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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Tips for Teaching Digital Citizenship in your Classroom

Our Dig Cit poster
According to a 2015 survey by the American Optometric Association, nearly 2/3 of American children now own their own smartphone or tablet. It's no wonder this generation of children are known as "digital natives"! However, owning a mobile device does not mean that children understand the ins and outs of safety and responsibility online. In the same way that we teach children how to be responsible and respectful citizens in the "real world," it is important to teach students how to be responsible and respectful citizens in the digital world.

When getting started teaching digital citizenship, I surveyed both students and parents to find out their background knowledge regarding digital citizenship topics. I found that most families had
never explicitly discussed with their children how to be good citizens in an online world. This was especially surprising to me because I live in the middle of Silicon Valley! About 90% of my students have some type of computer or device at home and access the Internet pretty regularly. With this information, I realized that if I didn't teach them digital citizenship skills, who would??

Ready to teach dig cit skills, but not sure where to begin? Below are some tips for getting started teaching digital citizenship in your classroom:
  • What grade level should you start teaching dig cit skills in? If students are using devices, teach the skills. I've taught mini-lessons in Kinder!
  • Are you a PBIS school? Align your dig cit instruction with your PBIS curriculum. 
    Internet Safety in Kinder
  • Find out what your students already know and what experiences and/or problems they've had online. Use that to lead discussions.
  • Not sure what topics to start with? My students do a lot of communicating and research online so I usually start with the big 3:
    • Respect (be kind to each other; ignore trolls; etc.)
    • Safety (don't give out personal info; report sketchy characters to teacher/parent)
    • Responsibility (use devices/Internet responsibly)
  • If you wouldn't do it/say it in the 'real world', don't do it/say it online!
  • Make it a discussion, NOT direct instruction-- have the students help with determining the digital citizenship expectations in your room... you might be surprised at how much they've thought about this, even if it hasn't been taught to them yet.
  • Take advantage of teachable moments. If students make a bad choice online, use that moment to teach or reteach a digital citizenship/social media skill. Like David Theriault said at his #FallCUE keynote, we didn't take away desks and textbooks when we found inappropriate language in them, so why would we take away a digital tool? (Side note... if you didn't go to FallCUE2015, take the time to watch this keynote... it is incredibly inspiring!)
  • Don't forget to talk about Digital Footprints... students don't always think about the fact that whatever they put online will be there FOREVER (even if they delete it). What do they want someone to find out about them 10 years from now...?
  • Reteach, reteach, reteach! Dig cit should be an ongoing conversation.
  • There are lots of good resources out there to help you teach dig cit skills:


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