger brothers and sisters aren’t around if they are participating in online activities that are intended for older youth.

      Building Safety Skills

    •   Start conversations about respecting privacy online. Tell your kids not to share information about themselves or their family without asking permission from you first.

    •   Have children use an online nickname if a site encourages them to submit their names to "personalize" the Web content.

    •   Although children ages 5-7 are not likely to be using social networking platforms, they are likely to be playing in virtual worlds that permit socializing between players. This is a good time to start talking to your children about the importance of treating others online with kindness and respect.

    •   Encourage your kids to come to you if they encounter anything online that makes them feel
      uncomfortable or threatened. (Stay calm. If you "freak out" they won't turn to you for help when they need it.)

    Internet Safety Tips by Age: 8-10

    Eight- to ten-year-old kids have a strong sense of family. They are interested in the activities of older kids in their lives; they are starting to develop a sense of their own moral and gender identity; and they tend to be trusting and not question authority.

    Watching online videos, visiting virtual worlds and playing online games are favourite online pastimes at this stage. Children these ages are also starting to use social networking platforms – one-third of students in grades 4-6 have Facebook accounts, despite terms of use agreements that restrict children under the age of 13 from using these sites – making this a good age to establish basic ground rules for socializing online.

    It is at this stage that parents start thinking about cell phones for their kids (half of children in grades 4-6 have access to their own or someone else’s phone on a regular basis).

    8- to 10-year olds:

    •   are curious and interested in discovering new information

    •   lack the critical thinking skills to be online alone

    •   are vulnerable to online marketers who encourage them to give out personal information through surveys, contests and registration forms

    •   may be frightened by realistic portrayals of violence, threats or dangers

    •   begin to communicate with online acquaintances they may have not met in real life

    •   may be influenced by media images and personalities, especially those that appear "cool" or desirable

    •   may use virtual worlds to explore different identities and behaviours

    •   may be exposed to search results with links to inappropriate websites

      Safety Tips General Supervision

    •   Keep online activities – whether on laptops, tablets or family computers – in common family areas where you can easily monitor what your kids are doing.

    •   Investigate Internet-filtering tools as a complement — not a replacement — for parental supervision.

    •   Protect your children from offensive "pop-ups" by setting your browser to block popups, disabling Java on your computer and/or using blocking software. Ad blockers such as AdBlock can also keep kids from seeing banner ads with inappropriate content.

    © 2014 MediaSmarts

    Managing Online Spaces

    •   If your child wants an email account, create a shared family email account as opposed to letting them have accounts of their own.

    •   Preview any websites, games or apps that your child wants to use.

    •   Use kid-friendly search engines or search engines with parental controls, such as KidRex, Fact Monster and

      Kids Click.

    •   Familiarize yourself with parental control features on any video game systems, smartphones, tablets and computers used by your kids.

    •   Only allow your kids to use reputable kids' websites with monitored chat areas.

    •   If your child wants to participate in social networking, have him or her manage a family social networking page. This provides an opportunity for them to develop and practice privacy and safety skills with guidance from parents and siblings.

    •   If the primary reason for giving your child a cell phone is to stay in touch, choose a simple model geared for kids that does not provide Internet access.

      Building Safety Skills

    • Create a list of cell phone and online rules with input from your kids.
    • Talk about the importance of safe and ethical social networking, that includes:
    •   Only adding people you know as friends

    •   Treating people online with kindness and respect

    •   Not using a real photo as your main profile picture

    •   Using a nickname or first name

    •   Not adding apps without permission

    •   Not uploading photos of people without asking first

    •   Not sharing passwords with friends

      (For ideas on rules for social networking, see the tip sheet Social Media Rules)

      Teach your kids to always ask you first before sharing personal information online.

      Talk to your kids about their online friends and activities just as you would about their other activities.

      Talk about healthy sexuality because kids can easily come across online pornography.

      Encourage your kids to come to you if they encounter anything online that makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened. (Stay calm. If you "freak out" they won't turn to you for help when they need it.)

      Protect your children from offensive "pop-ups" by setting your browser to block popups, disabling Java on your computer and/or using blocking software. Ad blockers such as AdBlock can also keep kids from seeing banner ads with inappropriate content.

    I've also linked some additional resources that have a wealth of information on how to keep our children safe on the Internet.

    Internet Safety 101- A Parent's Guide
    Privacy and Internet Safety Concerns
    Internet Safety Advice- Top Picks for ParentsInternet Safety- Tips for Parents
    Online Safety Tools for Parents and Educators

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  • Screen Time - How Much is Too Much?

    Posted by Jason Opremcak on 2/13/2018

    For parents raising kids a decade ago, managing screen time could be as simple as putting the television in the family room and clicking the power button when it was time to move on to another activity. Today, devices are increasingly used in school settings to support learning, and in many other places outside of the home. Plus, the sheer number of apps and devices -- and the fact that many are completely mobile -- can make managing kids’ screen time seem like a nearly impossible feat.

    View a short video with some tips: 5 Steps to a Healthy Media Diet

    The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reccommends that kids' screen time be limited to less than one or two hours per day, and for children younger than two, no screen time at all. But when there are screens all around us, parents can feel overwhelmed and helpless at times. Parents want and need immediate advice on how to raise healthy, happy children -- but rigorous studies of how early childhood development is affected by technology usually take years to complete. Although it seems like screens are everywhere nowadays, a lot of technology is still in its infancy -- the iPad is barely eight years old. As such, there is no quick answer to the question "How much?" Instead, parents may be better off asking "what" and "when".

    "What" - Without a doubt, kids learn from media. They have access 24/7 to almost anything, and that means they are learning more than ever. It's obvious that the content -- "what" they're watching -- is a big deal. Quality content matters -- what they watch is more important than how much they watch. Children learn what to watch by observing the watchers around them -- their parents, guardians, and caretakers. Instead of watching the latest reality show, a healthy media diet might inclue watching science videos, co-playing a trivia game, or video-chatting with a relative living somewhere else.

    "When" - For very young children, in-person social interactions are much better than interactions over screens. Time spent with screens takes away from face-to-face contact, hands-on activities, creative play, and physical movement. These are the building blocks of healthy brain development. Studies have shown that students who go days without looking at a digital screen and instead interact with their peers more are substantially better at reading emotions than others who continue to spend hours each day in front of a digital device. Finding children and young adults willing to give up screen time is a task unto itself, so it is up to adults to figure out when certain media is suitable for them. Co-viewing (or, if possible, previewing) content and educating yourself as best you can about what is developmentally appropriate is the best case scenario.

    The AAP's guidelines that were released in October 2016 allow for some screen time for children younger than 2 and emphasize parental involvement for all kids. In a nutshell:

    • Avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting for children younger than 18 months.
    • If you choose to introduce media to children 18-24 months, find high-quality programming and co-view and co-play.
    • Limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs for children age 2 to 5 years.
    • Create a family media plan with consistent rules and enforce them for older kids.

    The reality is that most families will go through periods of heavy and light media use, but, so long as there's a balance, kids should be just fine. 


    Here are some additional resources about screen time.

    Article: How much screen time is OK for my kid(s)?

    Download: Family Tip Sheet on Managing Screen Time

    Download: Family Media Agreement and Device Contract

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  • Why Do We Need STEM Clubs for Girls?

    Posted by Stacey Linzenbold on 2/6/2018

    Why Do We Need STEM Clubs for Girls?

    What about the boys?  That’s a question many people ask when we advertise our STEM Clubs for Girls.

    Close your eyes. Imagine a scientist. An engineer. An architect. Tech support... That’s why.

    According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, “Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 29% of the science and engineering workforce… (compared to men in the field) there are relatively low shares in engineering (15%) and computer and mathematical sciences (25%).” While males and females tend to perform fairly equally in elementary school in math and science, middle school students (particularly girls) tend to perceive that a STEM student is not someone who looks or acts like her and therefore deems it socially appropriate to be disinterested in those subject areas.

    Women remain underrepresented in the science and engineering workforce, although to a lesser degree than in the past, with the greatest disparities occurring in engineering, computer science, and the physical sciences (NSF, Science & Engineering Indicators, 2016).

    • Female scientists and engineers are concentrated in different occupations than are men, with relatively high shares of women in the social sciences (62%) and biological, agricultural, and environmental life sciences (48%) and relatively low shares in engineering (15%) and computer and mathematical sciences (25%).

    For example:

      • 35.2% of chemists are women;
      • 11.1% of physicists and astronomers are women;
      • 33.8% of environmental engineers are women;
      • 22.7% of chemical engineers are women;
      • 17.5% of civil, architectural, and sanitary engineers are women;
      • 17.1% of industrial engineers are women;
      • 10.7% of electrical or computer hardware engineers are women; and
      • 7.9% of mechanical engineers are women.

    Statistics: (Chapter 3, Figure 3-28)

    That’s the perception we’d like to change here in Wyckoff. Our intention in developing STEM Clubs for Girls is to change the image of what those professions “look like” and the image that comes to mind when someone mentions a mechanical engineer. We want to encourage the notion that females should gain the same type of knowledge of experience with tinkering and building as boys. Dolls and pretend play are still very important, but so is the exposure to robots, LEGO, and building blocks. That starts early.

    If you’re looking for ways for your daughter to gain experience in some of these areas, check out a few of these ideas: Goldiblox, Ozobot, LEGO WeDo, and Girls Who Code, For more information about our STEM Clubs for Girls in Wyckoff, please contact your home school or me at

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  • Healthy Digital Media Use

    Posted by Heather Flanagan on 2/5/2018

    As parents, we are always trying to do what is best for our children and that can be a challenge in this ever-changing digital world. These articles provide manageable stratgies and ideas for raising healthy digital children from birth to teenage years. As parents, you will always be the most important influence on your child. 

    Healthy Digital Media Use at Home

    Kids and Tech: Tips for Parents

    Develop a Family Media Use Plan

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  • What is a Makerspace?

    Posted by Michael Patanella on 1/29/2018

    Makerspace is a place where students can tinker, design, share, learn and create together.  A makerspace includes high tech items (3D printers, sewing machines and cutting machines) or low tech items (Legos, blocks and crafts supplies). These places are used to prepare students for the 21st century skills in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Each school in Wyckoff has a Makerspace.  

    Here are some additional links:

    25 Makerspace Projects for Kids

    4 Super Easy Budget Friendly Projects for Your Makerspace

    357 best Makerspaces for Elementary Schools images on Pinterest

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  • Why is the Design Process Important for Elementary Students

    Posted by Jodi Levine on 1/25/2018

    Today’s world requires teaching in a “diverse” way. Think back to how different our life was 50 years ago? 25 years ago? 10 years ago? You must admit that we have seen many changes in our lifetime. With that said, we really have no clue as to what kind of world our students will be entering in their lifetime. We can only use our imaginations to guess what the world will look like 10, 25 or 50 years from now. Nevertheless, what we do know is that for whatever lies ahead, every student needs to learn how to be good problem-solvers, critical thinkers, have the ability to persevere and know how to collaborate. To achieve each of these goals, our students do need to instill the steps of the “design process” in order to be successful.

    “The Design Process is an approach for breaking down a large project into manageable chunks. Architects, engineers, scientists, and other thinkers use the design process to solve a variety of problems by coming up with solutions until a finished project is ready for display.” But in reality this process is not as clear and orderly as it sounds and that is what makes it so valuable as a teaching method. “Sometimes the steps go in order, but more often than not, things go forward and backward and it is not a linear process. It’s also not uncommon for someone to spend lots of time retracing what's already been done before leaping forward in a spark of inspiration and insight.”

    The Design Process

    Ask/Question- What is the problem?
    Think/Imagine: What are some possible solutions?
    Plan/Design: What will the solution look like?
    Build/Create: Follow your plan and build your solution? Test it out?
    Prove/Redesign: What could make it better? Modify your design.
    Share the solution: How will you present the project to your peers?

    The beauty of the Design Process is the important lesson that sometimes our students fail and that’s alright! “What doesn't work is as crucial an element of the design process as what does work, because failure invites — and even requires — students to do a deeper analysis of their plans, and ultimately to redesign their projects.” This is what learning is all about.

    Below you will find some articles of activities that you can do at home with your children to help instill the Design Process.

    14 Fun Engineering Activities for Kids
    36 Resources for STEM Project Based Learning Activities
    40 STEM Activities for Kids
    Discover Cool Content and Activities

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  • - a great resource for learning to code

    Posted by Harold Olejarz on 1/24/2018

    Sixth graders at Eisenhower are learning to code using The website is a great resource for children and parents of any age who would like to learn more about coding.® is a non-profit dedicated to expanding access to computer science and increasing participation by women and underrepresented minorities. Our vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science, just like biology, chemistry or algebra. organizes the annual Hour of Code campaign which has engaged 10% of all students in the world and provides the leading curriculum for K-12 computer science in the largest school districts in the United States. is supported by generous donors including Microsoft, Facebook, the Infosys Foundation, Google, Omidyar Network, and many more.

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  • Parent Tips for Setting up Kid's iPhones

    Posted by Marc De Block on 1/18/2018

    When a new phone arrives and goes into the hands of your kids, knowing how to set parameters can be difficult.  Check out these resources for tips on setting up parental controls on iphones.

    Common Sense Media - Step-by Step Tips to Set Up Your Kid's iPhone

    Apple- Use Parental Controls on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch


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  • Kids Should Start Coding As Early As Kindergarten

    Posted by Jodi Levine on 12/28/2017

    This year's National "Hour of Code" was celebrated during the week of December 4, 2017- December 10, 2017.  "Coding" or computer programming has become an extremely important skill for all of our students to learn. Every effort is being made to introduce even our youngest children to coding throughout the school year. From Kodable to Scratch, students learn the basics of a new language that could shape their futures. Coding is currently one of the fastest growing occupations today and it's not too early to begin to prepare our children for future success.

    If you would like to take some time and enjoy a coding project or game at home with your child, below please find a wonderful assortment of coding websites.

    Scratch (ages 7+) -
    Code Studio (ages 5+) -
    Kodable (ages 5+)-
    LightBot (ages 8+) -
    Tynker (ages 7+) -
    Bitsbox (ages 8+) -
    Santa Tracker (ages 5+) -
    (Check out Code Lab and Code Boogie)

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  • Google Classroom for Parents

    Posted by Harold Olejarz on 12/12/2017

    Google Classroom is used by many teachers at Eisenhower. It enables teachers to distribute and collect assignments from students. It is also an excellent way for parents to take a look at their childs "digital notebook." The article below outlines how parents and guardians can stay informed about their childs progress.

    Classroom email summaries for guardians

     As a guardian, you can receive email summaries showing your student’s progress in classroom. 

    • You can choose the frequency of the emails, such as daily or weekly. 
    • You can unsubscribe or remove yourself from Classroom at any time.

    Guardian email summaries include:

    • Missing work—Work that’s late at the time the email was sent
    • Upcoming work—Work that’s due today and tomorrow (for daily emails) or work that’s due in the upcoming week (for weekly emails)
    • Class activity—Announcements, assignments, and questions recently posted by teachers
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