Tag Archives: Digital Citizenship

7 Tips For Integrating Lessons With Social Media

This is a guest post from Amy Williams. Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.

What items come to mind when you think about classroom supplies? Do you envision notebooks and number two pencils? Your list probably included staples like erasers, crayons, and glue sticks, but did you consider how social media can be a powerful learning tool in the classroom?

Social media has the power to take what students enjoy and extend lessons that offer students real world applications. Instilling a love of learning is no easy task, especially in a world that is constantly changing with fancier and brighter screens. Our students’ fascination with technology makes it important for educators to integrate lessons and increase classroom participation by embracing our children’s favorite means of expression: social media.

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The Benefits Of Social Media In The Classroom

Even though social media has gotten a bad rap in the news, it has the possibility to extend learning opportunities beyond the building’s walls. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops are wonderful gadgets, but they can be a real distraction during instruction time. One way to avoid constant technology monitoring is to harness this love for social media and use it productively in the classroom.

Listed below are 6 benefits to using social media in education:

  • Lower-income students will have access to technology and chances to build these skills. Social media has the power to help overcome the digital divide when it comes to different economic groups.
  • It allows quiet or reserved students the opportunity to be heard.
  • It offers relevant ways to check for understanding.
  • Simultaneously fosters learning and technology skills.
  • Activities are shared with authentic audiences.
  • Content is meaningful to our younger generations of visual learners.

7 Tips For Integrating Lessons With Social Media

Integrating social media with our curriculums opens a world of possibilities for a teacher and the classroom. However, teaching with technology often poses it’s own set of problems from equipment failure, down networks, and dead batteries. Social media is no exception and often there will be a few kinks to work out before using it in a lesson.

Here are some suggestions to help bring social media into the classroom:

  • Keep your professional/classroom pages separate from your personal profile.
  • Know the school’s policy on social media and privacy.
  • Get a parent or guardian to sign a permission slip allowing you to post student work or images on class websites.
  • Make sure that students are well versed in social media etiquette.
  • Create classroom accounts for students to limit personal distractions during class.
  • Check the resources and beware of inappropriate pop-ups or advertising.
  • Be familiar with the platform and understand the privacy settings, potential problem areas, and ways to troubleshoot.

Ideas To Bring Social Media To Life

After managing to successfully introduce social media into lessons: the real fun can begin. Here is a compilation of ways teachers have upgraded lesson plans to include social media:

  • Courtesy of Pixabay http://pixabay.com/

    Courtesy of Pixabay http://pixabay.com/

    Create a group or page for each class on a social media outlet. You can post assignments to keep students and parents informed about approaching deadlines or projects.

  • Use Twitter to follow threads or current events by using hashtags to sort topics. Connect with experts, authors, classes around the world, and more by interacting with tweets.
  • Set up a blog to take journaling to a new level! Help students hone their writing skills to create and display their works for a bigger audience. Blogging has the potential for feedback from peers, professionals, and people other than a teacher.
  • Utilize sites like Class Dojo to keep parents informed on class behavior or for positive classroom management.
  • Create concept videos using Vine or YouTube. This can be a group or whole class project that allows students take the reigns while getting creative, having fun, displaying their best work, and gaining a deep understanding of the topic.
  • Use Pinterest boards to organize concept maps for any topic. This works great for biomes, animal classification, heritage studies, and more.
  • Use quiz sites like Kahoot or trivia games to make reviewing topics fun. Students use computers or Smartphones to answer quizzes on various subjects while you are able to measure comprehension.
  • Use Instagram or other photo services to host a scavenger hunt that requires students to post items that fit a certain theme. This can be adjusted to any grade level easily. For instance you can have them look for objects that start with a certain letter or post items that are related to a historical figure.

Educators are always on the lookout for new ways to use social media in the classroom. Do you have any tips for using social media with lessons?

Game-Based Digital Literacy with Digital Compass

This is reblogged from my post on FreeTech4Teachers

Common Sense Media has released Digital Compass, a new tool to teach students about navigating the digital world. The game is targeted at middle school students, an age when most children are getting cell phones and social media accounts (like Facebook and Instagram).

Through playing this digital, “choose your own adventure” game, students explore topics like: cyberbullying & “digital drama,” self-image & identity, internet safety & privacy, creative credit & copyright, as well as relationships & communication. The game is currently available online with iOS, Android, and edmodo apps coming soon.

Common Sense Media also provides…

read the remainder of the article here.

School rule-breakers to hand over Facebook and Twitter passwords

These policies are becoming more prevalent. They draw legitimate concerns about student privacy rights and are reminiscent of “locker searches” but on a much broader scale. Are these practices legal? Are they ethical? Do the ends justify the means?

Creating a Culture of Positive Digital Citizenship

My first session of the day is “Creating a Culture of Positive Digital Citizenship” by Matt Scully and Derrick Willard from Providence Day School. I had the privilege of visiting Providence Day last year when I was in North Carolina for a conference. If you are in the neighborhood, I urge you to drop by. They are a school on the progressive, cutting edge of educational technology while maintaining rigorous academic standards. This is live blogged, so please excuse the typos and some poor phrasing!

Providence Day has published a Professional Development eBook. You can get more of the resources here.

Copy of Providence Country Day School Digital Citizenship Compass http://pddigitalcitizenship.wordpress.com/

Copy of Providence Day School Digital Citizenship Compass
http://pddigitalcitizenship.wordpress.com/

After an exercise in groups where we explored what issues our schools are facing with regards to digital citizenship and actions our school is taking, we explored other group’s answers. Not surprisingly, there was a lot of overlap; social media was a primary concern all around (for both students and faculty), as was online dangers and ethics and student devices. The strongest theme in the room was “control,” control of access and behavior.

We all have different definitions of Digital Citizenship. If you look at DigitalCitizenship.net, they will have a number of definitions and resources for you.

Matt states that at Providence Day, they realized that faculty/staff, students, and parents all needed to be engaged in the conversation about Digital Citizenship. All of the actors have different relationships with technological tools and resources from very savvy to luddite. When they engaged the community at Providence Day, they found that there was a sliding scale between “Appropriate Usage Policies” to “Appropriate Usage Guides.” So this was not a cause and effect punishment type model. Instead, they focus on guiding and then dealing with consequences as necessary. They wanted to provide the community with a common language, so that they could have meaningful conversations. They also wanted to engage the community with programming and resources. They also wanted to make the experience and discussion positive. This is moving away from an an Appropriate Usage Policy model and moving more towards guides. I’m a fan of getting away from “stranger danger” and “danger-tale” stories. Scare tactics may work in the short-term, but they aren’t effective in the long term and do not teach student’s necessary skills.

By bringing parents into the discussion, they could draw on the community to engage students both on and off campus. With a common language, they were able to have more meaningful conversations. When tough discussions had to happen, they could do it effectively. Also, use non-technical language so that it is accessible to those who are slick and savvy or those just getting acquainted with the digital world.

In addition to discussion, they put together an iTunesU iBook. This brought together a series of resources to have discussions or engage activities, geared towards appropriate grade level. Derek is quick to point out that this is not a curriculum, it is a teacher resource. For parents, they recommend “Parenting in the Digital Age.” This was created and curated by Matt and provides resources for parents to engage with their children at home and so that they have the power to engage students.

Digital Parenting 101: An iTunesU Course For Parents

Great resource!

Hooked On Innovation

digitalparentlogo Digital Parenting iTunesU course

Part of having any type of success in a school is to have the support of parents.  While some schools can overcome a lack of parent involvement or support, most depend on the idea that “it takes a village” to raise a child.  The same is true of any successful mobile device initiative.  I’ve had over 50 talks/discussions/trainings with community members and parents in our district since the launch of the LEAP iPad Initiative in Fall of 2011, and that’s still not enough.

We’ve hosted panels of parents discussing their concerns and values with technology use.  We’ve brought in experts on cyber-bullying and internet safety.  We’ve even had back-to-school nights where we’ve invited parents to see and use the device as a child in the classroom would.

Knowledge is a powerful thing and lately, many parents are looking for more and more materials on what to…

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How to Infuse Digital Literacy Throughout Your Curriculum

This is reblogged from my post on PLPVoices.

digital-literacy-250So how are we doing on the push to teach “digital literacy” across the K12 school spectrum? From my perspective as a school-based technology director and history teacher, I’d say not as well as we might wish – in part because our traditional approach to curriculum and instruction wants to sort everything into its place.

Digital literacy is defined as “the ability to effectively and critically navigate, evaluate, and create information using a range of digital technologies.” Many educational and business professional cite is as a critical 21st century skill. Even so, many schools have struggled to adapt it into their curriculum.

This is often because most institutions already have rigorous, established curricula with little wiggle room – and this is especially true in schools subject to state and federal testing. Content becomes king. However, there are ways that schools can adapt these skills into existing structures – integrating them into their current pedagogical framework.

Evaluating online content is a research skill

Administrators often tell me they cannot meet new digital literacy requirements because they cannot add a “digital literacy” course or requirement. Here’s the other way: the need for students to “critically navigate and evaluate” online content is better viewed as an extension of research skills. Just as we don’t teach a class called “research,” we do not need to teach “evaluating online content” as a separate course or unit of study. We should teach research skills in the context of existing subject matter.

For example, when my students do research in US History, they are not only allowed butencouraged to use online content. However, when using internet material (as opposed to a peer reviewed article or an academic book), they need to include further evaluation of the content.

CRAAPtest-visualOne of my favorite tools to use in doing this is the CRAAP test developed by the University of California at Chico. This method requires students to evaluate a source based on its Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. In fact, this method could easily be applied to “traditional” sources as well. (Here’s a public source handout.)

With the rise of academics who write blogs and use social media (such as Twitter and Facebook), and given the wealth of self-published content generally, pertinent information is now moving away from traditional forms. A student in science can learn a great deal from Neil Degrass Tyson’s Podcast; in fact, it’s likely a more accessible medium for young students than his published articles. Additionally, students need to know what online content they can reproduce and how to credit it properly (digital ethics).

The problem students face in the new world is no longer access to information, but rather how to deal with the glut of content that confronts them when they google a research topic. If we want them to effectively navigate online material (as 21st century learners), then research now needs to include not only “traditional” methods and materials, but digital ones as well. We need to ensure that they know how to evaluate a website, a blog post, a tweet, a Facebook entry. These evaluative skills transfer cross curricularly and prepare students for the broader world of online communication.

Engaging online is a modern communication skill

Engaging in effective discourse and debate is a necessary skill that many of us learned in school via class discussions, group activities, classroom debates, in class presentations, etc. Being able to effectively communicate is a requirement to success in many facets of life (academia, business, personal life, etc).

In our emerging digital world, a new medium of exchange has developed: online engagement, especially via social media. Effectively engaging online requires a myriad of skills that we strive to foster in school – effective written communication, brevity and civility. These components are often highlighted in Digital Citizenship programs, but in tradition-bound K12 education, we often deride social media as trite or ineffective.

Brian-MuseHowever, social media use has quickly grown in professional and academic realms. I recently had a conversation with a friend from my high school days, Brian Muse. Brian is a successful attorney with a practice focused on the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). The primary focus of our conversation was the role that social media plays in Brian’s practice.

Even I (an avid proponent of the power of online engagement) was surprised at how much value Brian and his peers put on social media. In addition to maintaining an active Twitter account (with the full encouragement of his firm), he also writes a blog on relevant ADA law.

Brian told me that social media, especially Twitter, is an effective tool for legal professionals in several ways: networking, branding, and research. As an attorney in a dynamic field, it’s his job to predict where the law is going; Twitter serves as an effective crowdsourcing medium for him to take the pulse of labor law. His online presence and engagement (through his blog and Twitter account) allows him to share his knowledge with others and has led to several referrals from attorneys or chambers of commerce.

Speaking both a professional and a parent, Brian told me: “Any child that graduates high school with these skills will have such a leg up in this business world.”

Just as we anticipate that the traditional communication skills we teach children as part of our established curriculum will translate to a broader skill set, so will their ability to engage with people safely and effectively online. Likewise, just as we do not need to establish a separate curriculum or class for “digital literacy,” we can incorporate updated 21st century communication skills across our established curricular models.

Students need to create. Projects become digital.

If you are familiar with the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy, then you know that creation is at the highest order of learning. Teachers recognize this; it’s why we give students various projects and assignments: a science experiment, a research essay, a model UN debate, etc. With new technologies, students have the ability to create dynamic, multi-media projects quickly and easily. By combining these tools with a sophisticated topic, we can engage students in new and creative ways.

For example, my history students make documentaries for class. This project requires that they perform sophisticated research (using both traditional and digital resources), incorporate a variety of media (images, video, sound, etc), they must write, and then they present/peer review in class. This modernized research project addresses all of the elements of digital literacy in my classroom yet doesn’t require additional in or out of class time to implement. It is an effective way to engage my students in effective, 21st century learning.

One reason that teachers are often hesitant to adopt new technologies or give students digitally enhanced assignments is because they themselves are unfamiliar with the available tools – and suppose that giving a “Movie Project” requires that they teach about movie making software. I try to encourage my faculty to “let go.” Tell the students what the final project should look like (such as a video) and then tell them to pick the venue that works best for them to create a finished project.

New technology is easy to use/navigate and with YouTube and online blogs, students can easily teach themselves how to use them. Now this doesn’t mean that faculty should not learn these new tools. In fact, I often challenge my faculty to use MovieMaker for their laptops or iMovie on their iPads to create a video of anything they want (their children, a pet, a favorite sports team).

Not only do they discover how easy it is to use the software, they see how quickly they can overcome any hurdles they encounter in the process. In fact, I often tout creative problem solving as important skill for students to develop – projects like this help them to develop those skills.

Digital Literacy: An everyday dimension of learning

Digital Literacy is a crucial skill that we as educators must foster and encourage in our classrooms (and administrators must support in the broader curriculum). I hope that these examples have helped to demonstrate how 21st century skills do not require additional class time or new course development. They often do require some tweaking of our established curricula.

I strongly encourage administrators to provide robust professional development and learning time for their staff and faculty. Your teachers can integrate digital literacy into everyday learning, provided you share the resources and support they need to shift a traditional curriculum to a more innovative one. If you do, our students will be better digital citizens and curators of online content; a necessary skill for success in the 21st century and a valuable contribution to civil society.

Common Sense Media on the iTunes Store

image-1360x520I love Common Sense Media. They are an excellent resource for parents and teachers for topics such as Digital Citizenship, Online Safety, Online Ethics, Digital Literacy, and more. Best yet, the tools they provide are entirely free!

Check out their free resources on the iTunes store by clicking here; enjoy free iBooks, Apps, and other resources.