I have longed to implement a curriculum that includes comprehensive instruction and guidance for our students on how to be good digital citizens, but I have struggled to find the appropriate time to share this information with my classes because they simply do not have the time to come into the library outside of their regularly scheduled classes at this level.
Last year, I implemented a lesson schedule to meet with each freshman during the time period labeled “Freshman Academy”, so that I could at least orient the students to the functions of our library, present our catalog, give them a basic overview of our library and show a video on how easily they could be tracked using their Facebook accounts. I felt that, despite the brevity of the video, that at least I had introduced the idea of having caution on the Internet.
Now that I have perused the various resources available to me to really go into more depth with cautioning students to preserve their anonymity and privacy, I feel more confident about structuring a more detailed curriculum that might help them to protect themselves more fully.
I took many of the video and article links suggested by Cool Tools and am storing them on my library web page here: http://www.mexico.cnyric.org/MexicoHigh.cfm?subpage=53068. I am able to use some Independent Professional Development hours over the summer to create a rigid schedule of lessons that would flexibly work into the Freshman Academy model so that I can try to reach each student coming into the high school. Working with teachers, I will attempt to give students a more clear idea and model how they are tracked while they are online.
Our school already subscribes to Brain Pop, so we will also have access to the games and activities provided so that I will be able to allow students to learn independently once I have begun to introduce the topics suggested.
I am eager to look into the idea of earning a passport to see if we could incorporate a similar idea, but I wonder if high school freshmen would respond to it? (I have had success with stickers and bookmarks, so I think I’ll give it a try.) You would be surprised how high school students might respond to the most simple motivational techniques.
We have seen a sharp increase in the number of disciplinary issues, disagreements and conflicts that are caused by our students’ use of social media, so I would be sure to include information on cyber bullying and etiquette tips that might prevent future problems.
I often feel that students are detached from how they are affecting other people because they are disconnected socially in real time from the people that they are potentially causing harm to. In effect, they are hiding behind a device or don’t even realize what they are doing because they no longer see the body language or facial expression of the person they are posting, Tweeting or texting to. It seems to me that they can postpone responsibility for what they are putting online unless a parent or other person in authority is notified, whereas in the past, students could be held accountable for their interactions because they were done out in the open rather than in a virtual world. Hopefully, we can teach students to be as courteous and respectful with their peers online as we teach them to be in the real world. Most teenagers seem to understand that they are being monitored, but don’t seem to realize that there may be consequences in the future when they are using social media.
The Cool Tools resources have given me a very nice library of articles, activities and videos to help me plan better for showing students how to be better digital citizens.