When colleagues hear that I use social media with my Grade 6 students, many of them wonder about “digital citizenship.” They worry about what happens when students use these tools irresponsibly. There are always questions about cyber bullying and posting inappropriate content. I understand the concerns because over the years I’ve had my own, but looking at student work tonight, I realized that we need to celebrate the successes as well.
• Students are using Twitter to help educators and students from around the world. Many of my students have created Twitter accounts with their parents, and they follow my tweets. I’ve noticed recently that when I retweet questions from colleagues, these students are responding with answers. They are sharing what they’ve learned to help someone else. This is what responsible online communication is all about.
• Students are using digital tools to extend learning at home. The other day, I gave a group some feedback on a play they wrote. While they made some changes in class, they were talking together at night, and they thought that they could improve their work even more. With the use of FaceTime, instant messaging, and GoogleDocs, they rewrote their play and shared a wonderful final product with the class.
•Students are using blogs to create digital portfolios of their work. Through our Board blogging platform, students have designed their own blogs, and they’re uploading and sharing school work – from various subjects – on their blogs. I can then comment on their posts, and students are using my suggestions to improve their work.
• Students are seeing the value in a private versus a public audience for their work. Our Board blogging platform allows students to set their privacy level on their own blog. The other day, I was talking to a group of students that have private blogs. They explained to me that their blog is still a work in progress, so they wanted to get feedback from me before sharing it with others. Wow! What responsibility.
My students may only be 11 years old, but they are making some incredibly mature online choices. They are thinking about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. They are using social media, and using it well.
How have your students shown digital responsibility? How can we teach all of our students to be responsible digital citizens?
Aviva Dunsiger taught Junior Kindergarten to Grade 2 for 11 years before moving to Grade 6 this year. She’s passionate about using technology in the classroom to support student learning, and she’s presented on this topic numerous times both online and offline.
She enjoys maintaining her blog, Living Avivaloca: My Many Musings on Life and Learning. Aviva’s reflective writing about her professional practice inspires communication between educators, administrators and parents.