Friday, 3 July 2015

Explicitly Teach Digital Citizenship

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. are a reality amongst today's youth. There was a time when students knew more about social media sites than their parents and teachers, but the grownups are slowly catching up! A wonderful colleague introduced me to the following book and I was able to start wrapping my head around teen's needs to be social publicly.

Interestingly enough, the new and improved Ontario Health curriculum doesn't explicitly touch on internet safety until Grade 7. Students will "describe benefits and dangers, for themselves and others, that are associated with the use of computers and other technologies." In previous years students are expected to "make informed decisions that demonstrate respect for themselves and others and help to build healthier relationships, using a variety of living skills," but this is not necessarily just online.

My focus will continue to be on our HCDSB acceptable use of technology expectations as well as the School Code of Conduct:

Students are responsible for:
  • using personally owned and Board technology for curriculum-related/educational purposes only while on Board property (e.g. classrooms or instructional areas);
  • using personally owned technology for personal use only in specific areas of Board property as designated by school administration
  • demonstrating digital citizenship through the appropriate use of technology, as outlined in schools’ Codes of Conduct;
  • reporting any inappropriate use of email, data or unauthorized technology to a teacher or administrator immediately; 
  • the care, maintenance and security of their personal electronic devices – the Board is not responsible for the replacement of lost, stolen or damaged items.

In the past, we have had an Elementary School Liaison Officer from the Halton Regional Police Service coming into the Grade 6 classrooms and teaching internet safety and cyberbullying among other Health topics. Click here for more information. I will probably require my students to do a weekly reflection on D2L discussion forums in order to check for understanding. I also came across a great app from Common Sense Media, the Digital Compass, which is "engaging game helps teach the valuable lessons that today's kids need to thrive in our digital world." I will be definitely recommending this to parents again.

As with any new concept, teachers need to do a diagnostic assessment of their class to gage previous knowledge and where the teaching should continue. I've recently read some great ideas about twitter and copyright and will try similar lessons with my students in the fall. It all depends on where they stand and where I need to take them.
Last year, my teaching partner covered many of these concepts during her Health lessons. With my homeroom and Science classes, I had to focus on plagiarism. This fall, we will probably co-create a poster similar to the one below. Here's part of my lesson on Digital Citizenship from last year, where I use the slides as anchor charts and I add student knowledge during class discussions, is there anything missing?

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