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Teaching Digital Citizenship in 2017

Teaching Digital Citizenship in 2017

Digital citizenship is often cited as the fastest changing subject in the K-12 curriculum. Thinking back 10 years to 2007, when I first began rolling out a digital citizenship program for my district, we were using iSafe, a curriculum that focused on keeping students safe from others. “Stranger danger” was a big concern, with much media coverage – and a bit of hype.

By 2008, we were concerned not only with keeping students safe from others, but also with keeping them safe from each other and from themselves. By now both the federal government and our state government had started issuing legal mandates, including the federal E-Rate/CIPA requirements. Through a district task force (which had morphed from the Internet Safety Task Force to the Digital Citizenship Task Force), we made a commitment that all students would be firmly grounded in what it means to be active, contributing (digital) citizens in all the communities to which they belong, within and beyond the school day. The Task Force agreed that out of multiple topics related to digital citizenship, we would focus on four themes: Taking a stand against cyberbullying, building a positive digital footprint, protecting privacy, and respecting intellectual property.

Elk Grove Unified's digital citizenship logo

We encouraged – and then required – that all schools teach digital citizenship, using whatever resources and teaching practices worked best for their school community and culture. For those who preferred having ready-to-go lessons at their fingertips, we recommended Common Sense Media’s k-12 curriculum. We even provided a suggested scope-and-sequence – which, to avoid an overload of content, did not include Common Sense Media’s media literacy lessons.

Times have changed.  In an age of “fake news,” media literacy should be embedded across the curriculum.

Fortunately, excellent FREE resources are available. In addition to Common Sense Media’s robust curriculum, Google, in partnership with iKeepSafe, Family Online Safety Institute, and ConnectSafely, has just released Be Internet Awesome, an interactive curriculum for grades 3-5, which includes Don’t Fall for Fake as one of five core topics.

Google's Interland Graphic

I had the good fortune to be invited to Google last Monday to join a team of Googlers and Google Certified Innovators to explore the Be Internet Awesome package and to participate in highly interactive panel and group discussions on the critical need to be teaching digital citizenship skills in the 2017-2018 school year and, as you can see from the video below, the importance of including parents in the conversations.

At the heart of the Be Internet Awesome curriculum is Interland, a “playful browser-based game that makes learning about digital safety interactive and fun.” Award-winning YA author John Green, has even joined the Google team and recorded messages for the Be Internet Awesome Challenge, a video series aimed at igniting conversations in the classroom and at home too on what it means to be smart, alert, strong, kind, and brave online; in other words, how to “BeInternetAwesome.”

As we head into the 2017-2018 school year, I want to acknowledge my appreciation for Common Sense Media, the Google team, and other national organizations, including:

for scrambling to find much needed resources for teaching digital citizenship in a “post-truth” era.

 

Teaching about Intellectual Property – #HyperDoc style

Teaching about Intellectual Property – #HyperDoc style

I love the many ways teachers in my district – and probably your district too – are guiding student-centered conversations  about building positive digital footprints, protecting online privacy, and confronting cyberbullying. A shout out to Common Sense Media, iKeepSafe, and Netsmartz for the wealth of free resources and lessons you provide to schools on these key digital citizenship topics.

There is a fourth digital citizenship topic that many teachers are increasingly recognizing the need to address: intellectual property. By 5th grade, most students have been warned about the consequences of plagiarism, a conversation that is typically repeated throughout their middle and high school days. While plagiarism is certainly an important topic, in a digital age, copyright,  fair use, and Creative Commons also need to be included in the conversations.  Given how easy it has become to download, copy, remix, and upload online content, students need to have an understanding of both their intellectual property rights and responsibilities.

Elk Grove USD’s 4 digital citizenship themes – BY NC SA

As a co-director of my district’s Digital Citizenship initiative and co-curator of the Digital ID project, I am always seeking teacher-friendly/student-friendly resources on intellectual property. I also facilitate district-wide and national workshops ( e.g., CUE and ISTE) to help teachers understand that copyright is different from plagiarism and that fair use and Creative Commons are also options for our students.

Digital ID Project’s 4 digital citizenship foci – BY NC SA

Based on questions from workshop participants, two years ago I created Can I Use That? A Guide for Teaching about Creative Commons. I always review the guide prior to a workshop to check if I need to update any information or add new resources.  This year, in preparation for the March CUE Conference, I’m adding a #HyperDocs* lesson that invites students to delve into copyright, flex their fair use muscles, and license their own creations via Creative Commons. So here it is: Can I Use That? Exploring Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons.

Hope you can join me and the fabulous Jane Lofton for our CUE Can I Use That? session (Saturday, 8:00)! If you have questions about the lesson or suggestions for updates to the Guide, please respond with a comment or contact me @GailDesler.

*#HperDocs is a term invented by @LHighfill.

Common Sense Media + iKeepSafe = Awesome Parent Night

Common Sense Media + iKeepSafe = Awesome Parent Night

Last week I had the privilege of representing Common Sense Media at a Parent Night in a neighboring school district. The topic was supporting children in the responsible use of social media.  I was the first speaker and was allotted 15 minutes to introduce parents to the wealth of resources Common Sense Media offers parents, starting with an opening 30-second video:

…and then moving on to share a quick sampling of:

  • Video Reviews (for movies, TV,books, games, apps) – Rated for age, quality and learning, based on child development guidelines.
  • Parent Concerns Center – Advice and resources to help parents take control of children’s digital lives.
  • Parent Advice Videos – Ranges from “What Is Instagram?” to “How to Manage Preschoolers’ App Time
  • Connecting Families – Great ideas and guides to help parents plan social media events at their children’s schools. Love the guide for hosting a student-led panel!

I love it when a presenting opportunity also turns into a learning opportunity. In addition to Common Sense Media, the PTA had also invited a second speaker: Marsali Hancock, founder and CEO of iKeepSafe. I first heard Marsali speak three years ago at a wonderful Digital Citizenship Summit sponsored by Yahoo (wish Yahoo were still sponsoring this event, which was well worth the drive to Silicon Valley!). I was delighted for a second opportunity to listen to and learn from Marsali. She is an outstanding presenter. For instance, rather than follow my Common Sense Media slideshow with an iKeepSafe slideshow, she initiated a highly engaging conversation with the parents by asking parents to share their concerns about their children’s use of the Internet and social media. Parents first shared with their table neighbors, and then contributed to the whole group.

Within minutes, Marsali addressed all their questions. She pulled from recent research for a number of the questions – and stressed the need for balance, a key component of iKeepSafe’s Be a Pro program and website. She also stressed the need for parents to step away from “distracting parenting” in order to model balance of online time for their children.

Marsali’s last tip was one I had not thought of including in a digital citizenship program: the need to monitor our credit ratings. She cited the example of a young woman who graduated from high school and went on to college without needing to take out student loans. Upon graduating from college, she went on to and graduated from law school, again, with no loans. It was when she began applying for jobs that she discovered she had a huge problem: a terrible credit rating. How had this happened? Apparently children are four times more likely to have their identities stolen than adults. Such was the case with this young woman. For years, someone had been charging away, using various credit cards opened in her name.

I know the parents in attendance truly appreciated the resources, tips, and conversations shared at this 90-minute event. I left with a renewed appreciation of the commitment both Common Sense Media and iKeepSafe have made to providing parents and educators with dynamic FREE resources for helping our children/students become firmly grounded in what it means to be a positive, contributing (digital) citizen.

 

 

Cyberbullying: What the Research Shows

Cyberbullying: What the Research Shows

This week I will be gathering resources on cyberbullying in preparation for an upcoming school board meeting. As I explained in a recent post, school districts in the Sacramento region are dealing with troubling, even tragic, stories of bullying/cyberbullying at a number of school sites. As a result of media coverage on the very real, very negative impact of bullying on students (targets, bullies, bystanders) within and beyond the school day, I think/hope all districts are revisiting this important topic.

As the co-curator of both a district and a global digital citizenship site, I am always on the lookout for new resources, lessons, and research. I really appreciate timely resources from two of my favorite digital citizenship organizations: Cyberbullying Research Center and Common Sense Media.

cyberbullyresearchcenter
Cyberbullying Research Center

Cyberbullying Quiz – What the Research Shows – Professors  Sameer Hinduja (Florida Atlantic University) and  Justin Patchin (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire) are the co-directors of the Center for Cyberbullying Research. As researchers, they delve into and provide “up-to-date information about the nature, extent, causes, and consequences of cyberbullying among adolescents.” I highly recommend using their newly released Cyberbullying Quiz to  jump start faculty discussions.  The quiz is short (15 true/false questions) and each answer also includes the supporting research.

In addition to the quiz, Hinduja and Patchin have  published a comprehensive Cyberbullying Fact Sheet that is written for educators, administrators, and parents. If you are looking for a professionally done handout for a Parent Night, I’d recommend the Fact Sheet.

csmlogo

Common Sense Media, although not solely focused on cyberbullying, is also constantly updating and adding to their resources. The awesome Kelly Mendoza, director of program development for Common Sense Media’s education programs, recently hosted a webinar with Dr. Elizabeth Englander, professor of psychology at Bridgewater State University: Cyberbullying, Sexting, and Social Media Use. Both the audio and the video are excellent – as is the content! I learned a few new terms from Dr. Englander, such as self-cyberbullying:

“Another issue that is a little peculiar that you may have never heard of is something called self-cyberbullying. This is a problem where kids essentially go online, they create a second persona online, and they use their second identity to cyberbully their first identity themselves. And then they take evidence of this to either their friends or to adults, and they say essentially ‘see, I’m being cyberbullied.’ It’s one of these issues that I thought was going to be very rare. However, we’ve been tracking it for three years now, and we’ve found that about 15 percent of kids admit to doing this.”

Dr. Englander is also the director and founder of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center, or MARC, “an academic Center in public higher education, committed to a public health model for bullying and cyberbullying prevention for the state of Massachusetts.” MARC’s K-12 cyberbullying “evidence-based” curriculum looks excellent, including their videos. I will definitely be sharing the K-5 video, Meanness Is Like Littering, with my district community:

Dr. Englander also champions the Great American No Bull Challenge, which includes wonderful student-created videos such as Numbskull:

 

In addition to cyberbullying research, lessons, and videos,  I am hoping to add links to printable posters to cyberbullying my cyberbullying resources. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

 

 

Teaching Resilience – How parents & teachers can help stop cyberbullying

Teaching Resilience – How parents & teachers can help stop cyberbullying

The most painful parts of watching Netsmartz‘s powerful video Your Photo Fate are the last three clips, where we watch the facial expressions change on the boy who is a target of cyberbullying, followed by the his mother’s fallen expression, and his father’s heart-sick look.

In my job as a district technology integration specialists, I am often invited to give parent workshops on digital citizenship, with cyberbullying being the topic parents most want to discuss. I’m grateful to be able to direct parents to excellent free online resources, such as Common Sense Media’s Standing Up, Not Standing By – Cyberbullying Kit for PTA leaders. The kit includes one of my favorite tip sheets for parents, providing  both background on cyberbullying and boiling it down to five essential tips to prevent cyberbullying before it happens:

Teach your kids empathy. Nothing drives home a point faster than walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. If your kids truly understand what someone else is going through, they’re less likely to bully someone — or passively witness others being bullied.

Help kids understand the line between funny and cruel. Kids’ online communication is often purposely ambiguous or accidentally cruel — both of which can lead to misunderstandings. If drama starts brewing, ask your kid to call or speak face to face with their friend to clear it up.

Make sure they talk to someone (even if it’s not you). As kids enter the middle school years, their circle of friends and trusted adults widens. Kids need a responsible adult to confide in — their school counselor, their music teacher, even the parent of a friend.Talk to your kid about who they can go to if trouble is brewing.

Help your kid be an upstander — not a bystander. Kids are hesitant to get involved, in case the bully turns their sights on them. But there are ways to allow your kid to work behind the scenes to reach out to the victim, get an adult involved, and prevent more cruel behavior.

Show your kid how to stop it. Tell kids not to respond or retaliate. Not feeding the bully can stop the cycle. And — if anything does happen — save the evidence.”

This morning, thanks to an email from Natalie Bernasconi  (Digital-ID co-curator), I read Esther Cepeda’s Defining ‘bullying’ Down article.  Just as Common Sense Media has articulated the importance of teaching empathy, Cepeda identifies an equally key concept parents – and educators – should be promoting: resilience.

More and more scientific evidence is pointing to resiliency — the ability to overcome adversity by using learned personal strengths such as independence, initiative, creativity and humor — as a key factor in reducing risky behaviors and increasing academic achievement in adolescents.

But we don’t teach resiliency in schools. Instead, society consistently reinforces the notion that every slight, every discomfort, every put-down or rejection is worthy of an outpouring of sympathy for a wronged victim. We’re teaching that mantra in schools and in workplace harassment seminars, and it encourages people who feel uncomfortable to turn on a perceived oppressor.

Guess who this harms? Not those who crave attention, sympathy or the spotlight, but the quiet among us who haven’t yet found a way to stand up to the honest-to-goodness bullies in their lives”

In looking over the Digital ID project’s Digital Citizenship Glossary, we have defined empathy (Common Sense Media’s first tip), but not resilience. My goal this week is to add not only the definition (text and audio file), but also find a short video or two to make this abstract concept more tangible.

Natalie and I came together as co-creators and curators of the Digital ID project through as long-time affiliation with the National Writing Project and our 2011 participation in the Krause Center for Innovation’s MERIT program.  As educators, we are both committed to teaching for social justice, and, therefore, frequently ask ourselves and colleagues, “How do you teach resilience?”  If you visit the Curriculum Collaborations page on the Digital ID wiki, you will see that we believe one important step is to provide our students with many samples, both fiction and non-fiction, of heroism and survival.  And from there, the next step is help students see how the ability of real-life or fictional characters to actively take steps to overcome often insurmountable challenges might help them deal with the very real challenges so many of them face before, during, and after school hours.

Any suggestions for short videos or other resources for teaching about resilience would be much appreciated!

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