Friday, August 16, 2013

Digital Citizenship Toolbox

For the next two weeks I will be going into the elementary classrooms and discussing "digital citizenship" with our students. In some classes we will watch video clips regarding leaving a digital footprint, in the older grades we will actually go over the school's adopted Technology Community Covenant ( and have them take it home to their parents to discuss and sign as a family. The depth and scope of my discussions about digital citizenship varies due to age of the students but doing this in the first 2 weeks of school is something that I feel very passionate about in my teaching.

In every grade level I will be sharing my class Bible verse of the year to serve as a guide for them when they are on the Internet, (Philippians 4:8Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.)  Lastly, each grade level will be shown my DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP TOOLBOX adapted from this blog post on Comfortably 2.0. Below is my version that I will be sharing with the students:

Digital Citizenship Toolbox

Credit Card
Give and get credit. We’re all proud of what we create. Illegal downloading, digital cheating, and cutting and pasting other people’s stuff may be easy, but that doesn’t make it right. You have the responsibility to respect other people’s creative work -- and the right to have your own work respected.

"Lock 'em down.” The padlock is to remind students to set strong passwords and to set up passcode locks on all of their digital devices.   

I tell students to think that passwords and toothbrushes are very similar in the fact that you NEVER want to share passwords.  (I do highly encourage/recommend that students to share passwords with parents)

Permanent Marker
Everything that you put online is permanent....even if you hit the delete button after posting.  Odds are someone has retweeted, favorited,  or taken a screenshot of the material if it was questionable.  

Imagine the information that you are putting online is like the toothpaste coming out of the tube.  Once it is out, it is almost impossible to get it all back in the tube!  

Tangled web we weave. If you want your privacy respected, respect others' privacy. Posting an embarrassing photo or forwarding a friend’s private text without asking can cause unintended hurt or damage to others.
Spread heart, not hurt. If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it online. Stand up for those who are bullied or harassed, and let them know that you’re there for them.

Make this a world you want to live in. Spread the good stuff. Create, share, tag, comment, and contribute to the online world in positive ways.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Do you know what social media sites your students are using? a.k.a- Hatin on Facebook

I am not normal. There, I said it...I am sure you have been suspecting it for months but I thought we should just talk about the elephant in the room and get it out there. Now, shall we talk specifically about what "not normal" thing about me I am willing to discuss with you this evening...

Even though I am 44 years old, I have been on Facebook since 2005...back when the only people on Facebook were college students. For me, I was working on my masters in Instructional Technology so I did not exactly fit the "mold" of Facebook users, but I was onboard. I was mainly on board because I was an Instructional Technology person wondering what all the hub-bub was about. So I will have to admit, as Facebook opened the door for any Tom, Dick, or Harry to join, I did NOT like it (that was what MySpace was for!). I enjoyed the exclusivity of Facebook. I enjoyed the simpleness of it. I enjoyed having a place to vent that my momma would not see and call me to ask "What is wrong? What is going on?" So it does not surprise me to to read this article where a  13 year old explains why teens don't like Facebook. I get it...I get that it seems like Facebook tried to hard and I get that teens do not like it when they sense someone tries to hard. I get that they want their own place for communication. Fortunately for me, my momma does not tweet...YET.

BUT, it also made me stop and think. What social media sites are our students choosing now? Twitter, Vine, Instagram,, YouTube, Tumbler, SnapChat...and the list goes on and on. Not only are there lots of choices, but it actually seems like some "schools" prefer some sites more than others, some age groups within teens prefer some sites over others, and what is THE BEST one day, may not be the best the next day. (For example, my own teens were on Vine all the time, Instagram enters the picture creating the ability to video and now they rarely Vine. That is not always the case but for my kids: One day Vine is hot, the next day it is not.)

What does it matter? I feel like as a school body we have a responsibility to teach our students to be responsible on these sites but we also have a responsibility to help parents stay "in the know." Not every parent has the time to navigate #edtech and #socialmedia hashtags to read the latest breaking news. (Oddly to me, there are few parents that find joy in all this like I do.) <---Read sarcastically.

So how do we do this? At our school we are creating a "tech council" comprised of students, teachers, administrators and parents for discussions on subject matter like social media and other issues regarding technology and education. I am excited about this! For me, right now it is fairly easy to see what is "trending" at our school because I have two high school students...but it will not always be that way. Someone else will have to tell me what their kids downloaded last night. This will be a great way for our school to not only stay aware of the latest, greatest technology app but it will also allow for open dialogue and communication in how it effects all of us at every age level.

My "mantra" for this year has been "PROACTIVE NOT REACTIVE." I think this tech council is a step in the right direction to keep us in that mindset.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

You are more like your students than you think...Training reflections from a sassy techie

After spending a few days training teachers regarding educational technology I came to the conclusion that we, as teachers, are often more like our students than we realize.
  • Some of the teachers were digital immigrants (born before the 1960s), some teachers were digital natives (born after 1960s)...but age was not always an indicator of ease of use with technology.
  • Some teachers were feeling unprepared for the school year and the technology being used.
  • Some teachers were excited about the technology efficiencies they can experience.
  • Some teachers were overwhelmed with information overload.
  • Some teachers were using their technology (phones, laptops, iPads) to be off-task during my presentations.
  • Some teachers felt that they had a gazillion better things to do than listen to what I had to say and suggest.
  • Some teachers hung onto my every word and were researching things I said during my presentation or creating their first form before the 50 minutes was up.
  • Some teachers were busy chatting with the person next to them...sometimes about the presentation and sometimes about what was for lunch.
  • Some teachers were talking under their breath about how they wouldn't be using the ideas I suggested.
  • Some teachers thought they already knew everything about the subject area and this was a waste of their time.
  • Some teachers felt scared by the technology and worried they won't be able to get on board like they should.
  • Some teachers were combative about some of the decisions regarding app and software decisions made by the school.
  • Some teachers were grateful for the ideas.
  • Some teachers were tired from full days of "learning."
  • Some teachers were just waiting for the 50 minutes to be up.
  • Some teachers wanted help after class.

So I walked away from these meetings thinking:

  1. We do the things we complain about regarding our students when we are "students." 
  2. We must model good digital citizenship if we expect our students to be good digital citizens.
  3. In every classroom we have both confident and petrified students.

I leave you with these thoughts:
As this school year progresses, remember what your actions and the actions of the adults around you looked like during in-service. Perhaps this means we need to make our lessons more engaging. Perhaps it means we need to meet one-on-one with the student with a sour look on their face to ascertain what is REALLY going on with this kid. Perhaps it means we need to be more supportive. Perhaps it means occasionally we are all off task and feel exhausted from learning ALL. DAY. LONG...You are more like your students than you think and this is a perfect time for that realization to hit you. Let it sink in, it might just make you a more compassionate teacher for this coming year.