Digital Citizenship in a Digital World

Technology.  How does it impact your life?  Do you see yourself using new technological innovations throughout the day?  What innovations are yet to be created? How do you use technology to teach? Are your students safe when on the computer? How do you teach digital skills, so students know how to interact with others safely?

These are questions parents and teachers ask themselves, hoping they are teaching students to be safe online. In some way or another, technology has impacted the way we live, function, work, play, and learn. Daily life involves technology. It doesn’t matter your age, ethnicity, or career, technology is literally in our hands and has opened up the world.  Whether you use technology to learn new information, share information, or even create information . . . technology has impacted our lives.

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Digital Citizenship: Third Week in October

While technology can have a positive impact on our lives, unfortunately, it can also cause problems.  As a result, it is important for us to have the skills and knowledge necessary to be a “good digital citizen”. 

Therefore, in schools across America, the third week of October is dedicated to engaging students in lessons, activities, and projects that focus on how to be a good digital citizen. 

I am always excited for this week!  We’ve been focusing on building our classroom community and learning how to use technology for learning.  Now my students are ready to deepen their knowledge about digital citizenship.  Knowing how to interact with people online, how to stay safe, and how to determine the validity of information are important components to being a “good digital citizen”. 

Digital Citizenship, technoogy, digial awareness, technology instruction, ISTE

Digital Citizenship: What is it?

Commen Sense shares “Being a digital citizen is all about taking ownership of our actions and using technology responsibly and respectfully.”   This is important to consider, as we need to ensure what we do and how we respond to others in a digital world are essential traits to being a successful digital citizen. Listen to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) CEO Richard Culatta, as he discusses the new lens on digital citizenship that focuses on the do’s of digital citizenship.

Digital Citizenship: Steps for Greatness

The overall instructional goals are to support development in these five technological competencies.  There are numerous lesson plans, activities, and books available to support teaching digital citizenship skills. I am sharing some of my favorites below, but a simple Google search will provide even more resources for you to consider using in your own classroom at school or home.

  1. To get started, check out how we can build upon the conversation from the ISTE video above, and take a deeper look at the “do’s and don’ts” to seamlessly integrate the skills and knowledge of a digital citizenship curriculum.
  2. Checking out webinars are great resources for educators and parents who will be providing instructional opportunities for students.  Take a look at the resources and determine areas where you can build and deepen your own knowledge.
  3. One way to get your students thinking about being a digital citizen is with a kid created video! a Wouldn’t it be fun for your students to create a learning video to share with his/her community?  
  4. Now you are ready to successfully integrate the digital citizen lessons.  During Digital Citizenship Week, and essentially all year long, Common Sense offers free online activities and lessons to teach kids how to learn, create, and participate responsibly and respectfully in the digital world.  There are a variety of lesson ideas for grades K-12.  Lessons include videos, cooperative learning activities, paper activities, and books to engage learners.  I find these lessons are great branching points to continue extending learning, too.
  5. Another great resource for students is the Digital Passport program where students can excel by achieving advancement levels and demonstrating learning in a gamification format.
  6. As students continue to develop their digital citizenship skills, supporting students in developing digital empathy is paramount. These skills do take time to develop and solidify.  This step indicates students are ready to take ownership of their actions and are consistently using technology responsibly and respectfully. 

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using technology as an instructional tool.

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Digital Citizenship:  Children’s Literature

Besides the lessons above, a wonderful way to teach is though children’s literature.  Besides the conceptual digital lessons focused on in this post, these are great stories to revisit for other literacy lessons.   

One of my favorite books I use in my digital citizenship lessons is Technology Tail.  This book is a great resource as it focuses on the school age student. As an extra bonus, you’ll notice some great lessons for reading and writing embedded in this story. Listen in as I share this story with my students, and visit my YouTube video description for those literacy lessons. 

Using children’s literature is a great resource for teaching concepts.  Students identify with characters and their story.  These connections bring about meaningful conversations in a safe, caring environment.  I’ve included additional picture book titles that can be a useful resource focusing on digital citizenship and using technology in the classroom. 

Digital Citizenship: Family Support

Now that students have had conversations regarding digital citizenship, parents can support their child with additional conversations that may be challenging to discuss.  It is important for students to hear the similar messages at home and school. Working together will ensure that your child has the appropriate skills and knowledge to be a safe, respectful, and responsible user of digital resources.

Digital Citizenship: Related Resources

Tech Expo Experts!

Have You Filled A Bucket Today?

We’re Doing This . . . Launching Distance Learning

Digital Citizenship: Final Thoughts

Being a “good digital citizen” is an essential life skill.  When students learn how their thoughts impact others in person and virtually, they will see that additional care must be taken before posting information.  Students just don’t KNOW this information, educators and parents must take time to work with their students to ensure they are making great choices in an online world. 

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Annette Durbin

Annette has been an educator for more than 30 years working in the PK-6 elementary classroom, K-12 multi-language learner instructional specialist, district leadership, university professor, as well as a mentor for teachers nationwide. A National Board Certificated Teacher, Annette focuses her research on accelerating learning and advancing achievement, personalizing instruction, technology, and leadership in the education field.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. heather J Jandrue

    What a great post. It is so important in this day and age. Now, more than ever with how the schools are being conducted these days.

  2. Denise

    This is such a great lesson to be taught and to teach to everyone out there. How we use the digital world can have so many different impacts by the words we choose and the things we write. I agree ūüíĮ thank you for sharing!

  3. Jordan

    This is a great idea, and definitely something all kids need right now. I wish adults had something like this too!

  4. Sabrina DeWalt

    I had no idea this was being taught in schools. Good information.

  5. Pauline

    Great read. This is such an important topic for kids. I remember a seminar I took a few years back that the topic was online safety for kids and how parents and teachers were the first line of defense by educating children about online etiquette and online safety.

  6. Alexis Farmer

    I’ve never heard of the term digital citizenship until now. Thanks for sharing!

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