Monday, May 11, 2015

How do YOU teach Digital Citizenship?

I have yet to meet a teacher who does not want their students to be responsible digital citizens.  Teachers inherently want to keep their students safe and help them to make smart choices.  Fitting "One more thing" in the curriculum, however, can be overwhelming at best in this age of constantly changing curriculum and standardized testing.  So, how can we make sure that we are teaching our kids to be responsible citizens, both of the digital and face-to-face worlds of which they inhabit?

This was the conundrum one of our fifth grade teachers, Wendy Plew, from Moorsbridge Elementary in Portage presented me with about two months ago.  She was deeply concerned, both as a teacher and a parent, that her fifth grade kids had constant access to technology, at school and at home, but didn't really understand the power and responsibility that these devices put upon them.  She wanted help, and I was only too happy to jump in.  My wheels started turning and we sat down to PLC about possible solutions.

What we came up with was the idea of a Digital Citizenship Day Camp for the fifth grade students.  The three fifth grade teachers at Moorsbridge, along with help from the PPS Tech Director and Tech Integration Specialists, designed a half day camp for the student.  We offered five 30 minute lessons on various topics related to digital citizenship, including: Scams and Schemes, Cell Phone Savvy, Privacy Rules, Cyberbullying, Digital Life 101.  Each student picked their top three choices from the list of five and those were the three sessions they attended during the camp.  On camp day, each student received a folder with a ticket showing which classes they were attending each session, a bookmark about digital citizenship, a note taking sheet, and a pencil.
These tickets helped the students know which class to go to each session.

The event was a great success!  The discussions were engaging and thought provoking.  The kids learned a thing or two about being responsible with their devices and taking care to leave positive digital footprints. I am sure they went home with some good topics to discuss with their parents/guardians.  When we asked the kids during the wrap up session what they thought about the day, they all said they wished it was longer so they could have gone to all the sessions, and wanted to know if we could do it again.  High praise from 11-year-olds!

In addition to the kids camp, we also offered a DigitalED parent session at the end of the school day so parents could learn a bit about how to support what the students were learning about digital citizenship during the school day, at home.

I feel so blessed to work with such amazing teachers.  They saw a need in their classrooms, and together we were able to come up with a solution that met their need and helped lay the foundation for great conversations in the future.  The learning won't stop just because Digital Citizenship Day Camp is over, it will continue through the rest of the school year and the skills the students learned will serve them well as they transition to middle school.  I look forward to expanding this to our other seven elementary schools in Portage - it's just too good to keep to ourselves.

A special thank you to all those who made this day possible:
Lori Kirshman - Moorsbridge Elementary Principal
Wendy Plew - Fifth Grade Teacher
Darcee Thomas - Fifth Grade Teacher
Michal Vandenburg - Fifth Grade Teacher
Dan Vomastek - PPS Technology Director
Paul Murray - PPS Tech Integration Specialist
Jessica Winstanley - PPS Tech Integration Specialist

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