Thursday, January 8, 2009

When Web Pages are Blocked

Before Christmas my students and staff spent a few fun filled afternoon periods playing the web version of Deal No Deal, which was an exciting and educational activity. While playing students worked on partner assisted scanning (I would move the mouse over the suitcases in a 3 second scan for them to pick suitcases with a wireless switch), greater than/less than, and communication skills including answering yes/no questions. They also loved showing their allegiances to various staff by choosing whose advice to take. We tallied up who made the best deals and talked about the value of money. Eventually a friend even made some great Deal No Deal boards for us to use on Boardmaker SDP while playing the game.

Today we returned from a great community based instruction trip about 35 minutes late (due to snow and a pizza that took 35 minutes to be served) and the paraprofessionals in the room decided that they wouldn't mind giving up their breaks if they could play Deal No Deal with the students (which meant I could fill in the data sheets and write daily notes home).

The only catch was that our host school now blocks the Deal No Deal site, which we didn't know until we tried to play. This isn't a huge loss, there are plenty of other fun educational activities we can do, but it does lead one to question why certain web filter decisions are made. Other than my class playing three times was there a problem in the building with kids playing Deal No Deal?

What do you do when sites are blocked in your school?

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  1. Kate,

    We're going through a similar process at my school right now. For years, we have had a least restrictive filtering policy. In the past month the filtering has become incredibly strict. I was finally able to convince administration to consider involoving classroom teachers not just tech people (some of whom have never been in the classroom) in filtering decisions. The first meeting didn't go well, they basically said, "we hear you, but we're not changing." I have another meeting next week, hopefully they'll be more receptive this time around.

    Please keep us posted about filtering decisions in your district.

  2. It used to be that the filter was the same across the district, which meant that the same sites that needed to be filtered in the elementary schools were filtered in the high school. If a site came up "denied" that I thought I would use a few times, I would ask if that site could be unblocked. Often, though, I was just looking up possible lesson plans that happened to be hosted on an aol or angelfire site and I didn't bother. After a year of complaints, it is a little better this year, but we still can't download things on our own or install software on our own.

  3. When there is a site blocked and I want to use it I ask the technology folks to unblock it for me. They usually have no problem doing that.

  4. I've had similar experiences. Its frustrating when sites like ICT Games are blocked just because it includes the word game. A phone call or two or three usually unblocks but sometimes you don't find out a site is blocked until you go to use it in the lesson.My own blog comes up with a warning that I will be monitored !

  5. Our district has a monthly password to unblock websites. I have to get it from my school's office manager. Then, I use it to override the district's filtering. I specify a certain period of time for the unblocking, and I supervise my students' use of the Internet. That way I reduce the chance of them accessing inappropriate content on the Internet.

  6. If I've found a site at home that is blocked at school, I've sometimes found that I can reach it by googling.


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