The Road to Redefinition


Credit: Laurie Dukes with road graphic from

I love a good road trip!  There’s something so satisfying about planning a journey and setting out towards a destination.  Many of my favorite memories are tied up in road trips with family and friends.  Some of those travels went smoothly, while others involved a few wrong turns and breakdowns.  But regardless of how the trip went, it always felt good to arrive at our destination.

My technology integration experiences have felt a lot like a road trip to me.  I was just going back to read through all the posts here on my blog, and it has been interesting to see where I began and where I am along the journey so far.  Edutopia explains that technology integration is successful when students have daily access to a variety of tools which “match the task at hand and provide them an opportunity to build a deeper understanding of the content.”  This definition has caused me to ask myself that age-old road-trip question:  Are we there yet?

The SAMR model has helped me to put this journey into perspective and consider how far we’ve traveled and which direction we still need to go.   The reality is that my technology road trip has not been without its challenges.  I’ve definitely gotten lost and experienced a few breakdowns along the way.  But I also feel good about the mile markers I’ve reached with my students as we’ve learned to integrate technology more effectively.

Where Am I Now?


Image Credit: Laurie Dukes

Early in my technology integration journey, I was wandering a bit aimlessly and wasn’t really sure where I was headed.  My efforts to use technology were limited to teaching the library catalog and using videos and websites for instruction.  I tried and failed to use 1:1 iPads effectively, because everyone in the school was using different apps, and students didn’t always come prepared with the apps I needed them to use. I found it challenging to complete activities within the short time I had with my students in the Learning Commons each week.  Over the past year, as I’ve read and learned through our Coetail program and participated in the iLearning initiative in our elementary, I’ve begun to find more meaningful ways to make the most of the technology available to us.  Right now, I’d say I’ve arrived at Modification, though I do of course still do some Substitution and Augmentation as well.

Google Docs
Google Docs has become a valued traveling companion on my tech journey.  Many activities which used to be paper-based have easily been modified for online use.  Last year, I took our Battle of the Books online, which made it significantly easier to run, while increasing the quality of the responses I was getting from students.  A simple Google Form allowed me to collect their reading responses and feedback about the books.  All the responses went straight to a spreadsheet, which allowed me to collect valuable data about students’ progress and the effectiveness of the program. Recently, I used Google Forms to conduct a Reading Interest Survey of all my Grade 3-5 students. The students enjoyed taking the survey on their iPads, and now I have a great set of data that I can use to support them as readers.  I was also able to quickly share that data with the students, their homeroom teachers and their parents on my Learning Commons blog.  In addition to forms, Google Docs have been a great option for student work.  Sharing features make it easy for students to collaborate on the same doc, and easy for me to keep track of their progress.  Last year, I used Google Docs for a research template, which was a helpful tool in stepping up our research efforts.

As a librarian, I want my students to engage in meaningful discussion about their reading. Padlets have become one of my favorite tools for reading response, because it’s so quick and easy for students to tap and add their thoughts without having to log into an app.  Not only does this allow me a written record of their thinking, it’s a way to get students from all of my classes connected to one another.  Here’s an example of a reading response Padlet we used last year. Even better, Padlets are an amazing tool for global collaboration. We will be using them this year to share our thinking with other classes around the world during the Global Read Aloud.

Video apps have been invaluable for use during our Learning Commons specials.  The students love to make videos, so we do a lot of video book reviews throughout the year. Sometimes, they also create Book Trailers on iMovie.  Occasionally, they make videos to show their learning, such as these examples of Cyberbullying videos we did last year.

I haven’t done a lot with infographics yet, but I did have my 5th graders create simple reading ads last year to share what they had learned about the cognitive benefits of reading.  This year, I would like to do more with infographics, as it’s a very engaging way for students to showcase their learning.

Other ways we’ve used technology:
Author Skypes
Kahoot quizzes
Digital Passport program
Instructional videos online
Seesaw Digital Portfolios
Blog posts
Intsagram Posts
Electronic Books

While I still have a ways to go on the tech integration highway, I feel good about how far we’ve come, and I’m excited about where we’re headed.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Course 3 Final Project: Building A Learning Commons

Stories have always been an important part of my life.  From a young age, I loved reading stories, listening to stories, and even writing my own stories.  When I first heard the term “Digital Storytelling,” I was immediately intrigued.  I confess that I initially thought it was just a term for those who read aloud picture books and posted them online.  I suppose that does count in a sense, but after taking this course, I realized that the art of digital storytelling is much more than that.

As a librarian, I love telling stories, so I thought I’d try creating a digital story for my final project.  I had an idea to create a story about our Learning Commons and all that we offer to our students.  I was initially very excited about it.  I started writing out a script, taking video, and gathering photos. And then, I tried to put it all together– and hit a wall.

Here are some of the challenges I experienced:
1) My idea just wasn’t coming together.  It didn’t feel enough like a story.
2) I had so much video and so many photos to sift through that I got overwhelmed.
3) I really didn’t want to narrate my video.  I hated how my voice sounded.
4) I soon realized I was iMovie illiterate.  Trying to figure it out made me want to throw my Mac out the window.

I honestly considered just giving up and doing a different project.   I wanted to do something easier and less stressful.  But last week I was reading my students a story about overcoming fears, and I realized that I needed to overcome this one.  So I went back to the drawing board and started again.  As I thought about it, I realized that I had been trying to start in the middle of the story instead of at the beginning.  I was trying to share all the great things happening in our Learning Commons without considering where our story had really begun.

I did finally finish my digital story.  And frankly, it’s not going to win any awards.  It’s a true beginner’s effort with plenty of room for improvement.  I had to watch a tutorial on You Tube just to get the basics of iMovie, so my story doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles (except for one bell at the end).  It’s just images, video, and my own hesitant narration.  I’m insecure about sharing it, but if I want my students to take risks in creating and sharing content, I need to do the same.  And as soon I learn to get along better with my new archnemisis, iMovie, I intend to try this again.  I do love a good story, and there are so many more I would love to create and share.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Reading for Pleasure– Say it With Infographics

As a school librarian, keeping kids motivated to read is my top priority.  While the age of technology is amazing and holds tremendous potential for teaching and learning, it’s also true that kids now have many more distractions pulling them away from reading for pleasure.  They still love a great story, but many of them see no reason to read when they can turn on their mobile device and have their minds instantly engaged by a game, video, or other digital media.

Laurie Dukes via

My deepest concern as a literacy educator is that the trend towards more digital media has led to a decrease in pleasure reading.  More than ever, I feel a need to continue championing books, whether they be print or digital.  I want my students to experience all the cognitive benefits of reading.

Infographics are great, because they are visually appealing and provide information in a simple, easy-to-read format. They are a perfect way to initiate discussions with my elementary students.  I have found so many great literacy-related infographics that I started a Pinterest board to keep track of them all.   Most of the infographics I found on the topic of literacy and pleasure reading were more geared towards parents and educators, but I did find a few that I think will work well for starting a discussion with my students.  In the future, I would love to have them create their own infographics to promote reading as well!
Reading Benefits





Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

A Day in the Learning Commons

Back in the days before I completed my teaching degree, I did a fair bit of educational wandering.  One of my educational adventures was completing a two-year certificate in Travel and Tourism.  I learned all about the tourism industry, from memorizing airport codes to advertising a business and organizing and promoting tours.  So much of tourism was about using the power of the visual to entice people to travel.  Tourism ads aim to help people see themselves as one of the happy, smiling people in the glossy travel brochure or cruise commercial.  It encourages them to make travel part of their personal story.

What’s My Story?

Laurie Dukes

Laurie Dukes

I was really struck by the Australia and particularly the New Zealand tourism videos shared in earlier in the course.  They reminded me of all that I had learned about selling a location to a customer.  As a librarian, I want to similarly promote my Library/Learning Commons as a worthwhile destination. We’ve recently made some exciting changes to our space, so it seems like the perfect opportunity to create a digital story to promote who we are.  Just as the New Zealand video showed us the story of a happy couple enjoying their adventures in a beautiful country, I want to share the story of children enjoying our amazing space on a typical Day in the Learning Commons.

I’m excited to complete this project, but I must confess that it is completely overwhelming me at the moment.  If I’m going to do this, I want to do it right.  So I’m putting my tourism hat back on for a short time to try to view my space from the perspective of someone who is trying to promote it.  What does our destination have to offer?  Why should people come to visit us?  What can they do once they arrive?  What feelings and experiences do I want them to associate with the Learning Commons?  How can I tell a story that will resonate with them and show them how worthwhile it is to spend time with us?


Laurie Dukes via

Telling My Story
Fortunately, I don’t have to wander aimlessly in this first attempt at digital storytelling. There are plenty of helps for those like me who are just beginning.  7 Things You Should Know About Digital Storytelling gave me a good foundation to start with.  I need to think about my audience and the story I want to tell them.  I need to write a script and decide what type of media I will use to bring it to life.  I had originally thought to use a mix of photos, but I’ve decided I will spend a day just videoing everything I can, beginning with the moment I walk into the empty Learning Commons in the morning, and ending with the moment that all is quiet again at the end of the day.  I need to think about the feelings and emotions I want to evoke, and how the images I use will accomplish that.  Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling  helped me to consider what mix of resources will use for my story and how long it should be.  I don’t really want to do a voice-over, so at present, I plan to use a mix of video footage, background music, and text.   I want to keep my story short–ideally no more than 3 minutes, so while I intend to take a lot of video, I will need to carefully select which segments to use to tell the story.

No Time Like the Present
Tomorrow is the beginning of a new school week, so I am planning out my script today in preparation for capturing my story tomorrow.  I know there will be a lot of work ahead in editing the video and finding the right words and music to convey the story, but I look forward to getting started.  I’ve been wanting to do something like this for awhile, and now that I am equipped with more understanding of the process, it’s time to just do it!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Finding My Zen

Photo Credit: tacker via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: tacker via Compfight cc

My first year out of college, I spent a year teaching in Japan.  I have such wonderful memories of my time there.  I really admired the Japanese work ethic and sense of group consciousness. I especially loved the Japanese way of finding beauty in order and simplicity.   This was evident all around me, from serene rock gardens to exquisitely-shaped bonzai trees and perfectly-arranged boxes of bento.  I really came to value the minimalist, uncluttered lifestyle in Japan.  It was one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever lived.

My experiences in Japan came back to me as I learned about Presentation Zen this week.  It was nice to be reminded of that beautiful simplicity.  I would like to capture the spirit of Zen in my presentations and instruction.   It just makes sense to keep my message clear and uncluttered so that the most important points can shine through.  This week’s readings have been very timely for me, as I am in the midst of working on some tutorials to share on my Learning Commons blog. I really want the tutorials to be easy to follow and pleasing to the eye. I’m happy to have learned some skills for creating Zen-tastic presentations that will be effective in sharing the information I need to get out to our ES community.

In addition to creating new tutorials, it’s time for me to dust off and polish up some old presentations. I’ve chosen to start with a presentation about our Follett eBooks, which I originally created for a parent meeting a few years ago.

This is the original presentation that I needed to update:

If I want this presentation to be more Zen, it really needs an overhaul.   I gained some helpful tips about Good Presentation Design from the Presentation Zen blog, Matt Helmke’s Presentation Zen Overview on YouTube, and Don McMillan’s Life After Death by Powerpoint.  McMillan made some fun (and funny) points in his video about what NOT to do in a presentation.  One point that really stood out to me is not to overdo it with text.  I need to use simple text and images which will guide me through the presentation rather than being the entire presentation.  My original presentation is quite cluttered and busy, so I am starting over in an effort to create something more effective.

I have started overhauling this presentation using Zen principles.  This is just the introductory portion, but I feel like it’s a big improvement on my original version.  I tried to use backgrounds and colors that would be easy on the eyes, consistent fonts, more blank space, and simpler text.   I really hope I’m on the right track!  It’s important to me to provide effective presentations which will truly support our ES community in learning about and using our library resources.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bringing them the Universe

Photo Credit: Carbon Arc via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Carbon Arc via Compfight cc

As a young elementary school student (back in the mid-70’s), it was always a thrill to see the school audiovisual aide rolling a projector into our classroom.  It was such a rare treat to watch a film at school.  I sat, mesmerized, as the teacher loaded the reels and carefully threaded the film through the machine.  I remember it so clearly– the clickety-clack of the reels turning, the joy of seeing the images appear on the pull-down screen, the warm air coming off the machine, and the smell of the hot film.  I’ll never forget the teacher’s cry of dismay whenever the film feed got off track and the film would fall off the reel in a loopy mess.  Back in those days, the film projector seemed a wondrous piece of technology to me.  It brought learning to life– whether it was seeing animals in their natural habitats,  learning how people lived in other parts of the world, or viewing the constellations and wonders of the universe.

Visual media has always been a part of the educational experience to some extent, but we are fortunate to teach in a time when we have a vast amount of media available at our fingertips.  In just moments, we can access images and videos to support our instruction.  I’ve always used a lot of visuals in my teaching, but until this week’s readings, I don’t think I fully understood what it means to be visually literate:

Visual Literacy

Visual literacy is about more than just showing a picture to represent a point.  It’s about using images to awaken deeper thought, make connections, evoke emotions, promote discussion, and even to provide a call to action.

Now that I understand this richer definition, I am looking at digital media in an entirely new way.  Sometimes I really do just want a simple visual that will quickly illustrate a point or help students develop some background knowledge.  But I now realize that I’ve been saying too many things with words.  Instead, I should say it with a picture.

As a librarian, I’m always trying to help kids understand the importance of reading and learning.  As I work on branding our Learning Commons, I want to emphasize our mission to help students Wonder, Explore, Discover, and Create.  Rather than just talking about it, I hope to help students discuss it with the help of an image.  I couldn’t find a creative commons image that expressed my message, so I created my own papercraft image using discarded books:

Own Image

Own Image

When I show this to students, I will ask them to turn and talk about what they feel it represents.  We will then share out as a group and connect their responses to our Learning Commons philosophy.  I hope this discussion will help them to recognize that we are not just about checking out books, but about helping them to explore their interests and passions.  I want to nurture curiosity and inspire the pursuit of discovery.  I want them to recognize their highest potential and reach for the stars.  From now on, when I want to illustrate a point, I will seek out thought-provoking visuals to help students on this path of discovery.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Marketing Magic

Created by Laurie Dukes on

Laurie Dukes via

In October, my colleague, Kelly, and I attended a library workshop in the Philippines. I was intrigued by the title of the workshop: “Cultural Weeding.” The presenter, Kevin Hennah, has an extensive background in retail merchandising, and he now uses that expertise to help libraries weed out the irrelevant practices of the past and move our spaces into the culture of the 21st Century.  One thing that really stood out to us at the conference was Hennah’s emphasis on the importance of branding. We had honestly never thought about the need to brand our libraries, but as school librarians, isn’t it our role to promote reading and “market” books to kids?   By using a visual merchandising strategy and branding our Learning Commons, perhaps we can make a more powerful statement about who we are and what we have to offer our school community.

Making Books as Desirable as French Fries

Laurie Dukes via

Marketing is very influential.  Like it or not,  it has a strong impact on our choices.  From an early age, we are conditioned to recognize brands.  As KJ Dell’Antonia emphasized in Preschoolers Know All About Brands, even young children use brands “to assign a quality.” While many adults are deeply concerned by the ways in which marketing is aggressively directed at children, Dell’Antonia makes an excellent point– if marketing has such a powerful influence on kids’ choices, why not use it to promote what is good for them?   What if the same kind of influential marketing that makes them crave McDonalds french fries could be used to make them crave more carrots?  Or in my case as a librarian, what if I could utilize the power of branding to entice kids to crave more books and make the most of our Learning Commons resources?  My Learning Commons blog is my main mode of communication, so how can I make it a more engaging and effective marketing tool for inspiring my students?

Branding My Learning Commons

AIS-RElementaryLearning Common (3)

Laurie Dukes via

I like this idea of using visual marketing to draw kids into the Learning Commons. In our media-driven society, what else is going to capture their attention?  I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can create more awareness of the Learning Commons, our wonderful library collection, our digital resources, and everything else we have to offer.  To start with, I’ve been working on a brand (on left). In his workshop, Hennah emphasized that we should weave our brand throughout everything we do– library signage, promotional materials, blogs, and other forms of communication.  In creating my brand, I tried to Design Better With CRAP and use Visual Hierarchy.  I chose visual elements reminiscent our space, including our Learning Commons paint colors, a graphPresentation (1)ic of our exterior design, and icons to connect our school community to our Learning Commons vision.  The more our community sees our brand, the more they will think of us, and ideally, the more they will make the most of our resources.  I am beginning to use this brand on the title page of my tutorials and other media presentations that will be shared on my blog.

Harnessing the Power of Visual Media

There is no doubt that visual media is powerful.  It has permeated our culture and connected the world.  I want to harness this power to not only communicate effectively with our school community, but to motivate and inspire them.  A paper poster with an inspiring quote just isn’t going to cut it anymore.  As George Lucas said, if we’re not using today’s tools, we need to “wake up!”  He reminds us that graphics, music, and cinema are deeply intertwined with young people’s culture, so we need to use these forms of communication to reach them.  It’s time for me to start getting creative.  I’m now working on planning video tutorials, video book talks, book trailers, and even a music video in an effort to catch my students’ attention.  I’m looking at how I can improve my Learning Commons Blog to communicate more effectively with  students and parents and make it a resource more worth visiting.

Adopting a marketing strategy for my Learning Commons has really opened my eyes to see all the possibilities for using visual media to “sell” our books and services.  Now it’s time to take this learning, put it into action, and let visual media work its magic.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Course 2 Final Project: Watch Your Step

I have to admit that I felt a bit anxious when I realized that we were going to have to find a global partner for this project.  As I scanned through the list of possible global partners in Course 2, I felt a bit like I did as a new college freshman, standing in the dormitory dining hall with my tray, looking at the tables full of people and trying to figure out who looked most approachable.  It’s sort of intimidating for me to try to contact people I’ve never met and know nothing about.  So I started reading blogs, About Me pages, Twitter feeds, etc. to try to get to know my fellow Course 2 peers and figure out who I might be able to connect with. When I came across Lulu Chen’s blog, I felt that she would be a great potential partner.  I sent her a message on twitter, and she was kind enough to agree to work with me.  We also invited my awesome colleague, Jason Krugler, to join us since he and Lulu both teach 4th grade and I work with his class regularly in the Learning Commons.

As Lulu mentioned in her post, we mainly collaborated by commenting within our planning doc, but we also exchanged a few emails and Twitter messages.  This was my first time collaborating on a unit with someone outside my school, and it was great being able to work together and share ideas.

We have planned a unit designed to help our students understand the basics of digital citizenship and the importance of a positive digital footprint.  We’ve included a global collaboration piece, as we felt it would be great for our students to connect with one another and practice digital citizenship as they work together on a project. After being introduced to digital citizenship and digital footprints, our students will research a digital citizenship topic. Jason’s 4th graders will be partnered with Lulu’s 4th graders to research the same topic and share their learning in a common Google Doc.  We plan to have the students meet via Skype at the beginning and end of the project to strengthen our ties as global citizens.

Here’s our project!  And wishing you all happy, safe holidays wherever you may be traveling!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Help Them Find Their Voice

LaudamusteI have always been very shy.  Growing up, I was the quiet girl in the back of the class trying very hard to stay under the radar.  My worst fear was that a teacher would call on me, forcing me to speak in front of everyone.  But I loved to sing, so I always joined the choir.   Choir was safe, because there were lots of us singing at once.  I loved hearing my voice harmonizing with those around me, and I felt no need to have my voice heard above the rest.  But my high school choir teacher, Mr. LaPierre, had other ideas.  He wanted to make a soloist out of me.  He told me I was “selfish!, selfish!, selfish!” for holding back my voice out of fear.  I was totally fine with being selfish, but he still made me do a solo.  I was completely mortified as I stood in front of an audience and realized all eyes were on me, but I survived.  I even sang a few more solos after that of my own free will.  I have to admit that it felt really good to have someone value my voice. Without Mr. LaPierre, I likely never would have known or believed that I had a voice worth listening to.

My experiences in high school choir came back to me as I finished watching Scott McLeod’s Ted Talk, Extracurricular Empowerment.”  I was really inspired by McLeod’s message.  In his talk, McLeod shares stories of kids who have successfully found their voice and made their mark online.  He told of a 9-year old girl named Martha, whose blog, Never Seconds raised awareness of the importance of healthy and appealing school lunches. He shared the success of Tavi Gevinson, a teen who created a popular fashion magazine, Rookie.  He also mentioned Nick D’Aloisio, who, at 17-years old sold his news-reading app to Yahoo for millions.  McLeod went on to share the remarkable accomplishments of other kids who have had the confidence and determination to follow their passion and make their voice heard.

Credit: Created by Laurie Dukes on

As I thought about the contributions and successes of these young people, I couldn’t help but wonder how they gained that confidence to share their voice.  Was it something inherent in them, or was it thanks to a parent or teacher, who nudged them along and empowered them to have their say?  It makes me wonder what sort of potential is lying dormant within the hearts and minds of my students.  Could one of them be the next Martha, or Tavi, or Nick?  What are the interests and passions that might drive them to speak their minds?  How  can I nurture their confidence and empower them to share?

Technology has made it possible for everyone, young and old, to connect, collaborate, and contribute to the world online.  As mentioned in Chapter 3 of Linked, “we live in a world where no one is more than a few handshakes away from anyone else.”  We never know how quickly our ideas and content will spread when we place it online.  This is why it’s so important to help our students understand both the power and the responsibility that comes from contributing content to the global community.  As mentioned in This is My Brain on YouTube, about 72 hours of content is placed on YouTube every minute, but “not every video serves a purpose…there is a lot of weird, weird stuff on YouTube.”  These days, people feel comfortable putting just about anything online.  But I want my students to recognize the tremendous potential to really say something.  Something that matters to them. Something that could make a difference.

Even I, the quiet girl, have begun to find my online voice and say some of the things on my mind.  I confess, I still don’t like to “solo.”  I still find safety in singing with the choir.  But I have learned that if I have something to say, it’s okay to say it. I want my students to understand this, too.  While not everyone will necessarily value their perspective, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth sharing.  Some of the greatest movers and shakers in the world have made a difference precisely because they had the courage to say and do something different.

Credit: Laurie Dukes

Credit: Laurie Dukes

I want to share Martha’s story with my students, as well as the stories of other kids who have been successful in making a difference and following their passions online.  Perhaps if they see what other kids have done, they will recognize that they can do something as well.  I’m thinking about offering a sort of Genius Hour after school where I invite students to come to the Learning Commons to discuss things that matter to them and help them find the voice to share their ideas with the world.  If they have something say, I want to help them say it.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Digital Citizenship: A Force For Good

Digital Citizenship Matters

Credit: Created by Laurie Dukes with images from Flair Graphic Design

Last week, our awesome ES tech integration specialist, Sean, stopped by the Learning Commons while we were in the middle of setting up for our Battle of the Books kick-off assembly.  He noticed that we are doing a Star Wars theme this year and asked whether I had seen his latest Coetail post about The Force.  The post is about helping students compare their use of technology to the dark side or light side of The Force.  We discussed that our ongoing Star Wars theme for the Battle of the Books makes this a perfect time to connect the theme to our teaching of digital citizenship as well.   I love conversations like this.  I really appreciate the effort to get on the same page in helping our students become strong digital citizens.

Using Common Language
Mike Ribble, in his article Passport to Digital Citizenship, asked the important question, “Do we have a “common language” that we can use to talk to students and parents about appropriate technology behavior?”  As we move forward in teaching our students digital citizenship, I agree that common language is key.  If students are hearing the same key words and phrases throughout the school, it is much more likely to resonate with them as something truly important.  That’s why I appreciate all the amazing resources available  for finding that common language, such as the ISTE Standards and the Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship.  It’s also important to bring parents in on this common language so that they can support appropriate use of technology at home.  I am currently working on a Libguide that I hope will become a helpful resource for students, teachers, and parents in understanding basic principles of Digital Citizenship  (It’s not done yet, so I will share it in my next post.)

Credit: Sean Walmsley

Credit: Sean Walmsley

Until recently, it was really only the tech teacher in our elementary who explicitly taught digital citizenship, but it is becoming increasingly more evident to me that we all need to be part of this effort.  We all need to emphasize a unified set of guidelines with our students.  For example, as the tech integrationist, Sean teaches his REC program to the students, and this is something that each of us in the elementary should become familiar with so that we can support and reinforce it.  Last week, I added Sean’s REC logo to all of our Learning Commons computers to help students understand that these principles carry throughout the school and aren’t just something they have to worry about in their homerooms or on their own devices.  As I have begun my own digital citizenship lessons, I’ve made it a priority to help students recognize that we are building on the principles they learned in REC.

Credit: Laurie Dukes

Credit: Laurie Dukes

Digital Passport
One way that I’ve been trying to teach Digital Citizenship to my students is through the Common Sense Media Digital Passport program.  The program includes lesson guides to introduce basic digital citizenship principles as well as online modules to teach and reinforce the concepts.  I started using the program with my 5th grade classes in the Learning Commons a few weeks ago, and they are really enjoying it.  For those like me who are just looking for a place to start in teaching digital citizenship, this program is a great jumping off point.  For example, we recently had a good discussion about cyber-bullying thanks to the Digital Passport “Upstander E-volve” module, which helped the students understand the importance of standing up for others to stop cyber-bullying.  The students shared honest fears and concerns about becoming targets themselves if they try to help, and it led to a powerful discussion about having the courage to do the right thing.  We were also able to connect it to our school theme of You, Me, Community and how we are stronger if we stand together. These discussion are crucial in helping students feel empowered to make the right choices and stay on the light side of the force.  As we learned in Star Wars, fear can lead us to the dark side, and we don’t want our students to give into that fear or the pull of “everyone else is doing it.”

No Shortage of Resources
There are plenty of wonderful resources available online to help us teach digital citizenship to our students.  Here are a few that I’ve found helpful as I work on my own unit.  I’ve shared a few of these before, but they are worth repeating here.  Teaching digital citizenship is an increasingly important responsibility.  Just as we continually work to guide our students to learn appropriate behavior and social skills in school, we need to continually work to help them learn these same skills online.

Common Sense Media Digital Citizenship Videos (I love these!)

ISTE: 9 Resources for Teaching Digital Citizenship

Brainpop Digital Citizenship Unit

Google Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum

What Your Students Really Need to Know About Digital Citizenship

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment