With the start of the new semester came our second round of Digital Citizenship lessons from Common Sense Education. First through seventh grade had two more lessons, building on the two they had in September. Following are the concepts that were covered in each lesson.
The first lesson focused on private information that should not be shared by children on the internet, including name, address, phone number, birthday, school, or information about their parents’ emails, phone numbers, work place, etc. Then the students practiced making a username (a name you make up so you can use a website) to help stay safe while playing games online.
The next lesson was about getting credit for their work. It is a foundational skill for when students are older and are required to give credit for pictures or information they use from the internet. This fun lesson included having the students draw a self-portrait, and then giving it a name and writing their name on it, to make sure they got credit for their original work of art.
First graders were introduced to the idea of cyberbullying, which is doing something on the internet, usually again and again, to make another person feel mad, sad, or scared. The students learned these four steps to help make cyberbullying STOP:
STOP using the computer until it is safe.
TELL an adult you trust.
Go ONLINE only when a trusted adult says it is OK.
PLAY online only with kids who are nice.
In the second lesson, students learned about using keywords for searching online. They practiced picking keywords out of questions they might ask Google.
How do some websites try to get you to buy things? In this second grade lesson, we looked at some of their favorite websites, Roblox and Minecraft, to see how they might be trying to get the kids to buy merchandise or in-game purchases. Students then designed a web page trying sell their chosen product.
During the next lesson, the students learned how, without voice tone and facial expressions, messages written with the same words can be interpreted differently by the person receiving the message. They edited an email to make it be more respectful by following these three guidelines:
Selfies are a fun and popular way to use digital media, and the third graders learned about why it is important to pay attention to the details in pictures that are posted. They learned that people can assume things about you from looking at your picture online, so it is important to post pictures that represent yourself well, so people know the true you.
In the second lesson, third graders learned how norms, or expectations, for how to act in real life and in online communities help everyone to be safe and have fun. Students shared behavior expectations related to our school norms that help all of us to learn in school:
Ready to learn
Achieve a safe environment
Responsible for others and ourselves
Then they created some norms for how we should interact when we share, respond, work, and play together online, so everyone can have fun.
Fourth graders were introduced to the idea of having a digital footprint, a record of what they do online, including the sites they visit and the things they post. It can also include things that others post, like pictures of us or comments about us. Because their digital footprint is a permanent record, students need to start now in making sure that they represent themselves positively online at all times. They also learned that they should ask permission from their friends before they post anything about them, since that becomes part of their friend’s digital footprint. Students are never too young to start building a positive online presence.
The digital footprints lesson was followed up by talking about how to keep games fun and friendly for everyone. Once again, always being kind and positive was emphasized as the way to make the world of online games an enjoyable place for everyone. The fourth graders were encouraged to remember that if they wouldn’t say something to someone’s face, then they shouldn’t say it online either.
Because it is so important to understand digital footprints and why everyone should be careful about what they post online, the fifth graders also had a lesson on digital footprints. In addition, students need to realize that even if they post something and then delete it, they do not know who has taken a picture of it or shared it, so again, it is really important to represent yourself well online, and be proud of what you post.
Fifth graders had a fun lesson on gender stereotypes, too. They were asked to think about things and statements that are often associated with either girls or boys, and then to think about if they’re really true. The students were very quick to realize that the stereotypes were not true of all girls or all boys, and that they should be aware of times when they notice stereotypes being used in their online activities. The students got to make an avatar that either followed or challenged typical gender stereotypes, and they were very creative in their drawings!
It’s easy to just ask Google the questions we have on our mind, but the sixth graders learned some tricks for more efficient searching in their first digital citizenship lesson. Using quotation marks around a phrase makes sure that Google searches for the exact phrase, instead of the words anywhere in a web site. Using the minus sign in front a word can eliminate results that include that work, and using OR between two words or phrases will return results that include either of them. Lastly, you can use site: to search for specific kinds of domain names in URLs (.org, .edu, .gov. etc.) or to search within specific sites.
The second lesson for sixth graders was about recognizing scams or schemes. Students learned what kind of personal information identity thieves try to acquire, and some suspicious tactics that are used in phishing emails, such as generic greetings, a need to verify account information, a sense of urgency to do so, and a sense that something seems too good to be true. They also learned not to click on links or open attachments in emails that may be suspicious. It is good for students to be aware of these tactics before they fall victim to them.
Which me should I be? This was the question presented to seventh graders as they considered how and why people sometimes represent themselves differently online than in real life. The students considered different scenarios of people online, such as making fake accounts hidden from parents, posting anonymous mean comments, and pretending to be older than they are, and considered how harmless or harmful the situation was for the person. They were given these tips for thinking about their online identity:
Cyberbullying was the topic of the second lesson, and students worked in pairs to determine who the bystanders and who the upstanders were in a scenario based on a real life situation in which a young man’s video was posted without his permission, and it received many hateful comments online, which spread to real life harassment at school. The lesson closed by asking students to consider which parts of our school mission call for us to be upstanders in a cyberbullying situation, even though it is a very hard thing to do.
The eighth graders have been on a different schedule for digital citizenship lessons, as they have a class with me every Friday afternoon. They’ve had lessons covering copyright, online privacy, and scams.
Common Sense Education recently published new digital citizenship lessons for 6th-8th grade, and we were asked to be a pilot school for one of the lessons back in October. The lesson was called “This Just In!”, and students looked at different sources of breaking news for an event to see how different people had interpreted the same event. Then they compared the breaking news posts to a news article that was written about the event to determine how bias and misinformation can affect the messages that people receive. With a 24/7 news cycle, it is vital to be a critical consumer of information. The students and I were able to provide feedback to Common Sense Education about what we felt were the strengths and areas of improvement for this lesson, which is a neat opportunity considering that the digital citizenship lessons from Common Sense are used in many schools all over our country.
The eighth graders will spend the rest of their Friday afternoons this semester working in groups to create a product to help solve this problem: How can we make online life sweeter for our community? They are just getting started in the problem solving process, so check back later to see some of their results.
I promised the students that I would make my Hour of Code website available to them, so they can keep coding at home, so here it is: 2018 Hour of Code. Have fun!
All kindergarten through eighth grade students had the opportunity to participate in an Hour of Code session between November 30 and December 7. The ‘Hour of Code™’ is a nationwide initiative by Computer Science Education Week [csedweek.org] and Code.org [code.org] to introduce millions of students to one hour of computer science and computer programming. Many classes started with a discussion about the theme of this year’s Hour of Code, creativity, and I showed them this video What Is Creativity? I love this video because I truly believe, like Bill Gates says in the video, that our students will be the creative people who solve big problems in our world, and I look forward to seeing the great things our students will do with their gifts and talents. I also chose this video because Hadi Partovi, the creator of code.org and Hour of Code is in it, and I consider him to be one my heroes. His creative idea for Hour of Code, and the tremendous effort to bring his idea to fruition, is what brought coding to our school. I am really grateful to code.org for the excellent, free materials they provide for students and teachers.
Here are a few pictures from the week:
I am excited to be teaching Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship curriculum to all of our students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Our plan is to teach two lessons to each grade level in September, January, and April. Common Sense Education is working to update all of their digital citizenship lessons, and so far has released new lessons for grades 3-5. We will be piloting a couple of the new 8th grade lessons during October, and the new 6th-8th lessons are scheduled to be released in January. The new K-2nd lessons are planned for release at the end of the summer, so they will be available to use for next school year.
Here are some of the things the students have learned about so far this year in each grade level:
Three rules for staying safe online:
1. Ask your parents first
2. Only talk to people you know
3. Stick to websites that are just right for you
Website Traffic Light:
Green websites: GOOD! Just right for you– appropriate and fitting
Yellow websites: CAUTION— be careful– ask an adult for help
Red websites: STOP! Do not stay on this site! Close the site and tell an adult about it.
1. Include at least 8 letters, numbers, and symbols in your password.
2. Do not include private identity information in your password, like your name, address, or phone number.
3. Only share passwords with parents or guardians, not with friends.
The Rings of Responsibility
What responsibilities do you have to yourself?
What responsibilities do you have to your community?
Do not share private information: Information about you that can be used to identify you because it’s unique to you (e.g., your full name or your address)
You can carefully share personal information: information about you that cannot be used to identify you because it is also true for many other people (e.g., your hair color or the city you live in)
Three questions to ask to make healthy media choices:
1. What? What are the media you’re consuming (or creating)? What platforms are you using to consume the media (i.e., a streaming platform like Netflix)? What device(s) are you using to consume (or create) the media?
2. When? When are you consuming (or creating) the media? What time of day? What day of the week? What else is happening at this time (i.e., is it during dinnertime, right before bed, etc.)?
3. How much? How much media are you consuming? How long are you spending with the media at one time?How often are you consuming the media?
Students were asked to consider the following items:
Types of digital media you use; Actions you take with digital media; Your feelings about digital media; Adults’ (parents/teachers) feelings about digital media
Are digital media a small, medium, or big part of your life? What kind of impact does digital media have on you (a little, some, a lot)? What are your favorite and least favorite things to do with digital media? Do you connect with others or create things with digital media?
They were then asked to write a simile about their media life by completing this statement: My media life is like __________ because __________.
Here are some examples of similes written by the 6th graders:
My media life is like a field trip because I explore new things.
My media life is like the ocean because you can easily get lost in it.
My media life is like Christmas Day because I find a ton of new things every day.
My media life is like a balloon because it can be fun, but you have to be careful with it.
My media life is like a miner ‘49er finding gold in the Gold Rush because it happens, but not a lot.
My media life is like going to Target because when you think you need a basket, you really need three carts.
My media life is like double-stuff Oreos because you say you’ll only eat one, but then you keep eating and eating.
My media life is like space because it never ends.
Students were asked to keep these questions in mind as they worked with a partner to examine some scenarios with online interactions to see if they were safe, possibly unsafe, or definitely unsafe situations:
Has this person asked me to keep any information secret?
Has this person flirted with me, or asked me anything inappropriate?
Has this person asked me about anything private?
Have I felt pressured by this person to do anything?
Do I feel untrue to myself– like I’m not sticking to my values– when I talk to this person?
Students were encouraged to listen to their gut, and not continue in any conversation that made them uncomfortable for any reason. They were given this advice when faced with something that doesn’t seem right:
Change it up: Try changing the subject, making a joke or saying you want to talk about something else. If that doesn’t work, take further action.
Log off or quit: It’s okay to stop playing or chatting anytime you start to feel uncomfortable. You can also block a person who is bothering you.
Accept your feelings: It’s normal and okay to be embarrassed or confused when you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation.
Talk to someone: Tell someone a trusted adult –parent, teacher, coach — or a friend. You won’t get in trouble.
Students worked in groups to examine two people’s online profiles in order to determine who would be the best host for a new TV show. In trying to figure out who to hire, based on which person was honest and worked well with others, the students discovered that each candidate had some concerning information in their profiles, and ultimately decided that neither candidate should be hired based on their online profiles.
Each mod of students went on to have great discussions about how their digital footprint gets formed by both what they post and what gets posted about them, and why it’s important to have a positive digital footprint and to be sure to contribute positively to others’ footprints.
Hello. I am Terri Preston, and this is my 26th year at St. Pius X / St. Leo School. I love teaching in the computer lab because I get to know all of our PreK-8th grade students, and it is such a joy to see them grow in their abilities throughout their time at SPSL. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education, and a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Educational Technology. I became a Level 1 Google Certified Educator in October of 2016, and a Level 2 Google Certified Educator in July of 2017. I am currently working toward a Master of Science in Educational Leadership at Creighton University.