It’s starting to warm up and we are getting a great source of vitamin D these days. As we head to the National PTA convention this year I would like to you to review the resolutions and bylaws that are being presented and let me know what your thoughts are. It is very important to me to appropriately represent our state membership on all of our matters.
My contact info is firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like us to take comments with us.
We will be making a state memory board to be displayed at the national convention. I would ask you to please send me pictures, via email, of the events you would like to highlight so they can be included. I know all of you are doing awesome things in your local units and this is our opportunity to show the entire country.
One last thing, please remember to send in your unused membership cards and dues payment to the state office to close out the year which ends June 30th. Thank you for your service.
Here to serve,
Matthew John Rodriguez
Illinois PTA President
Technology and the internet are integral to our daily lives these days, and just like we teach our children to be careful and good citizens in the real world, we need to teach them to do the same in the online world. For adults who are less tech-savvy than their kids, that can be a challenge. National PTA has partnered with LifeLock for several years to provide The Smart Talk to help parents have conversations with their children about technology and online behavior.
This week, Google announce the launch of Be Internet Awesome, a new interactive way for kids to learn how to be smart, positive, and kind online. Developed in collaboration with online safety experts like Family Online Safety Institute, the Internet Keep Safe Coalition, and ConnectSafely, Be Internet Awesome focuses on five key lessons to help kids navigate the online world with confidence:
- Be Internet Smart: Share with care
- Be Internet Alert: Don’t fall for fake
- Be Internet Strong: Secure your secrets
- Be Internet Kind: It’s cool to be kind
- Be Internet Brave: When in doubt, talk it out
To engage kids in a fun and interactive way, Google created an online game called Interland. The game is free and web-based, so it can be played in any browser on a computer, tablet, or phone. In the game, kids travel to four lands to battle hackers, phishers, oversharers, and a bullies while practicing the skills they need to be good digital citizens.
Resources for Adults
But the Be Internet Awesome initiative isn’t just for kids. Google worked with the Internet Keep Safe Coalition and educators from across the country to create a classroom curriculum that brings the five principles of the program into the classroom.
There are resources for families as well. To help you talk with your child about online safety, there is the #BeInternetAwesome Challenge, a video series that makes talking about online safety easier for families. In addition, there is the Be Internet Awesome Pledge that families can use to reinforce the importance of being smart, alert, strong, kind, and brave online.
As summer begins, it may seem like your child is now staring at a screen 24/7. The Safe, Smart & Social blog had seven digital safety experts who are also parents provide their best advice for teaching kids to be productive with their online time. Those are:
- Teach self-moderation: Learning to control your screen time is an essential skill these days, and one even adults struggle with.
- Don’t allow devices at the dinner table: A family dinner is more than just sharing meal, it’s also about sharing stories and experiences.
- Block distractions: There are many browser apps that will block Facebook, Instagram, and more so your child (or you!) can be productive when you need to be.
- Show how screen time can be productive: Teach your child time management through the Pomodoro technique (25 minutes of work, 5 minutes of break, scaled as age appropriate) and show them how online tools can be used for working together on a group project as well as socializing.
- Lead by example: Don’t spend all your time on your phone as well, and consider providing the WiFi password only after chores have been done.
- Create a screen time log: Have your kids create a log of the sites they visit and time spent at each (or check their browser history at the end of the day).
- Set weekday screen time limits: Set limits on screen time and expectations for what must be done before getting online, with extra screen time as something to be earned.
Be sure to read the full article to find out more about each of these strategies.
Photo © 2011 by Jessica Fless-Hill under Creative Commons license.
As we look to close and finalize the year, I would like to thank all your teachers, principals, administrators, and you for your hard work and collaboration. Every day it is important to work towards a better tomorrow. If we wake up each day and find one way to make life better, then we can progress towards lives filled with happiness, hope, and results. Remember that our children are watching us always and learning from our behavior. As our children’s first teacher, through us they learn how to interact with others, how to socialize, how to give, and how to take. I encourage you to work on maintaining a good balance between work and fun. Often, we forget to slow down and enjoy what is around us. I can tell you from experience that the years that our children are young go by VERY, VERY quickly. By taking time to do even the small things (i.e. take a walk, go to the park, go out for ice cream, etc.) we impact and reaffirm our love and commitment to our children that they very much starve for.
Also, please note that the House has passed a new funding formula bill, SB1, and it is on the way to the Governor’s desk. Some points of information and reference material that you can read to get more information regarding this can be found at http://fundingilfuture.org/. FundingIllinois’ Future is a coalition of more than 200 school districts, school superintendents, community- and faith-based organizations working toward fixing Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation school funding formula with the goal of giving every student in Illinois the education they deserve.
Finally, I know all of you have heard over and over about the Illinois budget and funding issues. Many were disappointed of the outcome of the schedule the last day of the 100th General Assembly Spring Session on May 31st. However, the work is NOT done! Our legislative team and leaders have given you ways to advocate and I urge you not to let your legislators off the hook. Please contact any of our State Board Members if you would like additional resources or training on advocacy. We as Illinois families and constituents deserve better so keep contacting them about the importance and gravity of the issue. Tell them how it personally affects you. They use those stories as they testify on the floor.
As always and in my final 30 days, I humbly serve to continue a smooth transition and appreciate ALL that you do to support our mission.
Here to serve,
Matthew John Rodriguez
Illinois PTA President