Before the summer vacation, a group of teachers in my school got together to create a vision for our program and our new, aligned curriculum. To start actualizing our vision right now, I’m writing this post to tell you about a project I’ll be leading to get our school Digital Citizenship Certified by Common Sense Education. Give it a read and see if you’re interested in doing the same at your school! For more information visit the Common Sense Education Website.
Making our Vision a Reality
One part of our vision is to create globally conscious citizens, and to provide kids with authentic learning experiences. To do this, we’ll likely find ourselves and our students making use of digital media more often in the near future. It’s important that our students (and maybe we teachers, as well!) know how to use web 2.0 resources safely.
Opportunity for Teachers
To do so, we’re going to get our school Digital Citizenship Certified School status, and in the process, some of our interested teachers will be able to become Digital Citizenship Certified Educators. They’ll get a badge to stick on emails and websites and can call themselves Digital Citizenship Certified Educators on their resumes. You probably won't get a raise for it but it's proof of continued professional development and experience in teaching this aspect of a 21st century curriculum.
Common Sense Education
Common Sense is a non-profit organization that has developed a curriculum for students and PD resources for teachers about digital citizenship. In addition to printable curriculum units for each grade, they’ve got online learning resources that kids can use in a 1:1 or BYOD classroom. Here’s the breakdown.
Connecting with Parents
Part of getting the Certification involves communicating with parents about digital citizenship. The easiest ways to implement this would be sending out a provided fact sheet electronically, as well as embedding a few links on class webpages and the front page of the school website. Other options include hosting discussion groups with parents, but since my school is in Korea the language barrier might make that a bit difficult.
What You Need to Do
The last thing to remember, is that you need to document your teaching as you work through the curriculum. It’s not that intense. You just need to take photographs or short videos of students at work on the Common Sense curriculum materials, make a blog post, show some sample work, or make a short video
Interested teachers need to teach 5 lessons on digital citizenship. A key point is that the entire grade must take part. That is to say, all of the 5th grade students have to learn the material, not just the kids in one class. If your entire team doesn't want to get involved, you can work out a way to teach it to their students for them. Teachers also need to be involved in a bit of PD. There’s a one hour webinar online, and you need to set up an account on Common Sense.
After you’re done, you can apply for the school’s certification and your teacher certifications will be included. Simple!
I’ll update as we make our way through the process. Over half of the grades in our school have signed on to participate already. I think it will be lots of fun!
It's been a couple of weeks, and after a few meetings with individual teachers and the entire staff, we have 100% participation in the Digital Citizenship Certification project! Students are engaged and parents and already writing in with positive feedback about the curriculum. It looks as though it will be a great success!
Grade teams are fitting in digital citizenship instruction when their long range plans allow, but we should be ready to send in our application by the end of November! For now, here are some students working away on Common Sense Education's free Digital Citizenship resources!
It's official! Our school has become a Digital Citizenship Certified School through Common Sense Education.
All of our teachers did a great job of working to teach students about how to be safe and positive online citizens over the past few months, and the program was a great success. Almost all of our teachers enjoyed using the Common Sense curriculum and found it to be relevant and appropriate to meet our students' needs at Uchon Elementary School.
The Common Sense Education Digital Citizenship resources will become a part of every grade's curriculum in the coming school year, and teachers are already discussing how best to implement it and improve on the work they've already done.
A big thank you to Common Sense Education for their excellent Digital Citizenship Certification program and to all of the hard working teachers at Uchon Elementary School who made this happen.
Matthew Boomhower is a mid-career educator with 15 years of classroom teaching and educational leadership experience. He is Head of Innovation & Learning at an international school in Malaysia and is a proud husband and father.