Starting to Pull Citizenship, Leadership, and Literacy Together

I’m spending some time pulling various threads of readings, conversations, and writing together.

Here’s my first effort to think about what it is that high school students need to know and to be able to do:

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But, I’m missing things. In my sketchnote above, I’m really thinking about digital safety. There’s way more that high school students need. Going back to the drawing board, literally.

Watch for my remix tomorrow.

Developing #digcit

This is the last of the three part series responding to the #slc2016 created by our Professional Development coordinator, Katie McFarland (@Katiemc827). The last part of the challenge was to create an assignment for students to help them develop as digital citizens.

To be honest, I really struggled with this part of the challenge. To accomplish it, I went to some of the resources Katie shared, such as Common Sense Media, and I also did the standard Google and Youtube searches. I spent time looking at the Cybraryman to see what he had on the topic, as well as looking at Kathy Schrock’s page to see what she had to say.

Part of my struggle, at this point, was that I felt completely overwhelmed. Too much stuff to wade through. Understand, there’s a lot of good stuff. It seems that Common Sense Media’s page is the go-to place for THE digital citizenship curriculum. But, once I started to look at the different strands, I thought, “What part should I do?” and “Should I do all of this?”

In the back of my mind, I had a fear. Would any of this be real for my students. I voiced as much to my colleagues: I see the need for digital citizenship for my students, in the same way I see the need to teach study skills, character education. However, often when we get into lessons about note taking and time management, we find them to be deadly dull and the kids don’t always see the benefits and applications.

So, for a couple of days, I sat and let things ferment, percolate, and then I sat in on the #slc2016 Twitter chat on digital citizenship, and things began to come together for me.

Here’s some of what helped:

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Through this student’s tweet to me, about something small like doing a Google search of the self, is one way that we can help build the digital citizen. It didn’t have to be a binder full of a multi-week curriculum. It had to be small, meaningful, discreet activities. Well-planned and with context…and, I thought to myself, making a metaphorical slap to the forhead, “You big, dummy. It’s Beginning teaching 101.”

Once past my teaching-block, the ideas began to come forth. Here’s some of the take away I’ve had this morning:

  1. Authenticity. One of the biggest problems, in a long list of problems, I see as a writing and composition teacher in our tests and in the writing assignments given to students is that they lack authenticity. They don’t present students with real world writing situations and real world audiences. Thus, students aren’t prepared to write for actual, living, breathing human beings. They don’t have a sense of how their writing might be perceived by others, how it might be physically held, where it might be found. Student writing exists in a vacuum of in basket, rubric markings, out basket, binder. However, students write all the time: on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, on their phones, in text messages. And, when they write, and they do things that make us cringe–they don’t act as good digital citizens–it’s because they don’t realize that they are ineffectively communicating.
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My breakthrough last night during the #slc2016 Twitter chat.

For me, understanding my role as a teacher of digital citizenship is tied together with my role as a teacher of communication–not separate from. In essence, when I teach digital citizenship, I’m asking students to consider what they are communicating about themselves to others. Seeing digital citizenship in the context of the writing situation– purpose, audience, subject, self–brought this into focus with clarity.

2. Small, manageable bits. In my new “Media Maker” course, I’m worried about students posting content to their blogs which may be inappropriate, rash, without thought and without care for themselves or for others. And, I’ve struggled with how to make this point meaningfully to students and help them be aware of this, because it speaks to my concerns about writing above. I’m giving students the power to write about their passions and interests, and I’m giving it to students who have been writing in a vacuum. They will be writing with real purposes and audiences, I think, maybe, for the first time in their lives.

To address this, and to take on my need for teaching digital citizenship, I’m going to offer challenges to students in each of the projects of this class.

So, for example, in the first project, we will focus on digital footprints. In the next unit, as we start to look at bringing in outside sources to our writing, we’ll look at acknowledgement. Thus, digital citizenship, composition go hand-in-hand.

It was a great couple of days for me in the #slc2016 to really get motivated around these new aspects of learning and action steps for the coming fall. Time to get lesson planning.



From the Frontiers of Digital Leadership

Our Summer Learning Challenge this week was to explore ways that we could become digital leaders, moving from the simple digital citizen. This post explores the first part of the challenge.

The first part of the challenge asked us to predict the outcomes of Googling ourselves. Then, to do it, and then essentially to reflect on these predictions and outcomes.

I’ve heard about people doing this, and I’ve never done it primarily because I don’t see myself as all that interesting. I know the stuff that I do, and that’s good enough. Yet, when I considered doing it, my first reaction was to feel fear. What would I find? Would there be anything embarrassing? What would I do if such a thing came to light?

It’s important to note that, most of the time,  I use my active imagination not for creative  ventures, but instead to let my anxiety and paranoia get the best of my heart rate and blood pressure.

Predictions for what Google would reveal about me: my races, my blog, my social media presence on Twitter, Facebook. Maybe LinkedIn (but I haven’t updated that profile in five years). I also figured there would be pictures from the newspaper of family members who have recently died.

Here’s what I saw:

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So, yep, there were the profile pics from my Twitter and blog, a picture of my daughter that float around social media, the pictures that I figured would be there of my mom and grandfather who died in the past year.

There’s a picture I put up on Twitter from several years ago after a frost run in Mendon Ponds park and the header image of my blog from the top of the gorge in Robert Tremain State Park.

Then, I also had a laugh. There was a picture of my builidng principal, Vern Tenney, and our out-going Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, Julie Winston. My good friend Tony’s profile picture is there. Anyone who Googled me, and saw them…well, that would be a Freaky Friday.

Beyond that, there were a bunch of images of people I don’t know, have never seen and could only guess at how they were linked with me.

My other accounts came up: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress. I try to keep my facebook locked-down, but everything else is the way it should be. Because most of the races I run are catalogued in, I could see those results listed there. Also, because I’m a public employee, the link to finding my salary is given there too.

I liken the experience of Googling the self to getting a credit report or checking bank accounts for signs of fraud and hacking. It’s a great way to take stock of what you look like to pretty much anyone else in the world who may care to take note. It’s a reminder that your presence is there, that it can be accessed, taken and used in the broadest meanings of those words. There are media outlets and creations, such as this blog and my Twitter feed, where I work to be a responsible part of a conversations which are important to my life. It’s also a reminder, that through my job as a teacher, I’m part of conversations whether I want to be or not.