Friday, 22 June 2012

Assessment For Learning

Assessment for Learning is a hot topic in education right now and it seems to mean a few different things depending on who's talking.  It may bring to mind images of testing, data, progress reports, feedback forms, even planning documents.

In this context, I wanted to take a chance to go back to my original brainstorm and reflect on what I've learned and where I want to go.  I have written a few times about what I'm going to take with me as I move forward and dream about the next school year but it's time for me to appreciate and celebrate my learning to date. I can summarize it all when I think about finding balance. All stacked together are standards, resources, student needs, parents, community members, initiatives, and technological devices. 

What's my role as an educator?
*Find balance in order to ensure the success of my students as citizens connected to their communities; local, global and digital.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Road Blocks

Issues are identified quickly when I start talking about technology with colleagues, family members and friends.  Just like most things, it's seems easier for people to identify the road blocks rather than how to navigate. 

As I attempted to categorize the issues I have been reading about and discussing with colleagues, I found that Jason Ohler has identified 5 categories that made sense in my context.

Jason Ohler talks about how with opportunities come challenges.  I like this statement. This is a great way to think about the excitement I have when I think about the posibilities using a variety of technology and allows me to hesitate for that brief moment, knowing that the challenges will be worth it.

Cyberbullying, safety and security often gain the most reaction because they threaten the user's identity.  I find that balance caught my attention and that is where I would like to set my priority for now. I find that it is easy to lose our balance when there's excitement, challenges, creativity, innovation and just plain change.  I intend to seek out balance in my approach as well in creating balance so that my students can succeed.

In my shopping cart already is Ohler's book. It appears to be a practical guide for engaging educators, parents and other stakeholders in the conversations about teaching children to become responsible citizens in the digital world.
 Cheers to great summer reading!

Friday, 15 June 2012

It's Like Riding A Bike

I've been thinking a lot about what I can do better next year when it comes to including more discussions, information and learning about digital citizenship in my classroom and school.  The hardest part seems to be finding out where to start when I'm not sure where everyone else is on their digital journey.

I know that elementary students where I teach generally have access to at least one piece of technology; whether it be their parents' phones, computers, tablets or their own personal mobile device.  I was trying to think of a connection to something that my students may have a similar experience with when the thought of using a bicycle came to mind.

I recently spent a day with my students and their bicycles at school.  I was quickly reminded of the challenge I was facing having students at many different levels of experience using their bicycles, helmets and locks.  Many of my students struggled with using their helmets and locks properly but were still able to do some pretty great tricks on their bikes and make their way around quite effectively.  This seems to be similar to their experiences with a variety of technological devices.

Personal Mobile Device
  • device
  • charger
  • carrying case
  • bicycle
  • helmet
  • lock
  • laws 
  • digital citizenship / media literacy
  • etiquette (online and in the presence of others)
  • laws
  • etiquette
  • privacy acts
  • digital footprint 
  • net smarts / media literacy
  • virtual boundaries
  • risky behaviours
  • rules of the road / laws 
  • geographical boundaries
  • risky behaviours 
  • practice / accessibility
  • willingness to test and try 
  • practice
  • willingness to test and try
Role of Parents
  • modeling with own devices
  • words of support and encouragement
  • instruction
  • modeling with own bicycle
  • words of support and encouragement
  • instruction
Role of Educators
  • modeling with own devices
  • provide opportunities to practice / use
  • instruction
  • provide opportunities to learn / use 
  • instruction
Role of Community
  • provide safe environment (maintain the infrastructure, provide accessibility, enforce laws)
  • provide a safe environment (maintain the roads, parks, bike racks, enforce laws)
  • independence / self-reliance
  • access to global community
  • self-expression
  • connect with others
  • independence / self-reliance
  • access to different parts of the community
  • self-expression
  • connect with other with a similar interest

Learning how to use technology appropriately is as much a part of a child's development as learning to ride a bike.  It is the responsibility of parents, educators and the community as a whole to see to it that every child has the tools they need in order to navigate safely. 

This will be my starting point next year.  Maybe this will help me bridge some of the gaps with the stakeholders at my school. 

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Inquiry and Digital Citizenship Collide

I have attached a link to an article I have written recently for the the spring edition of the Saskatchewan School Library Association's publication The Medium.  The article is titled Finding Our Voice.

It was through the mentioned inquiry projects I co-planned and taught this year that I was able to develop a basic understanding of student needs with regards to digital citizenship.At first I thought that my learning was a reaction to what my students needed.  Now, having researched, discussed and blogged about digital citizenship and what it means in my context, I know that I was learning with my students. It was through this process that I now better understand my students' reality in the digital world.  I know I have a lot to learn but it's a long, ever-changing journey.  I feel better prepared for the next steps now.

With the reflection that is occurring at this point in the school year, I am wondering about next year.  How can I do better next year? Will I be able to engage more staff members in this type of learning? How can I engage parents in these conversations about digital citizenship?

Monday, 11 June 2012


Finding places where digital citizenship connects to curricula is becoming much easier as I move through a variety of resources! Safety is a prominent topic in the elementary Health Curriculum.  Safe surfing, net-smarts or internet safety needs to be an integral part of student learning. 

The picture below is of a bulletin created by nursing students in the School Health Initiative with Nursing Education (SHINE) Program.  It acts as a visual reminder in the school halls.  I wonder how having this image in our main hallway has impacted discussions at home and throughout the school?  These are the discussions that we all should be having, especially as we put technology in the hands of our students. 

One resource to use with students is Net Smartz Kids . It has games, videos, information and variety of other activities for our young students to use as they develop their understanding of safety.  This website also has many resources for educators and parents.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Outcomes and Standards

After a few weeks of researching articles, resources and lesson plans centred around digital citizenship, I have realized that it has been much easier to find international resources and standards than local ones.  Digging a little deeper and speaking with some colleagues, I was able to find a Canadian site that has many valuable resources. As part of this investigation, I asked 10 teachers on staff at my school and only one of them told me where they sought out resources and information pertaining to digital citizenship.  Media Smarts: Canada's Center for Digital and Media Literacy is the one that was recommended to me.

Media Smarts is a Canadian resource that centers many resources for educators about using media and teaching students about media use.  There are games, information, lesson plans, research and connections to various policies.

Specifically, I spent some time searching for local standards and this site provides access to Media and Literacy Outcomes by Province and Territory. I learned that digital and media literacy outcomes in Saskatchewan are specifically tied to the English Language Arts Curriculum.  As part of the English Language Arts: Aims and Goals, it is said that the goal "for Grades K-12 is to graduate a literate person who is competent and confident in using language for both functional and aesthetic purposes".  More specifically, I found a general description a media literacy.  The following is cited from the Saskatchewan section of Media Smarts.
              "Grades K-5: Media Literacy in English Language Arts
               Media is a powerful tool for improving and expanding language learning in the classroom.  At          
               the elementary level, students experience and use media to share and enjoy stories, information
               and ideas.  Students have opportunities to explore various ways of preparing, preserving,
               displaying and presenting meaning to others.  Classroom experiences enable students to
               interpret, critique and evaluate the purpose and effectiveness of various media."  

It is not enough to identify media literacy solely in one subject area.  Upon further research, I did find that 'Technological Literacy' is listed as a tab in the general reference section of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education website.  There are 5 websites listed that range from journals to checkpoints as well as links to ISTE and NETS.

I wonder if the multiple terms to describe this topic hinders people's abilities to access a variety of resources? This makes me think that if resources or guidelines are hard to find, they probably are not used as frequently as one may hope.

*** I would love to know where other educators as well as parents go to find resources about medial literacy, technological literacy or digital citizenship.

Monday, 4 June 2012

A Great Lesson Plan

I have been looking for resources as well as lesson plans that can be collected and shared.  Common Sense Media has a wealth of resources for parents and educators.

One lesson plan that I really liked is titled Rings of Responsibility and it is designed for students in grades 4 and 5.  DIGITAL LITERACY AND CITIZENSHIP IN A CONNECTED CULTURE
© 2010 

The first reason why this is a great example of a lesson that can be used to teach elementary students about digital citizens is that it builds on what prior knowledge students already have about their own communities. This lesson adds their digital communities to their understanding of communities.

The second reason is the inclusion of the key vocabulary.  This gives educators a base to start with especially if they are just learning about digital citizenship themselves.
                                   Key Vocabulary
                                    • Responsibility: A duty or obligation
                                    • Community: A group of people with a common background or shared interests 

                                    • Citizen: A member of a community
                                    • Digital Citizen: A member of a worldwide community linked by the Internet 

The third reason why is because the introduction is a great way to hook elementary aged students.  The introduction used Spider-Man's motto "With great power comes great responsibility." Students proceed develop their understanding around digital citizenship with an outline of how it is their responsibility.  This creates an ownership within students and reinforces the thought that they have the power to share their ideas and interact appropriately.  The final activity in order to get students to transform what they learned into something they can share with others is creating a comic strip with their own superhero helping out when someone has acted in a way that demonstrates poor digital citizenship. 

Finally, this lesson plan connects to National Education Technology Standards for Students. The following is information listed and cited by Common Sense Media as part of the lesson.  

Alignment with Standards – National Educational Technology Standards for Students© 2007 (Source: International Society for Technology in Education, 2007)

 1. Creativity and Innovation
 a. apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes 
b. create original works as a means of personal or group expression
2. Communication and Collaboration
c. communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats
5. Digital Citizenship
a. advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology
b. exhibit a positive attitude towards using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity c. demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning
d. exhibit leadership for digital citizenship 

This is a lesson I would encourage educators to try with their elementary students or look for others that are similar to use with students of a different age. 

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Creating Positive Habits

In elementary school, students are continually taught and reminded on how to act appropriately as learners.  Practice is really key when it comes to creating these positive habits. In order to become digital citizens, students need to have access on a regular basis so that they may develop appropriate behaviours.

In researching resources to add to my toolbox I found that there were 3 key sites that provided me with information to support my teaching and developing these digital citizenship qualities with my students.

The first is Creative Commons. On the website it is described as "building a culture of sharing."  This is the key to digital citizenship in my world. It means that people will have the tools to share appropriately and use other works with respect.  This website provides information about licensing your own work, searching and finding licensed works, projects being done in the digital community and how open educational resources can be used in teaching, learning and research.  This site has recently been added to my favourites tab.

The second site is International Society for Technology in Education.  This site is designed to provide educators with the standards and strategies to further education in a digital age.  The 3 principles for teaching that caught my eye are:
1. Faciliate and inspire student learning and creativity.
2. Design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments.
3. Model digital age work and learning.  

Finally, Common Sense Media is a great resource for teachers! This site has resources categorized by grade level and by topic. The resources are catered for students from Kindergarten to grade 12 and are designed to provide lessons for teachers as well as parent education.  Below is a poster that can be ordered for elementary classrooms, which is just one of the easy to use resources on this website.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Students Say

This week I was having a discussion with my students as they prepared to work on their inquiry projects; How are humans, animals and plants interdependent? We've always discussed what is expected when it comes to using our mini-laptops and we have used them to learn and share our ideas successfully throughout the school year. This time, I decided it was time to use the term 'Digital Citizenship' and right away someone made the connection to citizenship as 'living and respecting the charter of rights and responsibilities'.

Now to clarify, at the beginning of the year we examined the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for Children and then created our own class charter using rights and responsibilities. The following is what we had and then I have added the newest addition.

      1. I have the right to go to the bathroom or to get a drink of water. I have the responsibility for taking your name tag out of the slot.  
      2. I am free to use school supplies, books and equipment.  I am responsible for treating the items in the classroom nicely.  
      3. I have the right to voice my opinions respectfully.  I have the responsibility for being respectful of others opinions.  
      4. I have the right to a safe classroom environment.  I am responsible for following safety rules.  
      5. I have the right to fair treatment by all students.  I have the responsibility to treat others fairly.  
      6. I have the right to speak at the appropriate time.  I have the responsibility to respect the teacher when they are talking and to be quiet when we are working.  
      7. I have the right to be myself.  I have the responsibility to treat others and myself with respect.
Our newest addition:
      8. I have the right to go on the computers, search the websites listed by my teacher, ask questions and share my ideas.  I have the responsibility to use the computers appropriately, try to answer questions, give credit to the authors and share my ideas.

It's pretty impressive when students can make those connections from what we've been doing to a new term. The term digital citizenship seemed like a natural addition and I will be making sure to include it in next year's discussions in September. 

If I'm thinking about next year, I need more information to do a better job of making digital citizenship apparent throughout the learning.  Having more resources will certainly be beneficial. I think that's where I'm headed next.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Digital Citizenship; What does it mean?

Digital citizenship has been a term that I've heard regularly for a few years now and I'm wondering if it will stick around or get left in the dust as terms and trends often do?  Teachers, maybe more generally people, often seek out ways make concepts or ideas tangible. By giving citizenship in a digital context a term with expectations, there is hope that more people will be able to live by these expectations and teach others to do the same.  The definition I'm going to use is: "Digital citizenship can be defined as the norms of behavior with regard to technology use." (Ribble & Bailey, 2004)

Mike Ribble lists resources and research surrounding digital citizenship. Among his research he has described the nine elements commonly associated with digital citizenship. The nine elements are listed as follows.
1. Digital Access: full electronic participation in society
2. Digital Commerce: electronic buying and selling of goods.
3. Digital Communication: electronic exchange of information
4. Digital Literacy: process of teaching and learning about technology and the use of technology
5. Digital Etiquette: electronic standards of conduct or procedure
6. Digital Law: electronic responsibility for actions and deeds
7. Digital Rights &Wellness: those freedoms extended to everyone in a digital world
8. Digital Health & Wellness: physical and psychological well-being in a digital technology world
9. Digital Security (self-protection): electronic precautions to guarantee safety
Ribble suggests that the nine elements can be taught within 3 themes; respect yourself/respect others, educate yourself/connect with others, and protect yourself/protect others. 

The general understanding is that the learning with regards to digital citizenship should be on-going throughout the school year, in all grades and subjects. The role of teachers is to ensure that these students are able to transfer their skills as digital citizens to all educational and personal situations.

With all of this in mind, I wonder what my students are thinking about our norms in the classroom with regards to technology use?

Riddle, Mike S. & Bailey, Gerald D. Digital Citizenship Focus Questions for Implementation. (2004) Learning & Leading with Technology Volume 32 Number 2 Copyright ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Starting up

As I get started, I wondered what would be the best way to show what I'm wondering about digital citizenship.  My thoughts turned to what I have been working on with my students in the classroom.  As part of our inquiry projects, the students have been brainstorming using the program So, I did just what I asked my students to do and put down what I know at this point in my thought web.