A major part of my curriculum is teaching K-8 grades students about digital citizenship. Students are immersed in lessons about digital citizenship and literacy at different levels of sophistication, learning about the what, why, and how of ethical use and … Continue reading
I’ve written earlier about my 4th grade students’ completion of their digital citizenship unit, remarking that their final product was too general and failed to reflect all the different aspects of digital citizenship. So I decided to avoid this pitfall by offering my 5th grade students more structure in creating their final product.
Common Sense Media’s Digital Passport™
First, we began with a review of all the different lessons we learned using Common Sense Media’s Digital Passport™ app for iPad. Through videos and games, the app aims to reinforce key concepts about digital citizenship in five different modules: safety and security, privacy, cyberbullying, responsible cell phone use, and respecting creative work of others. As students work through each module, they collect a badge to ultimately earn their Digital Passport. I thought this would be a fun way to wrap up the lessons and wanted to give it a try after learning the app won a bronze medal at the International Serious Play Awards and was named a “Top 10 Educational Technology You Should Try This Year” in 2012 by eSchoolNews. The classroom version allowed me to set up student accounts and track and measure student progress.
Creating a Product
Students were tasked with creating a product to demonstrate knowledge of one of the concepts of digital citizenship we had studied (Internet safety and privacy, online communication, giving credit, cyberbullying, or digital footprint). Since my 5th grade students are in a 1:1 iPad classroom and quite savvy with a variety of tools, I wanted them to choose the tool they considered the best fit for their purpose. The idea was for them to be as creative as possible in articulating what they had learned about their chosen concept of digital citizenship.
At the same time, as mentioned earlier, I felt the process of creating a product needed to be fairly structured. So I provided the students with a worksheet to guide them by taking notes on the key vocabulary and important points about their topic. Also, students were tasked with developing a motto.
Where appropriate, I’ve been incorporating peer reviews in all of my lessons. It is not only an opportunity for students to review their own work, but also to learn from their peer’s work by gaining a better understanding of the required criteria, possibly triggering further improvement and revision. The larger goal is always to give students more of a stake in their own learning and to understand the importance of quality work.
Many of my students did a wonderful job, using the “Artifact Checklist” not only for peer review but first to ensure their product meets all the required criteria for a quality product. Unfortunately, not all students took advantage of this form of quality check. A few of my 5th graders’ artifacts produced less than satisfying results. In fact, it seems students rushed through the peer review process, quickly checking each box and not offering quality comments. Several of the “completed” checklists show lots of check marks but none of the boxes asking for the key vocabulary or important points filled in.
Producing a Collaborative Emphasis on Quality
Quality work is something I stress with all my students. I give them the time needed to really “go deeper” to focus on a project or product rather than to move on with less than satisfying results. Having students create their own digital products as alternative forms of assessment requires much more time than any traditional forms. So our last lesson was spent on critiquing products the students created. Equipped with the rule to point out something positive and then make a suggestion for improvement, I pulled up each student’s product and let the students provide constructive criticism. This was a great session, which produced a collaborative emphasis on quality. Students then had the option to revise their work. Since our students own blogfolios, the last step was to publish the product along with an explanatory blog post.
Overall, I am happy with the results, with special emphasis placed on going over the product one more time before pressing publish!
Please check out some of the creative products created by my students.
I have been working with my 2nd through 5th grade students on digital citizenship. There are lots of great instructional resources available online, but I have grown partial to Common Sense Media’s lessons and video library. While this not-for-profit organization suggests a scope & sequence for teaching the various topics/building blocks that make up digital citizenship, I’ve decided to adapt some of the lesson plans to better suit my students’ needs. My fourth grade students just completed their last unit lesson, “Digital Citizenship Pledge”. For a final product, they created Digital Citizenship posters.
We began by brainstorming everything we had learned these past few weeks about digital citizenship and discussed adding a motto or slogan to our posters. How do you package a concept like digital citizenship into a few catchy words? Not an easy task for some of the kids, but in the end they came up with great posters.
I do know that the students understand the various elements that make up digital citizenship, but in hindsight I don’t think creating the posters was the best artifact for students to show their learning. This already occurred to me while the students were brainstorming their mottos. Even though we came up with many examples from the advertising world and discussed how mottos are short and catchy, there were still some students whose mottos consisted of two long sentences. Also, while creating this poster was definitely a quick process, it was too general.
So for my 5th grade students, who have also completed the digital citizenship unit, I’ve decided to change things up a bit. I’ve provided more structure in the form of a worksheet. Students are to choose from one of the five main topics we learned about digital citizenship. They then think of a motto, decide on the digital product they plan on creating, and brainstorm important points and key vocabulary they will include in their artifact.
So far, most students have completed the worksheets and I am encouraged by the level of detail they provide and the creativity they show. So stay tuned for a great variety of student-created artifacts about digital citizenship!