BlogWalker

Muddling through the blogosphere

Snapshot of Gail Desler and Natalie Bernasconi at Microsoft celebration in Seattle

February 24, 2019
by blogwalker
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How Can a Distracted Generation Learn Anything? – An Interview with BBC

Two weeks ago, via my district email, Nicholas Mancall-Bitel contacted me with a request:

“I’m a freelance writer working on an article for BBC Capital about the challenges of teaching Gen Z (ages 10-24) and Gen Alpha (ages 0-9) students.

The basic premise of my piece is something like ‘How to Teach a Distracted Generation,’ focusing on how teachers can engage young digital natives who are accustomed to app engagement, video, screens, social media and other digital platforms. I would love to learn more from you about the particular obstacles teachers face today in teaching digital natives, as well as the ways teachers have integrated digital citizenship and new educational media into classes in order to engage these students.”

He also explained that he was on a tight deadline. We connected for an interview on February 11; on February 20, How Can a Distracted Generation Learn Anything? was posted to the BBC website.

As co-director of my district’s digital citizenship program, I am always looking for opportunities – like Nicholas Mancall-Bitel’s request – to showcase the work of colleagues who develop innovative, meaningful ways of meeting their students’ needs. I immediately reached out to four outstanding educators for feedback:

Natalie Bernasconi – Natalie teaches in the Salinas Unified High School District and also mentors future teachers through UC Santa Cruz’s credentialing program . We met about 12 years ago through the National Writing Project. It has been my privilege to learn from and collaborate with Natalie on numerous projects, conferences, and summits (e.g., MERIT11, CUE, ISTE, Google Teacher Academy, Common Sense) and to co-author Driving Without a License, Digital Writing Without Digital Citizenship, the opening article for Using Technology to Enhance Writing. Although Mancall-Bitel referenced one of Natalie’s strategies in the article, I wanted share all of her thoughts on the topic:

  • If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em is one response. I use a lot of short video and music clips to augment my lesson plan. Youtube can be a teacher’s best friend
  • Technology can provide creative alternatives to traditional methods for students to demonstrate their learning. as well FlipGrid is one – which mimics the selfie/video world our teens inhabit.
  • I actively seek to empower my (Title 1) students to recognize their addiction using naming and questioning strategies.  It doesn’t work to just take away their phones – there are liability issues that make that an unwise action, and it makes them jones for it even more. Instead I ask students about the choices they are making and the priorities they have for themselves.  I remind them of their goals for themselves.  As a last resort, I have a plastic tub that I invite repeat offenders to place their phone in if they find themselves unable to control their fomo.  This is an ongoing battle that I face daily with some of my students.
  • We adults are struggling with the same issues. I found my own weekly iPhone summary to be shocking and then highly motivating to decrease my own screen time.
  •  I also try to leverage mindfulness strategies. There’s a series of soothing scenes you can choose from Calm.com, which my students love. Sometimes, we will take 1-2 minutes at the beginning of class to enjoy a scene and intentionally set our minds to focus. Students will even request this when they come in to my class when they feel a need to calm themselves.  We also do a few breathing techniques from time to time to help them be fully present in the room.  This has a measurable impact on the amount of distractedness in my students.
  • Students are aware of the addictive grip that tech has on their lives. Last semester, students  worked in groups to research and present on a contemporary issue, and several different groups across my class periods chose to research nomophobia, and its impact on people.
  • Above all, the most impactful way I am able to keep my students engaged is through culturally relevant pedagogy.  Just this morning, in my news feed, an interview came up  with the author of The Hate U Give, which I can powerfully connect to the district-mandated curriculum I am teaching on the American Dream. Infusing these types of texts helps connect students to the world and to their own lives.
Photo collage of Natalie Bernasconi and Gail Desler

A few photo opps with Natalie

Erica Swift – Like Natalie, Erica chooses to teach at a Title I school, and is committed to leveling the playing field for her students by using technology to bring experts into the classroom. In this videoconference, for instance, students are learning from a California State Parks ranger (through the PORTS program) about the monarch butterfly. From videoconferencing to video production, she offers her students opportunities to dig deeper into topics they care about and to share their findings with an authentic audience. Erica spoke directly with Mancall-Bitel, who included several of her quotes in the article.

Cathe Petuya – Cathe teaches with Erica and shares the same commitment to teaching for social justice. Cathe is also the PORTS poster child, with her Gold Rush videoconference posted to the PORTS landing page. If you listen to the videoconference, you will understand why I try to visit Cathe’s classes whenever possible. I leave every visit energized by her passion for teaching and her ability to build a learning community where every voice matters.

I forwarded Cathe’s response to Mancall-Bitel… just missing his publication deadline. Darn. Every thought Cathe has shared below is a conversation starter:

Yes, our students today are distracted.  They are used to fast-paced programming without time for reflection or even polite debate.  This practice has left them with a strong desire to bond with others on a more personal level but without the skills to do it in a healthy way.  Emotions run high and give way to outbursts frequently.  Or students are so used to being in the background or left on their own that it’s very difficult to get them to participate. Both extremes lack the social skills to solve interpersonal challenges and get their needs met. So my teaching is all about the relationships I build with my students.  Nothing matters until they know they matter to me.

Today’s students have been fed a steady diet of “fast food” in every facet of their lives.  The gift of time has been cast aside for the misguided goal of accomplishing more sooner.  We have to realize that children’s physical and emotional development can’t be rushed, but it can be derailed. And that is what is present in my classroom every day.  I have many, many students who have been exposed to a myriad of grown-up concepts without guidance or discussion to help children process all that they experience.

Deeper learning occurs during periods of reflection.  More information is retained when it is connected to a story.  It is how humans are wired.  So I try to embed opportunities for students to talk often, listen to others, and respond with a personal connection.  By focusing on these needs, I know I can create an environment where students trust me and their classmates so they feel safe to take risks and try again when they stumble.

VoiceThread and Seesaw, the Learning Journal, are my top go-tos  for getting students to reflect and respond. They work perfectly for any age group and on any topic and on any device. The point of those options is for students to tell their story and connect with others beyond the classroom.  It is the perfect way to expand their vision of what could be and practice kindness and consideration for others – a key component of learning digital citizenship. Adding in video production reveals many more layers of skills to be built through collaboration, planning, and performance. Kids want to do and share and be known.  Tech used in the right way can make all that happen and so much more.

Photo of Gail Desler, Cathe Petuya, and Sandy Hayes at ISTE 2018 Conference in Chicago.

Celebrating #ISTE18 with Cathe Petuya (left) and Sandy Hayes (right)

Conrad Bituin – I had the privilege of co-presenting with Conrad at my district’s Digital Kids, Digital Classroom Saturday Seminar – and am looking forward to more opportunities to collaborate with and learn from him. I sent Conrad’s response along with Cathe’s, again, just missing Mancall-Bitel’s deadline. Each of his five suggestions is a gem:

  • Most important thing for me is to try to incorporate their “outside” interests into assignments, or even just into the class discussion. This starts with relationship building, and ends with authentic differentiation.
  • More technology related – I use what some would call “app smashing” (See https://k12technology.weebly.com/app-smashing.html). I try different combinations of technology tools to create an experience for the student. Youtube is great, until you get to the 10th video – then it’s “just another youtube video.” Combining various tools and technologies allows the student to experience content in different ways.
  • I try to keep in mind that just because many of our students are digital natives that have only known life with a device, this doesn’t translate to being successful in every aspect of technology. We still have conversations about appropriate use, class expectations, and effective use of technology (just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we should). I also keep this in mind when introducing new applications – many students still need to be instructed on how to use the system, and when.
  • The old educational adage “voice and choice” can also be harnessed in limitless combinations through the use of technology!
Photo from Saturday Seminar session with Gail Desler and Conrad Bituin

Saturday Seminar Twitter session with Conrad Bituin

Teaching to a “distracted generation” is a reality and an ever-changing challenge. I am pretty sure if you read the BBC article and the additional insights shared in this post, you will start the week with new ideas to best engage your easily distracted students in whatever topic or subject you are addressing.

I would love for this post to be an ongoing discussion on tips and best practices for building and maintaining student engagement. You are warmly invited to leave a comment.

 

July 29, 2018
by blogwalker
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#DigCitCommit – Heading into the New School Year

With the start of the new school year only days away, it’s time to send out some new #digcit resources to teachers and administrators. This annual email is something my colleague Kathleen Watt and I send off in August as part of our district’s digital citizenship program. Typically, the new resources come from sessions attended or vendors booths visited during the annual 4-day summer ISTE Conferences, which take place the last week in June.

This year, some wonderful #digcit conversations started a few weeks prior to the ISTE 2018 Conference, thanks to a Tweet from the awesome Nancy Watson. The Tweet included Nancy’s thought-provoking infographic gem 5 Stages of Growth into a #DigCit State of Mind.

Ten years ago, when tasked with supporting district-wide digital citizenship initiatives and programs, Kathleen and I can definitely remember site administrators and teachers who were at Stage 1: Digital Aversion. Over the years, thanks to organizations like Common Sense, ISTE, and Google, we’ve continued to share timely, relevant resources on #digcit topics, ranging from taking a stand on cyberbullying to building a positive digital footprint. This school year, we look forward to being involved in conversations ignited by the 5 Stages infographic as our school sites develop and submit their 2018-19 Digital Citizenship Implementation Plans.

Besides the infographic, Nancy’s Tweet included a powerful hashtag: #digcitpln. Even if you were not at ISTE, a quick Twitter search for #digcitpln will bring up lots of opportunities to participate in upcoming digital citizenship related discussions, chats, and events.

#digcitpln – an invitation to action!

There is another Twitter hashtag we’ll be including in the email: #DigCitCommit. It still gives me chills when I think back to this year’s opening ISTE keynote speech. Chief Executive Officer Richard Culatta’s emphasis on the importance of making sure we are grounded in what it means to be contributing digital citizens set the tone for the conference. His invitation and challenge to share our 2018 commitments to model, teach, and promote positive digital citizenship practices can be followed via #digcitcommit.

Richard Culatta #ISTE18 keynote

There is one more ISTE takeaway we’ll be sharing in our district email. This takeaway is not actually from the conference. It comes from two questions posed by Matt Hiefield on ISTE’s Digital Citizenship PLN Discussions page:

How are school districts assessing digital citizenship behaviors and communicating these behaviors to parents?  Has anyone put digital citizenship language on report cards?”

Matt shared a draft from his school district:

ISTE PLN discussion post from @MattHiefield

If you, like me, are in a large school district, then I’m sure you already know there would be many steps and committees involved in changing district report cards. But baby steps could have a powerful impact and ripple effect. For those monthly student awards assemblies, for instance, how about changing the Good Citizenship Award to the Good (Digital) Citizenship Award?

I know parentheses are typically used to include information that clarifies or is an aside note. I’m proposing that, in the case of (Digital) Citizenship, the parentheses indicate something that goes without saying.

In the 2018-19 school year, I hope to see more school sites recognizing that not only is “digital” part of our students’ lives, but it can also be documented and acknowledged as part of their school day. Students who are using their online voices to address issues and make positive contributions to all the communities to which they belong (online and face-2-face) are already stepping into Stage 5: Digital Advocacy territory

One more bullet point I’m thinking of adding to Matt’s list is “Students verify information before posting or sharing.” I’ll also draft a sample letter that teachers or principals could send home to parents to explain the integration of “digital” into grading practices and policies. The more stakeholders involved in the conversation, the better.

It’s possible I already have an elementary school ready to start the (digital) citizenship conversations.

#DigCitCommit

April 22, 2018
by blogwalker
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Five #DigCit Shout Outs to ISTE

I’ve been a long-time fan and promoter of ISTE’s significant contributions to digital citizenship resources for teachers and students. So I wanted to give some #DigCit shout outs:

Shout Out #1: ISTE Standards for Educators – Standard 3: Citizen – I love the emphasis on students as creators and contributors, not just consumers of information. And in an age of fake news, Standard 3B is a must-have skill.

ISTE Standard 3B graphic

Includes link to download and print poster.


Shout Out #2: ISTE #DigCit Posters and Infographics – Starting with their Citizenship in a Digital Age poster, which compares citizen vs. digital citizen, to their more recent Today’s News: Real or Fake infographic and accompanying article, ISTE’s #digcit visuals provide an instant window into current topics and issues.

Click on the graphic to open a printable version.


Shout Out #3: ISTE Publications – From Mike Ribble’s Digital Citizenship in School, to my most recent purchase, Kristen Mattson’s Digital Citizenship in Action, and, of course, the quarterly entrsekt publication, I love being able to share hard copies of “thought-provoking articles on edtech trends, columns by influential and innovative leaders from within and outside the education world, as well as examples of best practices and edtech in action.” ISTE publications have a designated space in my bookcase.

Come join the Digital Citizenship in Action book study!


Shout Out #4: ISTE #digcitPLN – Several weeks ago, the awesome Nancy Watson tagged me in a Tweet that drew me into ISTE’s #digcitPLN. The Tweet included a link to her blog post How We Grow into a #DigCitStateOfMind, where she has embedded a Piktochart: Stages of Growth into a
#DigCitStateofMind. If you need a quick way to ignite school and/or district conversations on strategies for moving from Digital Aversion (Stage 1) to Digital Action (Stage 4), send your thank you’s to Nancy.

#digcit poster/conversation starter from ISTE’s Nancy Watson.

Last week, I joined the #digcitPLN chat, and look forward to more ways to connect with this dynamic group committed to tackling #digcit challenges and opportunities.

Questions from April 19 #digcitPLN chat.

Questions from April 19 #digcitPLN chat.

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I am also hugely honored to be the recipient of the ISTE #digcitPLN inaugural Digital Citizenship Network Award. The opportunity to join and meet other ISTE Professional Learning Networks awardees for a special breakfast will be the highlight of my 2018 Conference experience.     

************


Shout Out # 5: ISTE & Teachers Guild Collaboration – The Teachers Guild had a great idea: Sponsor an online challenge for teachers to create lessons that “empower students to be better digital students,” open a voting window, and award the top three entrants with a year’s membership to ISTE and the opportunity to present their ideas and lessons at ISTE’s annual conference in June.

ISTE and Teachers Guild sponsor a contest for creating digital citizenship lessons.

Eleven #digcit lessons made it to the final round.

I am honored that Can I Use That? A Guild to Creative Commons, Copyright and Fair Use made the top three!


Thank you, ISTE, for the many ways you continue to walk your mission talk:

ISTE inspires educators worldwide to use technology to innovate teaching and learning, accelerate good practice and solve tough problems in education by providing community, knowledge and the ISTE Standards, a framework for rethinking education and empowering learners.”

 

I’m starting my countdown to the June Annual Conference – and the opportunity to give my #digcit shout outs in person to all my ISTE heroes.

February 19, 2018
by blogwalker
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Two Reasons Why Teaching about Copyright Just Got Easier

“Great leaders give credit.” George Couros

If you consider teaching students about their intellectual property rights and responsibilities an essential component of a digital citizenship program, I’m with you. So thanks to a recent change by Google and a new Google Docs Add-On by teacher Brandon Dorman, we have two great items to spark discussions on copyright.

Item #1 – Google’s removal of the View Image button from image searches – Yes, there has been some public pushback over losing a super-fast way to view and copy an image. Personally, I am glad for the change since image searchers will now use the Visit Site button to view the actual hosting site for images. Although the Visit Site button was always there, image searchers could ignore it.

If you are not yet familiar with the Visit Site button, it is from the host site that you will find out exactly how the creator would like you to respect and/or attribute his/her work through Creative Commons licensing (see the video below for a Creative Commons introduction).

For those opposed to visiting the host site and viewing the creator’s licensing, there are already a number of workarounds available. I hope the workarounds do not deter image searchers from giving proper attribution to those who are freely sharing their creative work.

Item #2 – Former 7-12 math teacher’s Creative Commons Google Doc Add-On – The best way to bring students on board with respect for intellectual property is to have them create and share their own work. So I was delighted to learn about Brandon Dorman’s Creative Commons Google Doc Add-On, which makes choosing and adding CC licensing to a Google Doc a snap.

What would make this Add-On even better? I’d love it if it were included in the Google Docs Tools dropdown menu rather than as an Add-On. Due to the agree-to components of 3rd party Add-Ons (which legally equate to a contract), my district blocks student access to Add-Ons and extensions.

At this point, though, for students 13+, I would certainly encourage them to add Brandon’s Creative Commons licensing option to their personal Google accounts.

Note to Self: Need to head to Can I Use That? A Guide to Creative Commons and accompanying hyperdoc lesson and make updates to reflect the above items.

February 8, 2018
by blogwalker
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Digital Citizenship – It’s not just for students

In recognition that we are living in a “post-truth” era, rampant with “fake news,” and that we all need media literacy skills, I’ve been gathering resources, collaborating with colleagues, and creating presentations geared to both students and staff. I’m adding to my Media Literacy site almost daily, with a weekly featured resource.

For the past 10 years, I’ve been co-directing my district’s digital citizenship program with my colleague Kathleen Watt. We’ve recently been discussing ideas for merging media literacy into our digital citizenship resources, with possibly a new logo coming soon.

A recent article by Keegan Korf, Embracing Our Digital Footprints and Guiding Students to Curate and Reshape Their Own, has us rethinking how we’ve been rolling out our program. Until now, our focus has been solely on students. While we provide a wide range of resources for teachers and parents to use with their students and their children, Keegan’s infographic (below) serves as a timely reminder that we should also be providing resources to help adults be aware of the need to be role models and to build and maintain positive digital footprints.

digital citizenship infographic by Keegan Korf

Infographic created by Keegan Korf

It’s not difficult to find excellent videos for students, such as Netsmartz’ 2 Kinds of Stupid, on how quickly your online reputation can destroy future job opportunities, scholarship options, and more.

But what about digital footprint videos for adults? I’m wondering how many talented, young teachers applying for positions in school districts across the nation will not even make it to the first interview due to something they’ve posted on social media. TED Talks such as Megan’s You Posted What?! could help “xennials” or anyone just entering the job market to stop and think before posting, retweeting, etc.

I appreciate the stellar work ISTE has done in developing (digital) citizenship standards for educators.

Over the next few months, I would like to gather examples of the many ways educators are modeling Standard 3 – with a special focus on 3a. If you have stories, infographics, TED Talks, lessons, articles, etc., to illustrate how an educator is actively making “positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibiting empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community,” please share by leaving a comment.

#BeInternetSafe curriculum

August 26, 2017
by blogwalker
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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.

 

August 6, 2017
by blogwalker
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Blogging – A powerful digital literacy/digital citizenship tool

I work in the Technology Services Department for a large public school district. I love my job (technology integration specialist) and truly appreciate my department’s support of programs that promote digital literacy and the potential for students – and teachers – to advance from digital citizens to global citizens.

With this week’s start of the new school year, I’m getting lots of requests from teachers to setup Edublogs Pro classroom blogs, something I am happy to do … but not until we’ve had a conversation about their vision for their blogs. Because my department pays for our Edublog Campus accounts (worth every penny), I like to know how far up the SAMR ladder they – and their students – might travel via their classroom blog. If they simply want an online location to post homework and announcements, I suggest a free Google Site. If they need a little background on the SAMR model, I might send them a short video, such as John Spensor’s introduction, which makes the connection to the potential power of blogging:

Last week, in response to my blogging vision questions, a teacher sent me a link to the awesome Jeff Bradbury’s TeacherCast session: The Great EdTech Debate: Google Sites vs Google Classroom vs Blogger. I emailed back that Jeff was simply reviewing the suite of Google options; he was not commenting on the power and possibilities of  classroom blogging. (And I agree with Jeff that Blogger is not the best choice for a classroom blog.)

This morning, I came across Silvia Tolisano’s post Blogging Through the Lens of SAMR, I decided it was time to gather resources and rationale on moving a classroom blog from “substitution” (the “S” of SAMR) to “redefinition.” Silvia’s post, with its wonderful infographics, is a great starting point. I’m also including and highly recommending:

As a former classroom teacher, I witnessed many times the bump in literacy skills that happens when students know their work really matters, a change that generally requires an authentic audience. Blogging can provide a 24/7 microphone for students to join in virtual conversations with students and classrooms across the nation and world – and, in the process, cross the line from consumer of information to creator of information – and from digital citizen to global citizen.

I’m ending this post with two things: a blogger’s poem and an invitation.

#1) An if-you-give-a-mouse-a-cookie-style poem from Edublogger Ronnie Burt’s blog post A Rhyme? Why Not! Please note that “website” = “blog”:

If you give a student a website, at first, he isn’t going to be sure what to do.

He will start by wanting to decorate it and personalize it too.

He’ll no doubt choose some interesting colors and flashing widgets – making sure he has the most.

Once you go over expectations, you will assign the student to write his first post.

The student will ask, ‘is this for a grade?’, and he will probably groan.

But once he publishes to his new website, he’ll immediately want to pull out his phone.

He’ll post a link to twitter and facebook, out across the interwebs his post will be sent.

He’ll hit refresh in his browser, over and over, just hoping that a visitor has left a comment.

Before long he’ll see the comment notifications show up in his queue.

And an ongoing dialogue between his family, friends, and classmates will certainly continue.

So the next time he learns something new in your class, there won’t be much of a fight.

Before you even get the chance to finish, the student will ask if he can write another post on his website.

 

#2 ) An invitation to share classroom and student blogs I could showcase in my next post on blogging best practices. Please leave a comment with links!

Best wishes to everyone for the 2017-2018 school year.

PS Thank you Pixabay for cc licensed blogging image!

 

October 17, 2016
by blogwalker
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Creating a Culture of Civility

 

entrsekt - October 2016

entrsekt – October 2016

The October issue of entrsekt, ISTE’s quarterly journal, immediately caught my attention – with the cover boldly featuring Jennifer Snelling’s “A Culture of Civility: The New Tenets of Connecting in the Digital Age.”

In a highly contentious election-year atmosphere, I really appreciate having at my fingertips the research, examples, and reminder that “Civility and citizenship come from understanding alternate viewpoints and being able to have conversations and respectful debates.” 

When ISTE released the 2016 Standards, I was delighted to see Digital Citizenship as an integral component. In reading “A Culture of Civility,” I was struck by the connection between Digital Citizen and Global Collaborator, and how both standards promote “vital skills to empower students to thrive in an uncertain future.”

istestandards

In my day job, I serve on a district committee tasked with making sure teachers have access to a wealth of high-quality resources, such as Common Sense Media, for teaching and modeling digital citizenship skills with their students. Initially the topic tended to be taught in isolation, as part of an homeroom advisory period or in a computer class, for instance – too often without providing students with opportunities to put their digital citizenship skill set into practice. The arrival of Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education has thankfully brought technology integration into the core curriculum – along with the need to make sure all students are firmly grounded in what it means to be a positive, contributing digital/global citizen.

One of the many note-worthy quotes from Snelling’s article is from psychiatrist Dr. Helen Riess, who stresses the importance of developing listening skills, a first step in building empathy:

As soon as there is a culture of disrespect for opposing opinions, we lose the art of not only listening but also of compromise and negotiation, and that’s what’s contributing to this polarized society.”

In response to Dr. Riess’s concern, I’d like to share that, occasionally, when visiting classrooms in my district, I enter just as a student has apparently posted something inappropriate online. Instead of taking away the Chromebook, I love how teachers are tapping into technology misuse incidents as teachable moments on how to respectfully disagree. It is inspiring to watch students come to understand that being proficient in the genre of commenting is a non-negotiable, must-have skill for the digital age.

I am bundling the “Culture of Civility” article (which does require an ISTE membership in order to access) with two of my favorite digital citizenship resources on teaching the art of commenting as a genre:

  • From Linda Yollis’s 3rd graders: How to Write a Quality Comment

With interactive technology tools such as Google Docs, blogs, wikis, and videoconferencing making it so easy to take student voices beyond the classroom, creating a culture of civility is an essential step in empowering students to listen to and learn from a mix of shared and alternate viewpoints.

If you have resources to add to the topic and conversation of promoting a culture of civility, I warmly invite you to share them by leaving a comment.

 

September 17, 2015
by blogwalker
3 Comments

“Oh no they didn’t!” – Modeling good digital citizenship

I blog often about digital citizenship topics. Part of my day job (technology integration specialist for the Elk Grove Unified School District) involves supporting the teaching of digital citizenship across grade levels and subject areas. Beyond the school day, I co-curate the Digital ID Project.

Back to my day job. For the past 7 years, as the co-coordinator of our district-wide digital citizenship program, I’ve teamed with our very talented graphic designer and web specialist, Kathleen Watt, on all components of the program. We have written this post together.

If you visit our Digital Citizenship website, you will see a graphic, created by Kathleen, to show visitors at a glance the four areas of digital citizenship we focus on (cyberbullying, building positive digital footprints, respecting intellectual property, and protecting online privacy).

This post is in response to the need to teach – and model – respect for intellectual property. More specifically, it is our reaction to Digital Citizenship and Copyright Stations, a post we came upon this morning via the wonderful, timely DigCit Daily. We are always looking for new ideas for teaching about copyright, since our teachers often share that they are trying to build their comfort levels in teaching about intellectual property rights and responsibilities.

To see one of our digital citizenship images copied without crediting the source was disappointing – and ironic, considering the image is being used as part of another district’s digital citizenship program. A quick reverse image search on Google turned “disappointing” into “troubling.” We find it hard to believe that more than a few educators have taken the image without attributing it back to Elk Grove – all for the purpose of promoting their own digital citizenship programs. (Shout out to the Plumas Lake School for crediting the source!)

We’ve created the Oh no they didn’t! slideshow to show our reaction, reflection, and next steps in dealing with the apparently very real issue of educators perhaps teaching, but not modeling, respect for intellectual property.

August 16, 2015
by blogwalker
2 Comments

Rethinking Digital Citizenship – It’s ongoing

One of the hats I wear as a district technology integration specialist is coordinating our digital citizenship program. I’m lucky to share the responsibility with a very talented and like-minded colleague. She and I have been on what seems like an ever-changing journey for about 10 years now, stemming back to the days of “MySpace hysteria,” when we called the topic Internet Safety.

As social media tools and venues grew, with our students making good and bad choices, we soon recognized the need to help keep students safe from others – but also to keep them safe from each other – and from themselves. My colleague and I chat on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis on what needs to be updated on our district digital citizenship website and how we can best support students, teachers and administrators as the digital citizenship lead learners at their school sites.

We’ve shared resources such as Tanya Avrinth’s Rebranding Digital Citizenship with Google Tools (see below), a wonderful example and reminder that it doesn’t make sense to teach digital citizenship in isolation when, in an age of Google + affordable devices (Chromebooks, smartphones, etc.), students now have opportunities within the core curriculum to roll up their sleeves and put their #DigCit skills into practice.

In Tanya’s words,”Digital Citizenship is no longer an add-on; it’s how we teach.”

We’ve also given some thought as to whether we should drop “digital” and simply refer to the topic as “citizenship,” in recognition that citizenship is citizenship. At this point, however, we know our site VPs and counselors, who typically have to deal with the drama and disruption of the school day brought on by misuse of cell phones, for instance, truly appreciate that we continue to refer to the topic as “digital citizenship.” When conferring with the offending student(s) and parent(s), it really helps when students have to start by acknowledging the fact that they’ve had X number of years of digital citizenship instruction and do understand the consequences of hitting the Submit button.

Our over-arching goal, even beyond the goal that every graduating senior Googles well, has always been to help students in moving from digital to global citizenship. Whether it’s Mrs. Petuya’s Kindergartners blogging with scientists in Antarctica about penguins or K-12 students posting on a VoiceThread about what it means to cross the line from bystander to upstander, we want students to have opportunties to become connected and contributing digital/global citizens.

So, even though the title of Keith Heggart’s Edutopia article, “Why I Hate ‘Digital Citizenship,” had me a little worried, when I actually read the article, I agreed with his stance that we need to go beyond simply teaching students responsible, respectful use of the Internet and start teaching “how to participate – safely, yes, but also meaningfully and thoughtfully – in civil society, in political, social and other spheres.”

But I don’t think I’ll be suggesting to my district that we adopt Keith’s suggestion of renaming our current programs [which cover 1) taking a stand against cyberbullying; 2) building a positive digital footprint; 3) respecting intellectual property; and 4) protecting online privacy] to Digital Responsibility. Instead, I’m thinking more like a SAMR model, where our site programs move from Beginning Digital Citizenship (the above 4 topics) to Advanced Digital Citizenship, where students take their #DigCit skills beyond the classroom, school site, and district and connect with a global audience. Advanced DigCit would most likely happen within the core curriculum and would also likely be project-based.

If you have ideas  to share or lessons learned about rethinking, rebranding, and/or renaming school and district digital citizenship programs, please share by leaving a comment.

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