Wednesday, February 21, 2018

What is Digital Citizenship?

When you hear Digital Citizenship, what first comes to mind? Maybe it’s a combination of thoughts like internet safety, cyberbullying or determining whether it is fake news. The whole idea of digital citizenship can be overwhelming to anyone, especially a teacher or parent. The amount of time our children spend on devices increases annually. We, whether you are a teacher or parent, happen to be the best role models for our students and it’s why I personally want to learn more about digital citizenship. I want to learn all the components of this topic and share my thoughts on this blog as I process the information. My hopes are that you will gain a better understanding of digital citizenship as well and formulate some creative ways to model skills in your classroom. No matter the content that you teach, we need to be able to embrace the power of technology and help our students build healthy habits with technology in order to be successful in the digital age.

Common Sense Media defines digital citizenship as the “ability to think critically, behave safely and participate safely in the digital world.” With 1:1 becoming common among districts, it is important to think about the management of devices and knowing the tools to integrate into our curriculum. However, it is critical we also think about how our students and teachers will be interacting with the internet. With instant connection to the global world at their fingertips, we have to teach them proper online communication and appropriate internet searching. No, our students really don’t have these skills the moment the device gets into the hands. Parents and teachers should model and discuss the culture and community of being online just like we would teach this to our own classroom community. Rather than thinking of Digital Citizenship as a separate entity, let’s think about how to take a couple of minutes during the lesson to have the conversation with students while it is relevant. Think about those strategies you use with your students during Morning Meeting, Advisory Class, or simply when a situation arises. Can you use the same strategy while modeling online behavior and talk through the process? With maybe a few tweaks, I believe you can use the same strategy.

It is also critical that you familiarize yourself with the district’s RUP/AUP. This document discusses the expectations of technology use with district-issued devices. Using the same language written in the RUP/AUP will help reinforce the importance of being safe and smart while on a device. If your district does not have one yet, maybe your class can create their own Digital Citizenship Rules or Code of Conduct. Here is an example of a poster that was created that emphasizes the essential components of Digital Citizenship.


As I pursue my learning with both Common Sense Media and Netzsmartz my goal will be to blog about each of the topics, listed below, as a way for me to process and reflect on my own learning. My hope is for you, as the reader, to learn some basic information about digital citizenship in order to start modeling and talking about it with your students.
  • Internet Safety
  • Digital Footprint/Reputation
  • Self Image & Identity
  • Privacy/Security
  • Information Literacy
  • Creative Credit & Copyright
  • Cyberbullying & Digital Drama
  • Relationships & Communication

Monday, February 12, 2018

Differentiating with Technology: part III

This is the last post in our 3 post series on using technology for differentiation.  See the previous two posts here:

The last category that is typically explored with technology is differentiating the product.  This is the method that teachers use to be able to determine “did the students get it?”  Wiggins and McTighe (2005) remind us that it is not that students can acquire knowledge alone - the true measure of learning is about what students can do with their knowledge.  This is where product and differentiation really shine.

Differentiation can easily be done by allowing students to choose a method to demonstrate their knowledge.  This differentiation based on student interest is made effective and efficient with the use of technology.  Does it matter to the teacher if the student chooses to use Google Slides or a WeVideo?  Can the same understanding be demonstrated regardless of the tool?  Might some students be more engaged with one tool or another, leading to a deeper explanation of learning?  While a video may capitalize on the student’s ability to verbalize their understanding, a Google Slide presentation may rely more heavily on the written word.  For some students, speaking may be a barrier while for others, writing may be the burden.  Allowing students choice in how they express their knowledge facilitates a strengths-based approach to uncovering the content the students know.  After all, our job is to catch students in the act of learning rather than catch them in the act of not-learning.

A common pitfall in using technology to demonstrate student knowledge is the temptate to include aesthetic component of the product in the rubric.  It is important to remember that though conversations about design and creativity can be discussed in an assessment, they typically should not be assessed (unless this is an arts class!).  A task neutral rubric allows for a focus on student knowledge regardless of how she shows what she knows.

For an example of a task neutral rubric, see the high school social studies rubric developed by Pinella County Schools below.


Another popular differentiation strategy is the concept of a “choice board” where students can choose among options to demonstrate their learning.  Note that in the example below students are asked to choose one option from each of the three rows so that a complete inventory of their understanding is assessed.


Using technology to allow for differentiation benefits teachers because workflow is easier - collecting various projects is not a burden.  Students have a world of web 2.0 tools at their disposal to demonstrate their learning.  Teachers should feel free to provide tutorial links to students to show how tech tools are used but should not shoulder the burden of teaching the technology tool.  If kids can figure out tech at home (and they do!), they can do it at school as well.

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