Ed Tech Ideas

Tech Integration for Busy Teachers

Tag Archives: Internet Safety

Password Generating with Wolfram Alpha

I read a recent post from Digital Inspiration about using Wolfram Alpha to generate strong passwords, and it just so happened to come at a time when I was teaching my 3-5 graders about the importance of computer security and password creation. For the past couple of years, I’ve shown my students the video Secure Passwords by Common Craft before having them create their own passwords, and there is always a few students who have trouble coming up with a password that works for them. Enter Wolfram Alpha. Students can do a search of “password of 8 letters” and a password will be created with a phonetic form that will make it easier to remember (see below). 

If you want to make the password easier or stronger, students can click on “Use Specific Password Rules Instead” and allow special characters so that the password becomes more complex.

This will give you passwords like:

which, admittedly, are not the best passwords for elementary school students, but going through this process is a good practice for students, nonetheless. For those students struggling with creating passwords, they can play around with the password rule allowances, and create an easier password with just lower-case letters and numbers. Delving deeper, within Wolfram Alpha, you can click on any of the passwords that have been generated and find out how long it would take a computer to crack the code. For example, the password nJ$+[pub would take a computer 352.9 years to enumerate (assuming 100,000 passwords/second), therefore, this would be considered a very weak password with a total score of 48. Doing a search for “password of 10 characters,” delivered 3phZaejT7k, which is a strong password, taking a computer 55,456 years to break.


Cyber Safety Wall Wisher

Here are 76 rules my 5th grade class came up with this morning for staying safe online. I use Wallwisher as part of a culminating activity to our internet safety unit.

If you’ve never used wallwisher, go there now and sign up for a free account. It’s a great, easy to use tool that can be used in so many ways.

Engage Students! ActivExpression Voting Devices

For a recent lesson with 4th and 5th graders on the subject of Internet Safety, I pulled out our ActivExpression (voting) devices and used a pre-made Promethean flip-chart that I downloaded from Promethean Planet. The students absolutely love using the voting devices and the discussion that ensues about each topic is amazing. The thing I like about the devices is that every student is an active participant and even the shy kids will “voice” their opinions. The graphs which can be embedded in the flip-chart, contain a wealth of instant information which show patterns that would be missed without the use of the voting devices.

Following are a few of the questions asked and answers the students came up with.

Which type of communication tool do you use the most online?

A. email
B. instant messaging
C. social network (Facebook, Myspace)
D. blog
E. other

This is the reality of today’s students. Even though 13 is minimum age of Facebook, over 26% of this particular 5th grade class uses social media as their main source of online communication.

Have you ever felt uncomfortable or unsafe while you were online?

A. Yes
B. No

The discussion that followed this question shined light upon some of experiences children have online, including: Weird emails from strangers; pop-up ads that take them to different sites; abusive/inappropriate comments on Youtube; virus attached via email; chat rooms in game sites; inappropriate images via Google image search.

When you are online at home are you usually:

A. working by yourself away from adults
B. working with a parent
C. working alone with a parent nearby

I was actually a little surprised by this number as I thought that more students would either be working with a parent, or with one nearby. The fact that almost 40% of 9 and 10 year old students are online away from parents is alarming.

As mentioned before, the discussion and aha moments that surfaced because of the devices was priceless. The students took away a lot more from this lesson because they were active participants and had a voice in the conversation.

Nuts and Bolts of using ActivExpression Voting Devices

Device Registration

The first step before you can start polling students is to register your devices. View the how-to video below to learn about this.

Express Poll

Sometimes, you’ll want something quick and easy. Making an express poll is the way to go.

Making a Quiz

To create a quiz in ActivInspire, follow these steps:

Have you had experiences using voting devices? What has worked well and what have been some of the challenges?

Here’s a quick-start tutorial to help you out.

Internet Safety

I’ve posted some links that I use in my internet safetyinternet_safety units. I’m a firm believer in talking vs. blocking. Kids will inevitably stumble upon inappropriate material at some point. Our job as educators is to give students the skills to know what to do when that happens. 

With my third graders I use the Faux Paw the Techno Cat movie which opens up a great discussion about what to say and what to keep private online. The kids really respond to the Looney Toons style animation and music. I then have them type out as many things they know about being safe online. I also use Disney’s Surfswell Island (which keeps moving URLs and of this writing, I cannot locate). 

For my fourth and fifth grade classes, I use a combination of Brainpop videos and activities and some youtube videos created by middle school students. I feel the students really think about it more and the message hits home harder when it is delivered by their peers.

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