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Category Archives: Social Emotional Learning

Leaving a Positive Digital Footprint!

Piloting a 1:1 classroom has been a dream for me! I cannot even begin to express how giddy it makes me on a daily basis.  I love the idea of creating a glass classroom where collaboration, problem solving, and critical thinking can happen on a more global level.  I feel lessons now have the rigor the common core and the education system requires but in a way that is fun and engaging for kids.

I know what you are thinking.  That sounds great but what happens when a child misbehaves and the device is involved?  How do you take away or limit the time spent on a device when the whole point of being 1:1 is using said device?  Do not get me wrong, face to face communication and pencil paper skills are still important and are vital to a balanced life long learner.  However, if the punishment is always no device for you do this worksheet instead, are we sending the right message?  Are we creating a society who when faced with a digital citizenship, cyber-bullying, or device care issue will know how to fix their mistake and learn from it?

As a teacher and a mom, I know the natural reaction is to take it away.  Does this mean then for every lesson you create digitally, a backup must be created that could be used in case a behavior issue arises?  While I’m all about putting in the work to do something well, I’m also all about working smarter not harder.  Should a teacher have a back up plan in case of a technology or internet break down?  Yes. Should a teacher have to create a paper and pencil or “old school” version of every single lesson on a device? Oh boy. Teachers would be burn out in the first week of a 1:1 roll out.

So what is the answer?  I don’t know that is that simple yet.  However, I do think there are alternative arrangements that can allow for students to be taught important social emotional skills in a safe learning environment.  Why not take the opportunity when they are young and they are surround by trusted adults to teach students how to behave when it comes to using a device or the internet.  This way we can create students who are capable of leaving productive and positive digital footprints.

I feel an important first step is creating a list of expectations.  This can be done in a way that is comfortable for the teacher’s style but the more of a group effort it is, the more buy in.  We used expectations our school had created for iPads, our student handbook, and my student’s ideas to create a list of expectations.  This was a great classroom meeting topic and brought up some great discussion points.  After the meeting and a consensus of the final product, everyone signed it.  A copy hangs in our classroom and a copy  was sent home to all of the parents.

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I then took these expectations and converted them to a Chromebook reflection sheet.  I wanted a way to document broken expectations in a manageable way that would be able to communicate with families what I had witnessed at school.  When a situation arises where one of these is broken, they select the expectation(s) that apply and reflect on the following: what they choose to do, what they should have done and how they will prove they can handle this the next time.  I sign it, it goes home for a parent to sign it, and then is returned the next day.  Here is the reflection sheet I created: Chromebook Reflection

As soon as the reflection sheet was introduced, I felt students understood the seriousness of the issue even more.  They didn’t want to have to explain to their families that a unique opportunity our classroom had been given was something they were taking for granted.  What I am trying to be proactive about is should there be a set number of reflection sheets before another step is taken?  Or do I just continue to use these and base it on a case to case basis?  I also am keeping in mind that anything new makes it much easier to manage because of the excitement level.  That could wear off, so then I feel as a teachers, it is our job to keep that drive and excitement at the forefront.  When students are engaged in the experience, behavior problems lesson or disappear completely.

Another alternative I have found to be effective is instead of typing in TodaysMeet, Google Docs or a website, students who break expectations have to write their responses instead.  Students know where to grab writing paper if they are prompted and we can continue on with the lesson.  I also have had students sit in a designated spot and have a required check in before posting, submitting or sending anything over the internet.  This way they are still able to practice the digital skill but they have more of a guided and monitored approach.  The goal of course being to achieve digital independence that I would expect of a second grader.

What do you do though when cyber-bullying or misuse of the internet occurs?  The pilot team discussed setting certain internet filters that would still allow a student to use the device and the internet to complete lessons, but their freedom would be restricted until a time when they were able to handle it.  For example a junior in high school might get the same filter as a K-2 student until they could prove they were able to handle the freedoms that come with being a more experienced digital citizen.

One of the most interesting social emotional conversations that has come out of this pilot for me is students critiquing others ideas, typing, writing, or spelling.  For some reason once students were reading the words of others on a screen, it became easier to poke fun of or overly criticize their ideas.  It made for a great lesson on how typing is not as easy as writing.  There is a lot more thinking involved.  You have to know where the keys are, type them correctly, and sometimes press multiple keys to get what you need.  We then acted out scenarios, practiced kind words to say, and discussed ways to disagree that were appropriate.  I feel this is where some teachers might give up all together.  However, I kept at it.  I changed the way I monitored postings, circulated the room more frequently, checked in more often, and celebrated success.  I feel by providing students with what it should look like and then giving the opportunity to directly apply this skill, has been important.  I feel teachers know this but for some reason once technology is involved, we assume they don’t need as much guidance.  The directions are there usually in audio and or video form.  Why on Earth can’t they figure it out on their own?  We have to teach them.  We have to lead them through it and we have to fail several times in the process.

Tonight I created a playlist on my classroom’s YouTube Channel dedicated to digital citizenship: http://bit.ly/DigitalCitizenshipPlaylist My plan moving forward, is to introduce students to these new resources and discuss the idea of leaving a positive digital footprint.  In order to get families on board, I created a homework assignment inspired by Pinterest.  Students will think about the positive digital footprint they hope to leave 15 years from now. They will make a list with their families and bring it to school where we will create some “digital footprints”.  Check out the blog post that sparked it all: http://thetidyteacher.blogspot.ca/2012/11/digital-citizenship.html

Digital Footprint Homework Assignment

Social emotional skills involving technology are extremely important and often overlooked.  We also have to remember taking away the device, while possibly solving the problem temporarily, might not help them develop skills to fix it later in life.  What plans could we have in place to help students learn the importance of being a mature digital citizen?  Will there be times when a device must be taken away?  Absolutely.  I think we just have to be open to the fact that maybe that shouldn’t be the first gut reaction.  Just like we teach students to interact with friends on the playground, we need to teach them how to interact with students on the digital playground as well.  If we only teach them how to interact on this digital playground without the tools to do it, it will take longer to sink in.

Better readers become better readers by reading. When a student struggles with reading, we put plans, procedures, and small group work in place to support those learners.  They are given more guided or one on one support until they are able to take off with a book!  So why not do the same when teaching digital citizenship or social emotional skills involving technology? Better digital citizens become better digital citizens by practicing and applying digital citizenship skills.  When students struggle with this what type of plans, procedures, and small group work can we add in to support these learners?

What do you do to help your students leave a positive digital footprint?

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