While researching ISTE Standard 4 in class, we were asked to create a Glogster that addresses digital citizenship. My finished product addresses questions students should ask themselves before posting on any website – whether for personal or school use. While it is not necessarily appropriate for my second graders, many students don’t understand the consequences of what they are posting until it is too late. I wanted to address a few traps that I had been caught in when I was younger: not remembering that there is a human with emotions on the other side of the line, giving out personal information, misinterpreting others, and being a little…erm…free with my word choice. This was when I was about 12 – before my parents even realized I was using chat rooms, so they had no time to address the problem until I had already put myself at risk. For me, this poster is personal.
Glogster is a blogging format that, instead of being text-based, is created using images and graphics. While the end products I have seen are fantastic, I had some difficulty using the format. As I went, it became a little simpler, but as a child of the Northwest, I kept wishing it was more like Microsoft Publisher. As a linear thinker, it is hard for me to be creative without it turning out a jumbled mess – honestly, I cut a lot of the words I originally had and still feel like the final product is very text-heavy. While Glogster is great, especially for creative people, it’s not for me. Since I am only on a free trial, I’ll just stick with Publisher.
In addressing ISTE Standard 4: Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility, we were asked to reflect on the question of How can you demonstrate understanding of local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in your professional practice? Teachers have the responsibility their students to model good practices using technology. We should practice what we preach because students will notice if we set different standards for ourself than we do for them. In the primary grades, though, it is up to us to teach the basics about Internet safety, as their exposure to technology will increase rapidly throughout the coming years.
In reflecting on the trigger question, I decided my focus question for research would be: How do I introduce students to Internet safety and etiquette in an age-appropriate manner, better preparing them for what they will encounter in later grades?
My search continually brought me to pages for intermediate and middle school curriculum. Resources for basic primary-level introductions to internet safety were lacking, which was scary since many students find themselves online at or before the primary ages. I found a BrainPOP video about Internet safety, but it seemed to be a little advanced for such a young age. BrainPOP, however, also has a primary component called BrainPOP Jr. They also had an Internet Safety video and accompanying activities. While BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. are both subscription video services, these videos are free to use without pay. The video focuses on many things students may encounter online: stranger danger, not giving out personal information, notifying an adult if anything seems strange, and only using adult-approved websites. According to Ribble and Miller, “Students need to realize that when they feel uncomfortable in a situation, they need to report it to someone in authority” (2013, p. 140) and this curriculum addresses this recommendation at an early age. I think this may be a great introduction to Internet use at the beginning of the year – perhaps requiring they complete the quiz and review it with their parents before they can use the Internet for classwork.
My classmates recommended other resources that included interactive games. While BrainPOP is fun for whole-group instruction, when students have the resources to do activities as individuals, it could become a more meaningful lesson. My group member, Darryl, showed me Disney Australia’s Surf Swell Island, which allows students to adventure with Mickey and friends to collect gems by answering questions about Internet safety and Netiquette. Kids could enjoy answering questions with the familiar faces, but would need to be taught some of the vocabulary and information prior to playing – it could surely be used as an assessment tool, though.
Audrey and Courtney both shared examples of how other teachers are helping their students learn about Internet safety and citizenship. Courtney’s resource, a video from The Teaching Channel in collaboration with Common Sense Media, shows a teacher’s lesson about Internet safety as taught through creating superheroes in comics and pitting them against the evils that can be found on the web. This is very interactive and allows students to place themselves in the superhero world while solving real-world problems that can arise. Audrey’s resource, a blog post from Jacqui Murray, is essentially a lesson plan that she used to teach her 2nd graders about digital citizenship. It includes a list of resources that can be used throughout the year to touch up on the things they learned through this lesson.
These lessons can be taught over a computer or without the use of technology. They can be whole-group instruction or focused on individual progress through an activity or lesson. There are so many different ways others have introduced Internet safety – and it is never too soon to prepare our students for the dangers that await them online. Of course, I think a key piece is to make parents aware of the dangers that can be present, even at a young age. Most of students’ Internet use at this age is going to be at home or on a parent’s smartphone or tablet. Giving parents tips on how to ensure their child’s safety online and having students discuss what they learn with their parents could be the key to keeping kids safe 24/7. This Hand-out is a flier I created to give to parents when teaching the unit on Internet safety.
Ribble, M. and Miller, T. N. (2013). Educational leadership in an online world: Connecting students to technology responsibly, safely, and ethically. Journal of asynchronous learning networks 17(1) p. 137-145.
In addressing ISTE Standard 2: Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments, we were asked to reflect on the question of How can you design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessments that incorporate contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning and develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the student ISTE and State standards? This question was very broad, and fairly wordy, so I dissected it into parts. I could focus on one of many pieces, but decided to key in on authentic learning experiences and maximize content learning For students to be truly engaged and excited about their limited time on the Internet, I thought it would be useful to have students guide their own exploration. Unfortunately, that comes with the issues of focus and safety for students in their Internet use.
Given the problems with allowing students to guide their own learning, I decided my focus question for research would be: How do I allow my students more freedom on the Internet to research topics of their choice while ensuring they stay on-task and safe on the web?
In researching this question, I was hoping to find one specific answer. However, in education, nothing is ever that simple. It seems as if the best method in helping students stay on task is actually a multitude of methods, some having more to do with good practices in the classroom than practices that are only applied to technology time.
The first idea was to purchase a system that allows teacher to see what their students were doing, as well as lock out keyboards, screens, and mouses for students to better focus during instruction. While there was little public information on the price of these products, but I found an article about a program called LanSchool that was installed in the Lake Washington School District (McCrea, 2009). While the article was focused on secondary students, it showed that these resources can be useful to any teacher who would like to monitor their students’ activities on the web as well as have a way to ensure students will not be on their computers during instruction time. I was later told by a classmate, Darryl, that programs like LanSchool cost about $7 per student. While that would be a wonderful tool for teachers, budgets don’t often accommodate for tools like these.
The next idea was that best practices are best practices. Period. Whether on computers or using chalk and erasers, having a solid lesson plan and engaging material is going to provide the best assurance for a focused classroom. This blog post from an English Language teacher, recommended by my classmate Audrey, provides some basic tips on helping keep students focused. They include having a well-thought-out plan for the task, time limits on benchmarks, and reminding students that computers at school serve a different purpose than computers at home (Salsbury, 2011).
If we expect students to behave in a certain way when using technology, we should not assume students know this. We must be explicit in teaching students what to do and how to do it, especially when their understanding of how to use the Internet is almost completely based in their at-home use. According to Orlando, “Assuming that your students will pick up a new technology on their own is a recipe for disaster. You must also be explicit about how you want them to use these systems to avoid them going off in the wrong direction” (2011, p. 9). Showing students what to do before they are set off to do it on their own, or using a screencast to later show students who are absent, can help students better understand expectations on the Internet.
In the end, though, keeping students on task and safe on the Internet is truly about knowing and being able to trust your students. Using monitoring programs, creating an engaging task, and showing them what to do can only go so far if your students cannot earn or keep your trust. Ensure that they know that technology use is a privilege, not a right, in today’s classrooms.
McCrea, B. (2009). Keeping on task in a digital environment. Retrieved from http://thejournal.com/articles/2009/12/03/keeping-on-task-in-a-digital-environment.aspx
Orlando, J. (2011). Save Time and Teach Better with Screencasting. Teaching with technology: Tools and strategies to improve student learning. Retrieved from https://bbweb-prod.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-921629-dt-content-rid-1638776_1/courses/EDTC6433_Y1201342/Teaching%20with%20Technology%20Tools%20and%20Orlando.pdf
Salsbury,M. (2011, November 5). Zeitguest: Keeping students on task online. Retrieved from http://www.teachthemenglish.com/2011/11/zeitguest-keeping-students-on-task-online-by-marina-salsbury/