Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Facebook Session - "Welcome To Their World" Opens What Needs To Be An Ongoing Dialogue With Parents

We had a great turnout of over 60 parents to our first in a yearlong series of sessions that we will be running on technology topics.  Our initial discussion centered on Facebook, the social media site most preferred among our students.  To start the conversation off, we presented the YouTube video shown below of an interview with a New Jersey middle school Principal last spring who proposed blocking Facebook and other social media platforms from all students.  Lisa Velmer Nielsen, a member of my Personal Learning Network (PLN), posted a response right on the screen with captions that propose the alternative point of view.

It is stated in our school's mission statement that prepare students for "responsible citizenship" and we agree strongly that one of the primary jobs of schooling is to reinforce this. With this in mind, it is impossible to teach responsible citizenship in this day and age without a strong focus on digital citizenship. In fact our first learning expectation is "to employ current technology to investigate, create, communicate, and produce."  Again, to truly accomplish this goal, we need to embrace current technology and not remove it because it makes us uncomfortable.

Following the video, Dennis Villano walked our parents through a series of slides on Facebook Privacy settings (See below).

Finally, we spent some time answering parent questions on Facebook.  During the discussion, we discussed Screen Retriever, an on-line resource that parents can check out to monitor their children on-line.  Screen Retriever provides a free 7-day trial for parents to check out their product.  

We will continue our parent technology series in November and we would love to hear your feedback on other topics that you would like to see discussed.  We are also considering running sessions during the school day for those who would be interested. As always, your feedback is appreciated and needed.


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed attending your very informative Facebook Workshop last evening. I thought it was wonderful to see so many Burlington parents taking a proactive role in their children's online lives. As principal you are modeling parental behavior as well as children's behavior. The more parents are involved and embracing their children's online life, the less we will see incidents of inappropriate usage of the computer and be able to focus on the amazing opportunities and positives of the computer, including social networking sites. As principal you have chosen to be a leader and tap in to this great resource and for that you are to be commended.


  2. WSJ Article on Face book Privacy issues: also
    A WSJ investigation into online privacy found that popular children's websites install more tracking technologies on computers than top sites aimed at adults.

  3. Principal Larkin,

    I think this is just fantastic! I love how you are taking a proactive approach to helping parents understand the value of social media and technology integration. Too often I think we are reactive, and in order to really get things going we need to be ahead of the curve and proactive. We are in a new world, and consequently it is essential we figure out new ways to harness the outside potential of social media and technology integration. Great job, and please continue helping to push the technology transition which will allow our kids to "power up" before going to school, rather than "powering down."

  4. Thanks Justin and Mrs. Kempf for the positive comments. I am fortunate to be the high school Principal in a school where there are such talented educators and a supportive community that share a commitment to ensure that our students are prepared for their post secondary goals.

  5. I am one of the proactive educators who is very grateful to be working in Burlington. I'm excited to be learning new technological skills. My students help me daily maneuver the mechanics. Burlington has always been an incredibly supportive community, for which I'm also grateful.

  6. I found the Facebook presentation very informative with practical information I could use right away. Last spring I happen to speak with Dr. Conti at the 8th fundraisng walk regarding my concerns with Facebook. At that time, Dr. Conti spoke of doing informative talks for parents. I was thrilled to see this technology workshop offered this fall. Thank you Mr. Larkin for your time and your obvious concern for BHS students and families.
    Mary Beth Arcaro

  7. Thank you for sharing this! I hope to speak with my administration and discuss how we can use this and present it with our middle school parents.