LINK to SlideDeck with full teacher interviews and project information, including reflections and student evidence
Moving into the 2019-2020 year I knew that a growth area for our school was Digital Citizenship (DC), especially in the elementary panel. There had been some work around DC in the past, but never in an organized and logical manner. When I met with the elementary leadership team it was decided to utilize the lessons from Common Sense Media on DC. In the middle school we also decided to use the lessons from Common Sense Media. The Head of PE is Common Sense Media Certified and had been using the lessons prior. These are well organized, backed by research, and tied to the ISTE standards.
We decided to start with grades 3 to 5 as these students use devices regularly. In grade 3 students are introduced to Chromebooks and they continue to use them through grade 5. For the purposes of this project, I will be speaking to my experiences with grades 3 and grade 5 and the student learning that took place around the digital citizenship lessons and the ISTE standards. With these grades, I had the opportunity to co-teach many of the lessons and be part of the classroom experience. The grade 4 teachers were teaching the Common Sense Media DC lessons as well, but I did not co-teach those lessons, as I have children in two of the three classes.
One of the first things I noticed about our ES students at ISC was that many of them had cell phones. Of course they were not allowed to use them during the day, but as soon as 3:30pm hit, phones were out of bags and students were on social media, namely WhatsApp, Instagram, and TikTok. Common Sense Media rates WhatsApp, 14+, Instagram 15+, and TikTok 15+. So I knew we had some work to do, with both students and parents. This being the first time Digital Citizenship lessons were being introduced in a formal way into the ES classrooms, I knew we had nowhere to go but up.
The anticipated impact for grades 3-5 was simply: to have them think about their actions, have planned conversations around digital citizenship and social media, and begin to make small changes in their behaviour. Additionally, it was to have them go home and have conversations with their parents around Digital Citizenship and their use of Social Media. To encourage parents to be part of the process, I co-presented with our Literacy Coach to parents on Literacy in a Digital Age to raise awareness with the parents about the importance of literacy and the impacts of screen time, and to send parent home with conversation starters.
The intended outcome in introducing these lessons and this program would be that over time we would have more conscientious students and parents when it came to Digital Citizenship and Social Media. Furthermore, this would be part of helping to create a school where these learnings and expectations were part of ISC culture.
Reflections on Project
Unfortunately, I did not reach my goal. The goal from the outset was to get through all six lessons for grades 3-5. Unfortunately, we only were able to get through half of the lessons before we went virtual and left campus. My original plan was to take the last three lessons and begin filming parts of them, along with student interviews now that the students were comfortable with me in the classroom. On the bright side, we got through 3 of the lessons, and I have good relationships built with the teachers and students; a good jumping off point for next year.
The project would have never have launched without the buy in from grades 3-5 teachers. Time is always precious in an elementary classroom, so these teachers not only had to see value in what was being proposed, but also allow their spaces to be opened up, so I could co-teach alongside them. I initiated the conversation by reaching out to grade level teams and asking to join one of their meetings. There was no resistance from any of the teams, which is great. Additionally, as mentioned above, I met with the middle school advisory team, and brought the grades 6-8 lessons to them, these were also incorporated into their program this year.
For me this certification has not caused me to move away from traditional approaches, but reinforced my belief and resolve to do so. I would consider myself a non-traditional educator on many fronts; I don’t believe in testing, I believe in authentic, student driven assessment, I think feedback is more important than scores, and I believe in standards referenced grading. COETAIL has provided many opportunities to put this into practice, and to open up a dialogue with other educators around this belief.
Next year I would like to collaborate with the teachers and develop a pre-assessment for the classes prior to starting the official lessons from Common Sense Media. This of course would be to assess where the students are, but also to help me to begin to build a relationship with the students. Additionally, I would add in a reflection tool at the end of every lesson. This would be to better assess the learning that took place, and where gaps might exist. Then allow us to re-teach and reinforce key concepts.
Some of the lessons have extension activities for home, but I think more targeted follow up after each lesson with our families would be a great extension activity. As I mentioned earlier, the Literacy Coach and I did present to parents, but that only reaches those parents who chose to attend at the school. By sending home extension activities or conversation starters for the home, and putting these in our LMS, the reach would be further, and hopefully keep the conversation and learning going at home.
Our school has not formally adopted the ISTE standards, as a Leadership Team, this was our year to “play with them”, so to speak. With so many grades in ES and MS using these lessons, and they being tied to the ISTE standards it makes sense for us to move forward with them. Additionally, we have recently hired our first Curriculum Coordinator for ISC, which is highly exciting, and she is on board with these standards as well. We have spoken about ISTE certification too, which will be powerful for our school.
Another way that my knowledge will continue to thrive will be with mentorship with our Design and Tech Integrationist, as well as out IT Team. Models such as TPACK and SAMR have been shared with our integrationist and she is now using them to help her frame lessons/units. As we are a small school, from time to time I utilize our IT team for trainings with staff. Teaching them about design principles has helped immensely in how they design and deliver material. Additionally, two of the concepts from Deep Learning conversations that were impactful were PBL and Design Thinking. Both of these are incorporated into how units are planned at our school.
For me the greatest learnings to come out of this experience was the growth of my Professional Learning Network and the realization that there is never an end point in the journey. The ideas, concepts, Twitter chats, materials, and camaraderie to come out of this will help me continue to grow, and to challenge what I do.