Finally got around to conducting the workshop on 'Internet Use in Schools' described in my previous post. It was a "huge hit" (those are a participant's words - but I would have said something similar anyway - one does have a sense for how things have gone down in a workshop.)
Thirty teachers - mostly from elementary school - attended. While they learnt a lot more about google and how it works, gained a good sense for what children below 11-12 years of age are - and are not - capable of in terms of information-gathering from the Internet, as well as issues of 'copy-pasting' and child safety, it was the new tool Trackstar, that I introduced to them, was truly the star of the event. The tool allows a teacher to create a "track" of websites (that s/he would typically have identified prior to, or during, a unit) along with annotations(questions/notes or things for students to keep in mind). The track number is all that the students then need to go to the web page (at home or in school) that contains all the websites (along with annotations) - that come up as frames within the Trackstar site. Safe and productive, especially for elementary school students.
The section on kid safety on the Internet was an eye-opener for teachers. One of them asked me to have a session on this subject in June with the parents of her incoming 6th grade class. The teachers also agreed to make 'OneKey' - the kidsafe version of google that I made them try out - the homepage for all computers in the school labs. I have also decided to make a "Search" link on the IE toolbars in school that will link to 'onekey'.
An 'inspired' science teacher wrote me the same evening about having created a "track" for her 7th grade students, on the topic of environmental science. Felt good to get that email - felt like I had accomplished something that day...