Digital Citizenship in Schools, 3rd Ed. Ch. 4 Reflections

Ch. 4 Professional Development Activities in Digital Citizenship:

Ironically I am planning PD with fellow teachers on Digital Citizenship and online safety, so these activities are extremely helpful. I did an in-service session for 3rd/4th grade teachers over a year ago and at the time, could only get colleagues talking, so I passed out the brochure I made for students on the nine elements and put them into random groups. First they went over the elements and discussed what they meant. Next I mixed the groups up and had everyone discuss which elements were most important for the ages we worked with. It was interesting to listen to the discussions, because each group brought up such important considerations. It became clear that there was really no way we could isolate just a few elements for our grade levels.

The bingo activity struck me right away and I made a version that I could use with colleagues but also with students. I did a Google drawing with the elements and then to the outside circles with descriptors. The circles can then be dragged and dropped on top of the “board” as a sort.

 Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 4.11.20 PM

The appreciation blog is a nice idea as well. I’m thinking Padlet might be a great alternative so that we could curate content to share ideas too. Like a “brag” board… we could take photos, video clips, and write comments in praise.  (Of course this would be great for students too!) Podcasting could be incorporated as well. I envision interviewing a teacher for a few minutes about something great that happened that day.

Perhaps the best way to get teachers “Tweeting” would be to show them how tracking a few hashtags, from 50 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom. I love how I can organize tags I follow using TweetDeck. #digcit is my newest addition!  It is here that I found the Teacher Self Assessment for Digital Citizenship!

For use of technology in education, I’ve done a presentation called “Put it on a screen…and readers are hooked!” Those I’ve shared it with have been very receptive to the variety of ideas I mash up. While some of the ideas are pretty simple, the focus is to see technology as a tool to access information and promote digital literacy.

While all of the ideas were pretty terrific, the one thing that really stands out is…when? When do we do this? It seems that getting staff together to collaborate and build on ideas is virtually non-existent. The PD I am about to provide is optional and is the week after we are out of school. Very few people have signed up to come. Until it is made a priority, time to do this is the biggest challenge we face.

Digital Citizenship in Schools, 3rd Ed. Ch. 2

Ch 2:

The nine elements are the core to understanding. To help myself, students, and parents understand each better I made a “brochure”: (after reading the 2nd edition of the book)

This really helped me organize the information and condense it, as I work with 3rd/4th graders and parents appreciate the simplification. While each element is not “simple”, the overview helped initiate dialog. I did a “video lesson” on research basics and digital citizenship for students but I’m looking to revise it to make it way more interesting.

I had the opportunity to open dialog about digital citizenship with colleagues in a few ways: during a district in-service training and at a few regional and state level presentations. Basically I introduced the elements and got people mixing and talking about them. It was a great way to both increase awareness and to get teachers thinking about how they can mindfully embed digital citizenship in natural ways every day.

When and where should Digital Citizenship be discussed?

I believe we need to integrate digital citizenship in every aspect of our work with students. Anytime a student uses a device, s/he is connecting to the digital community and as such educators need to ensure that they practice “REP” (respect, educate, and protect). As an elementary teacher, I know the importance of reinforcing good citizenship in all aspects of a student’s day; from why we should walk quietly down the hall (to respect other classrooms of students hard at work) to why we should follow playground rules (to educate students on the need for safety when only a few adults are monitoring large groups of students) to why we cannot enjoy snacks on the school bus (to protect students from choking hazards).  Elementary teachers instinctively practice REP aspects but need to purposely educate themselves on how to integrate REP when it comes to digital citizenship. We can do it easily and effectively; for example, I teach my young students about how they should always be sure an adult is nearby when then they enter a digital world. In the classroom, that is me, but who is close at home? And why? Well, would they to a movie without an adult? Why not? Would they swim in a public pool without an adult? Why not? Students need to see the digital world in the same ways they view their physical world.

Respect Educate Protect
Etiquette Literacy Rights/Responsibilities
Access Communication Security
Law Commerce Health & Wellness


How do these ideas fit within Common Core, etc.

The obvious answer here as an ELA teacher would be in regards to research, doing digital work, and ways to communicate and collaborate. However as we help our students see the many ways digital tools can improve and enhance our workflow, digital citizenship permeates any standard. If we view our digital tools as just that… tools…then I think it is an obvious integration. I believe that at the heart of the Common Core are those 21st century skills of communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. When digital tools become the means for achieving this, then digital citizenship should be embedded in every lesson; whether it be direct or indirect, explicitly taught or reinforced.

Digital Citizenship in Schools 3rd edition

I’m excited to join the discussions on Digital Citizenship in Schools so I’m going to share my reflections here too (as well as on the discussion blog)…

Introduction: Digital natives vs. digital immigrants; natives have grown up digital and seem to instinctively understand it whereas immigrants have not grown up with digital tools and don’t seem to use them as instinctively.  (I would argue that a bit…My students may be natives, but often I am more comfortable than they are with tech. Maybe that is because I’ve had more experience using technology than they have had in their short lives?)

Teachers ASSUME students as natives already know/understand everything.  As an early childhood educator and gifted specialist, I know the importance of NOT making this assumption. Students need to be explicitly taught things.  Things we easily take for granted. Teachers should NEVER assume a student “just knows” something.

Effective tech use often means the need to find a common ground because even if a user is comfortable they may not be appropriate.

I once heard someone say “the Internet has a dark side”. I couldn’t agree more; but the benefits far outweigh those risks in my opinion. I try to teach my 3rd/4th graders to stay away from the dark side; hopefully they will never encounter it, but if they do they need to know how to react.  It serves no purpose to pretend it doesn’t exist. Shelter and protect…absolutely! But empower students to know what to do when something unexpected and “bad” comes up. We don’t have to teach them using examples but we need to be sure that they have some strategies to use should it happen. We practice fire drills monthly hoping we never have an emergency.  Maybe we need “how to avoid the dark side” drills too?


Ch 1:

The history: Communication with the masses started with the printing press. From there it grew with the telephone and television. And then there was the Internet…followed by mobile computing. With earlier technologies, it seems we had time to really set standards for use. There were controls and safeguards in place. For instance print could be monitored before the masses could read it. The telephone essentially was more private with limited users accessing (that is initially only 2 connections). Television programming had to be approved.  Yet I feel as our society as a whole started to become more “desensitized”, standards dropped.  When I was growing up, you didn’t hear curse words and “sex” was not portrayed on screen.  Now it is commonplace and no one seems to notice.  We are desensitized. (In my opinion).  So…

Why is understanding the history/background important?

Well knowing our origins is important. The social implications of how rapidly mass communication has spread is critical. We have gained access to information and can communicate at an astounding rate, yet our filters and controls have not caught up. I would even argue they just do not exist. Maybe if we better understand the history of communication (or at least teach our students about it) they can better understand the implications of the “power” a device has. I think about the things I have to worry about my students having access to. That access wasn’t available with earlier technologies because standards and controls were in place and exercised. We monitored what we put out there for the masses.  Today the filters seem non-existent unless we consciously work to put them there. So understanding history can help us understand the implications of using devices. We have problems today that didn’t exist in the past…earlier technologies brought communication to the masses but on a smaller scale with more control of content published. Today most people have access to the information as well as access to the content of the information put out. It seems that through history as more people started to gain access to information, more people started to have the power to put information out there. This then makes it the responsibility of individuals to decide what is valid, accurate, and appropriate instead of having others make that determination for us. People are more than just consumers of information…now they can all produce it. With this power comes great responsibility…

Clearly family dynamics and communities have changed because of technology. We would like to think that people will do the right thing, but they have to know what that is; who makes the judgement call? Who teaches this? Well we would hope it starts at home, but when devices are often used as replacements for “teachers” then the free flow of information (good and bad) is in charge. Technology used as “babysitters”…yeah that is a real problem.

“The hope is that how we act in the real world should be the same as in the online world.”  I would agree, but with the ability to essentially be “anonymous” online, people can and do take on different personas. While I believe it is important to always treat others the way you expect to be treated, I think that keeping “digital citizenship” as a separate term is important. It seems there are many issues unique to being a digital citizen.

This all means that we need to educate everyone (not just students) on how to act with technology! For years, I focused on teaching young students just how to be respectful, caring, and responsible members of society. That now extends to being members of digital societies. I love digital citizenship REP’s: Respect, Educate, Protect! That is what we need more of… we need to save ourselves from ourselves I think. Mobile computing makes it so easy to be impulsive.  It often means people act before they think! As an educator my goal is to help students prepare to be future citizens and technology is just part of that future.

What are other aspects of student interaction that are important to this topic, and perhaps not directly related to technology?

I think it is critical we teach students to communicate. Period. Whether it be face to face or virtually, there are basics we need to cover. Clearly treat others as you would want to be treated. Show kindness, compassion, and patience. What does it look like? What does it sound like? This includes face to face issues such as body language, tone, volume, stress, inflection; that is what goes into a verbal exchange. Just as the iCitizen project discovered we need to “humanize the person on the other side of the screen”. It is too easy to forget that, and for our young students, it is way to abstract for them to grasp. This is why when I integrate discussion in my classroom, I model it heavily. I show what it looks like and sounds like in every way. If this means two students are sitting right next to each other having a digital discussion, then we do it. Humanizing communication in every way possible makes it tangible and concrete for learners. Even ‘humanizing’ a face to face conversation can be done by teaching students how to make eye contact with each other and how to try to build upon what a person says instead of focusing on what you want to say while someone else is talking. These are real skills that have to be directly taught, modeled and practiced. Doing it in conjunction with digitally communicating makes it more ‘humanized’ as well.