What is a Digital Citizen anyway??

In a recent post, I discuss an article called How to Teach Kids Social Responsibility in a Connected World and how I was focusing on the second recommendation in this article as part of my major project. To review, the second recommendation states, “Connect your class via social media and allow them to chat, post, and interface in a safe learning environment. Model responsible virtual social behaviors — blogging, vloging, Skyping, texting, and emailing. Set classroom norms for internet engagement, and give students tools and strategies for how to respond when they encounter inappropriate virtual communication” (Kristina Macbury, 2017, Common Sense Media). So far, as part of our digital citizenship unit, we have discussed rules for navigating the Internet safely, what information should be kept private and what it means to have a digital footprint.

This week, we discussed two new concepts: digital citizenship and cyber bullying. To teach this lesson, I used a variety of tools over two days including: the Rings of Responsibility lesson, the Screen Out the Mean lesson and the Power of Words lesson from Common Sense Media and the It’s Cool to Be Kind lesson from Google’s Be Internet Awesome Curriculum. I am really enjoying the lessons created on the Common Sense Media site and am using bits and pieces of a variety of lessons to differentiate for my group of students.

On the first day…

First we discussed what kinds of responsibilities we had IRL (in real life) to ourselves, our families/friends and our communities. Then we discussed how these responsibilities transferred to the online realm. Some examples (of many) that they came up with:

  • don’t litter (community)
  • don’t post random things or put too many emojis in your comments (only post what is helpful or necessary)
  • be respectful (family/friends)
  • post respectful comments
  • do your homework/chores (self)
  • don’t spend too much time online [I am constantly reminding them to play outside!]
  • go on Mathletics or RAZ Kids at home

We also used this video to help guide some of our discussions:

During the first lesson, we decided to focus on the responsibility of being kind. The students read about an example of a friend who took their login information on a gaming site and used it to destroy what the other person had set up on their game (see Screen Out the Mean lesson for the story). This opened up an opportunity for discussion about how cyber bullying isn’t just saying mean things, it can include other actions as well. Students were open about experiences they had with different examples of cyber bullying, how it made them feel when it happened to them or they saw it happening to someone else and talked about some steps to respond to the problem of cyber bullying.

On the second day…

This time we took the concept of digital citizenship a bit further by looking at this poster:



I particularly like this poster because it connects the “rules” about being a good digital citizen to different body parts. We stood up an did a movement activity as we went over the different rules and why the author of the poster chose to (author’s craft!) associate those body parts with that particular rule.

Next we previewed the video “The Power of Words“. Just prior, we talked about the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me”. Many students raised their hands to say they had heard this from an adult before. The video however, shows one character calling another character hurtful names. What I loved about the video was that it showed the words coming out of the computer screen and hitting the victim of the bullying in the face. Words can hurt you is the message clearly conveyed. Many students knew this to be true, others did not. This led to discussion about how words can hurt feelings and that feelings come from your brain…

The students worked with a partner to complete the following activity which featured a student repeatedly receiving unkind messages on a chat site. IMG_1946

After completing this activity with a partner, we met as a group to discuss our answers (this is where the empathy piece comes in!) Looking back to the recommendation from the How to Teach Kids Social Responsibility in a Connected World article (discussed at the start of this post), the author suggests “give students tools and strategies for how to respond when they encounter inappropriate virtual communication” (Kristina Macbury, 2017, Common Sense Media) which is exactly what we did in the lesson. Unfortunately, what you don’t get to see is the rich conversation that this assignment sparked when we met as a whole group including their suggestions about strategies to help solve this type of situation.

Attached to the Power of Words lesson is the following assessment which the students completed to hand in at the end of the lesson.

Later that afternoon, we reviewed what we had learned about being a digital citizen and how that might relate to our use of the Seesaw app. We used the following poster to make connections between the “Post Your Wow Work” section and our responsibilities to ourselves and community by filling the Internet with a positive digital footprint (instead of litter!). They also made connections to the “Only Share Public Information” (or personal, as we defined it) to our learning about personal and private information. We will continue to revisit this poster throughout our learning about digital citizenship and Seesaw work.

If you have read my Why Teach Digital Citizenship? post, you will know that I haven’t taught about digital citizenship before this course. I must say that I am loving it! I am so impressed with how much the kids already know and can contribute to our discussions. Simultaneously, I see the gaps that are being filled in their understanding through our time spent on this topic in the classroom. We are certainly making headway!

The best part was one of the parents emailing a YouTube video of their child retelling what they had learned so far about digital citizenship. We played it for the whole class the next day!

Later that week, we explored the What’s Cyberbullying? lesson from Common Sense Media. Here is the diagram the students came up with comparing in-person and online bullying: thumbnail_IMG_1969



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