Tag Archives: vocabulary

This year, our Acceptable Use Policy was renamed our Respectable Use Policy

(presentation designed by Don Buckley)

This year we are saying RIP to our AUP to make room for our RUP. 

Back in 2006 when I started at The School at Columbia University (it was entering its 4th year!), the Technology Department strove to create a simple and clear Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) that was 10 items long. We review this AUP with each grade at the beginning of every school year, The kids invent a million what if? scenarios, and it’s equally hilarious and exhausting to counter them all. After we review the policy point by point for 20-30 minutes, students have to sign the AUP and take it home to get a parent/guardian’s signature as well. Only after they return the signed form to me are they allowed to use the machines we provide for them. We’re a 1:1 school: Child in grades K-2 are assigned an iPad and children in grades 3-8 are assigned a laptop – with overlap as needed for projects.

This year, Don Buckley (@donbuckley) decided to rename our AUP, so we are now calling it our Respectable Use Policy (RUP). It’s not just semantics, shemantics. We want our community to fully appreciate, internalize, support, and ultimately respect our policy and not just accept it. This is an example of how we use/reinforce a consistent vocabulary for our student body. (In my case, I reinforce this vocabulary in a very shrill and repetitive way.)

For the record, we do not filter. We use Columbia University’s network, and they do not filter. This means that we ask/expect/hope/pray members of our community will make good choices. Our RUP is below:

The School’s Respectable Use Policy

The School’s students will use its technology facilities in the spirit of The School’s code of conduct and in a responsible and legal manner, following the rules listed below:


  • I will always use the computer with consideration and respect for others and myself.
  • I will not eat food or drink beverages while working on the computers.
  • I will be responsible for my computer’s whereabouts at all times. If I am not using my computer, I will return it to a charging station

Email and Communication

  • I will use electronic mail only for school-related purposes. I will never use abusive or profane language in public or private messages.
  • I will not access my personal e-mail account, social networking sites, or personal instant messaging software from any school computer.
  • I will not use others’ names or passwords.


  • I will ask a teacher for permission before I download or install anything from the Internet.
  • I will keep my network and electronic mail account passwords private.


  • I will use teacher-approved software and apps when given permission at appropriate times.
  • I will not illegally copy or download software or media (games, MP3s, etc.).


  • I will not shop online or make any purchases using a school computer.
  • I will not visit inappropriate websites. Teachers and administrators will determine appropriateness.

I understand that failure to follow these rules when using The School’s technology, whether at The School or off-campus, will result in suspension of my technology privileges and/or additional disciplinary action.

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Just found out about the app Masterpiece Me!


Download Masterpiece Me! here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/masterpiece-me/id428061219?mt=8

I just found out about Masterpiece Me! from another Technology Integrator at my school, Andrew Gardner (@agardnahh), who works with grades 3-5.

In his email to me, Andrew sent a pic of himself inserted into a Frieda Kahlo portrait and included the following text: Hahaha, your photoshop project with 6th grade is better, but this sure is fun and simple. I wonder if the producers got liscensing??

I’m hoping/assuming that the paintings included in Masterpiece Me! are all in the public domain.

I teach a Photoshop project for middle school students where I show the basics of Photoshop, but I also discuss media literacy and copyright. The past couple of years, students layered themselves into a Renaissance painting as part of an integrated study of the Renaissance in English, Social Studies, Science, Spanish, Music.

This year, we spent three days alternating between learning how to navigate Photoshop and discussing fair use, copyright, public domain, Shepard Fairey’s Hope painting, and the Mona Lisa.

A brief overview of the Photoshop project is here: http://karenblumberg.com/minorpieces-of-the-renaissance

My copyright lesson is here: http://karenblumberg.com/using-the-mona-lisa-and-shepard-fairey-to-dis

A quick how-to Photoshop slide show is here: http://karenblumberg.com/these-are-the-incomplete-directions-for-my-6t


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Eighth graders formed small reading groups on our in-house Elgg social network to discuss *To Kill a Mockingbird*

Eve Becker, 8th Grade English, is one of the most interesting people, gifted writers, and talented teachers I’ve had the pleasure to know. She actually gets kids to love reading and she inspires them to dig into the words, text, tenor of each piece like a surgeon. Every time I enter her classroom, I learn something new.

She (and I) are reading To Kill A Mockingbird with the 8th graders. This is the 50th Anniversary of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning classic. TKAM ranks as one of my favorite books ever, and while the last time I read it was over 10 years ago, I’m excited to read it along with the kids and participate in their online discussions.

After briefly discussing the best platform for the students to collaborate online (wiki, Google Site, Drupal, WordPress…), Eve chose to use our in-house Elgg social network. As a school, we try to reinforce how to use technology academically, respectfully, and responsibly, and we have a variety of tools at our disposal including The Social Network, where we show students how to behave in our protected spaces and hope that they continue to make good choices online when left to their own devices.

She divided the 8th graders into small reading groups of 3-4 people, and each member of the group helped populate their group’s space on The Social Network to include:

1. A bookmark from the full-class group to their small reading group

2. An avatar/icon to represent their group

3. A Group Discussion space where the students address teacher-led discussion questions like:

Chapter Nine: Why doesn’t Scout tell anyone but Uncle Jack the real reason she beat up Francis? What does this demonstrate about Scout?

4. A Group Blog section where students post their own questions/thoughts about the book and respond to each other’s posts.

Chapter 8: Do you think it was racists for Jem and Scout to build a black snowman?

5. A Page for Vocabulary terms where students follow a follow 5-step format.

NOTE: the page itself consists of the guidelines for adding vocabulary terms (see below), while students actually contribute to the page via the Comments section. Thus there exists a timestamp with their name each time they add a word to the page. This is great for individual accountability even as they working as a group.

1. Word

2. Make an educated guess (using context clues)

3. Look it up

4. Part of Speech

5. Make up your own sentence 

please specify the page/chapter where you located the word

6. A Page for Quotations where students write a quote, why they chose it, and page number.

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