Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pirie Citizenship in the Digital Age, Stacie Bell, Librarian, Pirie Elementary School

As my students gain more access to technology, I have become more concerned with how they interact with that technology. Many of the programs I envision using with students will allow them to interact with each other and the rest of the world. In the past, when I talked to my students about online safety, most of the concepts tended to be abstract. With the addition of 19 Chromebooks to my Library, I have made more of an effort to include these topics in my curriculum.

Using  lessons from both BrainPop and Common Sense’s Digital Passport, I have begun a unit with my 4th-6th graders on digital citizenship. While using Digital Passport, we are discussing how technology can be a distraction, respecting privacy, cyberbullying, copyright issues, and keyword searches. Each unit has a game, questions to answer and an extension activity. The activities are very engaging and let students work at their own pace. The online version is free and allows teachers to create and track classes. I have found however, that in order to use this program with the iPad, you need to purchase an app for $3.99.

My students have also been furthering these discussions using BrainPop. This online program is based on a subscription, which I am very fortunate to have at my school. BrainPop offers short, animated videos on many topics, including digital citizenship. As a class, we watch and discuss the videos. BrainPop also provides quizzes, articles, and enables students to create mind maps based on what they learned.

By utilizing these programs, I am hopeful that my students will become better acclimated in how to behave in the digital world they often spend so much time in. I expect to see my students be more respectful and courteous even when they are only virtually interacting with someone. I am also looking to see students be mindful of their own security by protecting passwords and their online identity, and monitoring what personal information and photos they post. These real life skills will allow my students to navigate through the 21st Century and more comfortably access the vast amounts of knowledge offered.

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