All of my students from Kindergarten through 8th Grade have a series of lessons and projects about Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship. I try to build on knowledge from each previous year and use a variety of different web sites to create lessons and engage my students. Some that I’ve used in the past and that I plan to continue to use include:
I have also found some additional resources that I am reviewing this summer and may incorporate in to some of the grades. My goal is not only to stress safety but to teach my students how to establish a positive digital footprint and how to be good digital citizens. I wonder if I am doing all that I should in this effort – this is where my dilemma comes in.
At school, my students are not allowed to use their full names on anything they post online and they can never post pictures of themselves or other students at the school. We also do not post student pictures on our school Facebook page to insure that students are not tagged in photos. This all seems logical to keep our students safe. However, these same students are going home and joining social networking sites using their real names and uploading photos of themselves and their friends. This means that their digital footprint is being established from their Facebook account or their YouTube account or other social networking accounts and not from the work they are doing and posting online for school. We all know that some employers and colleges look up students online. My students typically apply to private high schools. I wonder when the high schools will start looking up their applicants online or if they already are.
In this video, a teacher explains the guidelines that her school has established for online sharing by students which look very similar to our guidelines for our Elementary and Middle School students.
As you can tell from the video, at this school, students can start identifying themselves online by their real name in the 11th grade. I wonder if this is too late. My students already have an online presence in Middle School (and some even earlier) but it does not include schoolwork. What do you think? Are the guidelines in the video appropriate? When should we allow our students to showcase their online work for school as part of their digital footprint?
Middle School – ah, Middle School. This is such a fun and challenging age group. My goal when I took the job as the Computer Teacher at my school was to have students graduate from our school who could test out of the required Computer Applications class in High School. I don’t know if my students can because none of them have bothered trying but I do know that they very easily get an “A” in the class. The main areas covered during the year for my Middle School students included: Microsoft Office & Google Docs, Keyboarding, Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship.
6th Grade did not participate in any online collaborative projects this year. So much of their time in 5th Grade had been spent unsuccessfully (as I blogged about last year) on the Time Zone Experiences project and I just didn’t find a project that was a good fit for them. They did help 7th Grade with a survey project they ran and voted for their favorite Internet Safety videos made by 8th Grade but there were no outside of our school collaborations for 6th Grade. Both 7th & 8th Grade contributed to a Voice Thread about their goals for the school year after listening to President Obama’s Message for American Students.
7th Grade also conducted and analyzed surveys which had participation from our school’s 4th-8th grade students and from some other educators and students outside of our school.
Lessons I Learned
Just because students say they REALLY want to do something doesn’t mean they really understand the work involved in doing it. Some of the 7th graders this year really, really, really wanted to create a newspaper so instead of teaching what I had planned, I created a series of lessons on journalism and journalistic ethics which 7th grade completed and they learned how to use Microsoft Publisher (which we don’t usually use because it’s not installed on all of the computers in the lab) and they produced an issue the paper. Yes, one issue – after that they didn’t want to do all the work involved in creating a newspaper anymore.
Students will tell you want you want to hear. I am very concerned about our Middle School students and the digital footprints they are creating. As they go through lessons and activities and projects about Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship, they’ll tell you all the things that adults say they should do to be safe online: No full names, No pictures, Keep online spaces private, Don’t share your password with anyone, etc. They’ll even “pledge” to follow these online rules but most of them are on social networking sites using their full names and pictures and videos, quite a few of them have public pages, they joke about being “bullied” online, they tell stories of how they told their best friend their password and what that friend did, etc. How can I help them to match their behavior to their knowledge?
Middle School students work best collaboratively. The most successful activities and projects in the lab have been the ones where students can work together. Middle School students are social – they just are and I need to remember to take advantage of that.
Things I’ll Definitely Repeat Next Year
Digital Citizenship Lessons & Activities – This needs to be a primary focus in Middle School, in my opinion!
Keyboarding – They really do need to have this skill in High School to get that “A” in the Computer Applications class but also because they are required to type a lot of what they turn in.
What technology rich projects or activities do your Middle School students do? Is there an engaging online collaborative project that you have found for this age group?
My 5th grade class this year was small and most of them are pretty good typists already and they will be spending quite a bit of time on typing in 6th grade so typing was something they didn’t do much of this year. There were lessons on Internet Safety because most of the 5th grade students are online on Facebook already even though they are all definitely under 13. I find that while some of the 5th grade act like they know it all about Internet Safety, they seemed to enjoy the activities in the Cyber Cafe and they did learn some new things too. I am exploring other digital citizenship options for next year too. 5th Grade also created artwork for Thanksgiving and participated in World Math Day and filled out surveys created by 7th grade and viewed and voted on their favorite Internet Safety videos created by 8th Grade but most of their time this year was spent on one project.
Just like last year much of the year was spent on the Time Zone Experiences project however unlike last year, the students enjoyed the project and they truly felt it was a collaboration with another class. There were really only two classes participating this year and Ann Oro and I tried to make it feel more collaborative this year by having the students Skype with one another as the project began. My students loved this and were disappointed we didn’t have the opportunity to do it again at the end of the year. We also encouraged our students to comment on the projects posted by the others and to read and reply to comments posted by the other school. I personally felt much less frustrated with the project this year but do wonder if it’s worth the time that it takes? The students learned how to write scripts and created animations using Xtranormal or Domo Animate which they really enjoyed and they all created podcasts which included original music made at MyBytes. They worked in pairs or teams and were fairly successful in this. They learned about editing wikis including uploading files. I’m still debating if this is the collaborative project I want to do with 5th Grade next year and if it is how I shorten the time that it takes to complete.
Lessons I Learned
Everything really does take longer than I think it will. Last year I was sure it was something that had gone wrong that had the Time Zone Experiences project drag on and on but I think it’s just the nature of that project. There has to be front end time to have the students learn about time zones, there has to be time to write scripts and record them in some way, there has to be time to teach students about posting to wikis, etc.
Many of our 5th Graders are on Facebook. Just as I am concerned about 4th grade being on Facebook, I have the same concerns with 5th Grade. Many of them have our Middle School students or graduates from our school who are in High School as friends. I know what Middle School and High School students post on their walls at time – even the ones that don’t post anything inappropriate can have friends that do. I often wonder if our parents really realize what’s happening on Facebook. Most of the students tell me that their parents set up their accounts for them. I definitely want to do some kind of parent education about social networking next year.
Things I’ll Definitely Repeat Next Year
Internet Safety Lessons including some new lessons on information literacy
4th Grade is an interesting year. They are ready and eager to learn how to type and we do spend a bit of time keyboarding. Many of them are very involved in some kind of social networking sites at home so Internet Safety is a topic that I feel must be covered. For all the time that 4th Graders can spend online, they still need a lot of guidance not only in safety but in Internet Literacy. I definitely need to cover this more next year in the lab. They love competing against one another in computer games and enjoyed World Math Day and love to visit sites like Arcademic Skill Builders and Tutpup. Most 4th graders still enjoy using KidPix and other graphics programs and it’s amazing how good some of them are in using these programs.
The major online collaborative project that 4th Grade participated in was the Voices of the World project. This was the second year that 4th grade has done this project. I love the idea of classes all around the world using art and voices to express themselves on a theme each month. However, there is not much interaction between schools other than having the projects posted on a wiki. The project organizers want a single student voice to say each word or phrase but I need something that involves all of my students and because I had to create multiple versions of the project so that each one only had a single student voice, I fell behind in getting our assignments up each month. Also, comments aren’t allowed on the wiki and most classes don’t comment on one another’s projects at the source of the project. I am currently looking for some other project to involve my 4th graders in next year because I want one that provides more of a real connection between classes and something that the students can hopefully maintain themselves.
4th Grade also created a Tongue Twister VoiceThread. They enjoyed creating the VoiceThread and taking one another’s challenges. We had hoped that others would listen to and take the challenges presented but sadly that didn’t happen this year. Are you interested in taking the challenges? You still can!
Lessons I Learned
Even though we covered it in 3rd Grade and 2nd Grade, 4th Graders need to be reminded that it’s one space between words & no Enter Key unless it’s a new paragraph. I worry that I’ll bore them if I repeat things from prior years but I have found that they really do need the review. I am working on coming up with new fun ways to do the reviews but I definitely have to do them!
If I can make it a game they’ll definitely be interested. Speaking of review, one way that I have found that definitely engages 4th grade it to make it some kind of game.
Even some 4th Graders are on Facebook. I love social media and I get why the kids want to have accounts but I worry about having them on these types of sites this young. Many of our 4th graders who are one friend our Middle School students or even students who have graduated from our school and are now in High School. I don’t care how “good” kids are the things posted by friends on the wall of a Middle School or High School student are often not appropriate for a 4th grader. I really feel that I need to do some parent education on Social Networks next year.
Just because an online collaborative project sounds good, it’s not necessarily a good fit for everyone. Having worked with the Voices of the World project for two years now I can honestly say I don’t think it’s a good fit for my 4th graders. It’s time to find something that is!
Things I’ll Definitely Repeat Next Year
Internet Safety Lessons & Poster creation
Tongue Twister VoiceThread
What are some technology activities and projects that are successful with your 4th Grade students?