Digital Citizenship in Schools

Digital citizenship in schools is very much like the Woody and Buzz meme; it’s there and some teachers are excited to explore it, share it with others, take on this becoming more apparent need of curriculum and others are terrified like Woody. Not sure where to start, never even heard of the concept, see it as completely foreign planet.

Are there Roles?

Technically yes for my grade level, which until I did not realize till I went “digging” into my curriculum looking for it, I found it under my health which makes perfect sense; Understanding, Skills, Confidences, 4.4 Determine basic personal responsibility for safety and protection in various environments/situations. Within the indicators I located many that tie into cyber safety, cyber etiquette, responsible use of electronic networks. However the indicators are not the mandatory parts to which we need to teach so teachers have the professional autonomy to decide how to best meet the outcome and unfortunately if they are the Woody they will not choose to venture down the digital citizenship side of things. This I don’t see as a “bad teacher” shaming moment, I see this as an opportunity for the serious need for professional development that needs to be provide to all teachers; Gerry discussed this in his articles he shared last week. I am a Woody who is venturing out to the Buzz Lightyear side, exploring a whole new planet that I knew existed but was afraid and uneducated not only about the importance this area needs to be taught but uneducated in how to teach it (insert-this is why I am back taking my masters, I have this need to keep learning).

In our school I do not see any ongoing practices currently in place that focus around digital citizenship. I see our upper grades immersing themselves into Edsby for finding assignment directions, worksheets, and submitting work but I am not hearing about any learning that has to do with Mike Ribble’s 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship. Occasionally we will have our Community officer come into classrooms to give presentations based around posting of private pictures online, online bullying, and giving personal information to strangers BUT this happens once and then it is not talked about again; almost like a check mark made on a list and now it’s done.

Envisioning the Future

So much work needs to be done that I see a serious need for a collaborative approach. Something that needs involvement from our division team and administration. We need the division to provide learning opportunities and guidelines to teachers; a supplemental curriculum prepared and approved with appropriate learning materials that are easy to use, low prep, blackline masters included, grade level appropriate, and ties into present curriculum. Common Sense Education already has much work already done, and Durston has already offered many other websites that would make putting together such learning materials less daunting. I would like to be apart of that change.

But for now…

I have already taken on the suggestions and resources mentioned by classmates and I have presented to my principal about having our SCC host a parent night based around social media and children. Teaching parents how to support the learning of their children in this digital age. I feel I may become an advocate and encourager for our school to transition towards the inclusion of teaching digital citizenship; my principal was very excited to present this idea to our SCC.

In my classroom I am going to be creating a new unit based on the indicators USC 4.4 that have a strong digital citizenship presence. This past week we focused on Anti Bullying lessons and I had included “The Power of Words” from Common Sense that “Help(s) your students build empathy for othersĀ and learn strategies to use when confronted with cyberbullying”. It was very user friendly and I felt was a great way to begin this new unit. The feedback I received from my students was so positive and left me feeling empowered to continue with it, and feeling that it is possible even with 8 and 9 year olds.

Below are health curricular connections I have located for each grade that can connect to teaching of digital citizenship; there are more I only included one per grade

Grade 1 & 2- No direct connection to any use on media

Grade 3- USC 3.6– Distinguish between examples of real violence (e.g., schoolyard fights, shaking a baby, bullying) and fictional violence (e.g., cartoons, world wrestling entertainment, video games) and determine the influence of both on health and well-being. Indicators (a), (d), (e), (f), (g)

Grade 4- USC 4.4- Determine basic personal responsibility for safety and protection in various environments/situations. Indicators (a), (b) ,(d) ,(f), (i), (j)

Grade 5 USC 5.3- Analyze how infectious diseases (including HIV and Hepatitis C) and non-infectious illnesses/diseases challenge holistic well-being. Indicator (a), (b), (c) & USC 5.4- Analyze the connections between personal identity and personal well-being, and establish strategies to develop and support a positive self-image. Indicator (k)

Grade 6- USC 6.6– Develop and demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and personal standards necessary for establishing and supporting safe practices and environments related to various community activities.

Grade 7- USC 7.1– Establish and use strategies to commit to and act upon personal standards (see grade 6) for various aspects of daily living over which an individual has control.

Grade 8- ** No direct connection

Grade 9- USC 9.2 **But not very direct-Analyze how the well-being of self, family, community, and the environment is enhanced by a comprehensive, community approach to safety.

Grade 10-12- No Health curriculums

It seemed to be that there are only brief moments throughout health curriculum where the possibility of digital citizenship could be included, it gets very sparse as our students got older which seemed odd to me but shows there is much room for growth.

6 thoughts on “Digital Citizenship in Schools

  1. It is important to educate parents about digital citizenship. I liked the way you are taking initiative and promoting the digital citizenship curriculum in your school. Common sense education is providing very innovative and interactive lesson plans for all age group students. These lessons are imperative to be done in schools as well as at home. I want to learn more about the activities you are doing related to teaching digital citizenship in your classroom. Keep sharing!

  2. I also agree with the fact that parents and guardians also need to be educated on digital citizenship. Even if we teach it in the classroom, a lot of children use their devices at home. That’s where cyberbullying and internet safety really matter.

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Christine! You did an awesome job finding some curricular outcomes where we could connect digital citizenship education. It is a shame that there are so few spots to make an easy connection and that there is no set curriculum to teach these important topics to students. It seems that it is up to use to figure out how to integrate these teachings into as many subjects as possible.

  4. Awesome post, Christine! I love the “Woody and Buzz” analogy! Thanks for finding some of the curricular connections in our present curriculum. Something that sticks out to me is the lack of any mention of digital citizenship or using technology until Grade 3. While I think this was probably done with the reasoning that this is the age when students are starting to use the internet more independently, I also think it means we are missing out on opportunities to teach these foundational skills to students before they get to this age or point in their digital identities. As an early years teacher, I’ve been struggling with the lack of resources for our youngest learners. This is really sending the message that ‘digital citizenship doesn’t have a place in the early years,’ which I disagree with.

  5. Isn’t it crazy that something so fundamental for setting kiddos up for the future is hidden under a list of at least 6 indicators, all of which are optional? I know we have talked about this before, and the research suggests incorporating it throughout all subjects, however until there is common knowledge and understanding about the topic matter, I think it needs to be a stand-alone subject to ensure that the teaching and learning are happening. As a mom to a toddler, I think that this is such a fundamental learning piece that I hope gets covered in schools, and teaching it at home is one thing, but reinforcing it at school is another. When my kiddo comes home and says that Jimmy’s mom doesn’t think it’s important, or Sally thinks it doesn’t matter, there is a lot more teaching that has to happen to reinforce ‘real news’ rather than the ‘fake news’ that seems to get more ears.

  6. Oh wow.. I just love the way you have started promoting digital literacy in your classroom… I really like the way you linked it with Woody and Buzz. I agree with the fact that not only teachers but parents/guardians must also learn about digital citizenship and should teach their kids.

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