Friday, December 20, 2013

Andy Richter 20% Project: Teaching Digital Citizenship in Band

Andy Richter 20% Project:  Teaching Digital Citizenship in Band

After reviewing the Digital Citizenship resources, I decided that teaching my students about digital citizenship was an extension of the citizenship I teach to, and model for my students on a daily basis.  With the growing use of technology to enhance education, it seems natural to embed teaching and modeling digital citizenship through the SmartMusic Assignments, Google Doc assignments, Concert Reflection Blogs, Band Website, Band Twitter Account, Band Facebook Page, Live Streaming Concerts, and any future band activity/assignment that involves technology.

Teaching Internet Safety

We use a program called SmartMusic in band.  It is an amazing tool that has the ability to assess students playing their music.  Students can learn a lot from listening to themselves and analyzing the results from SmartMusic.  I can listen to their assignments from anywhere and anytime and give them constructive feedback as well.  The computers in our practice rooms have the SmartMusic software installed on it and students can use it at anytime.  In order to use the computer, however, students must log in to their account.  Oftentimes, students forget to logout of their account when they leave.  We teach students they are at risk of someone stealing private information from them when they forget to logout.  

Relationship and Communication

The band is a community of people that spend a lot of time together and build lasting friendships through amazing and emotional experiences.  We also often have time sensitive information that needs to be shared with a lot of people.  For relationship, we have created a Band Twitter account and a Band Facebook page.

It is through these social media venues that we can celebrate accomplishments, photos from events or trips, and give our followers quick updates on upcoming concerts and the “goings on” in the Edina Band Program.  We also have a Ustream account that allows us to live stream concerts.  Our Winter Jubilee concert reached people in California, Colorado, and Wisconsin.  I make a conscious effort to model Digital Citizenship that is above reproach in these areas.

For Communication, we primarily use email to contact our students and families.  Every Sunday, we send out a Band-O-Gram that outlines the events and needs for the upcoming week.  Here we try to be very organized and thoughtful about how we present the information.  Our Edinabands webpage is another communication tool, although it is communicating more about the program in general.  Both the Band-O-Gram and the website are areas where Digital Citizenship is modeled for our students.


Because we have many bandies who follow our Twitter account, I have the ability to follow their cyber activity.  I noticed, one time, that an account was set-up with a bandie’s profile and there were some things written in the account description that seemed mean.  The people that were followers of this account were also bandies.  I decided to talk with one of the followers in particular to get more information about it.  I said that regardless of the intent of this account, I perceive it to be disrespectful and borderline cyberbullying.  I continued to say that it would be a shame for the creator and any followers of this account to face the consequences linked with cyberbullying.  The student I talked to agreed that I had a good point and didn’t realize how it might look to someone else.  The student responded by talking with the creator of the account and it was removed moments later.

Self Image, Identity, Digital Footprint & Reputation

As I read students’ posts, many are demonstrating good digital citizenship, but I have been surprised to see what some students are willing to say in cyberspace.  I have had individual conversations with students who have posted inappropriate things.  My message to them is that they need to be careful because what they write doesn't go away and it damages their digital footprint.  I share a story about when I was on an interviewing committee that discovered an incriminating picture of one of the candidates on Facebook.  That person was removed from the pool of candidates and wasn't even considered for the position because of that one instance.  

I have an assignment that involves student’s reflecting on their most recent performance, commenting on what they feel they contributed the most and what they think they can improve for the next concert.  They then describe how they will achieve that goal before the next concert.  Then, they are to read each other’s comments and give positive feedback as well as offer suggestions of best practices in regards to the student’s goal for the next concert.  Before we embark on this assignment I revisit the Cyberbullying discussion as well as discuss how they are leaving a glimpse of their identity and building their reputation with every post and response to their colleagues.  What resulted was some amazing discussion and encouragement. See the blog here.


While I think it is a good idea to have an assignment that teaches Digital Citizenship, I believe it is more important to embed it into my everyday use of technology in class just like I embed Live Citizenship into my everyday class interactions and behavior management.

I spent a good deal of my time reviewing the Digital Citizenship resources online and reflecting on how I already embed the concepts into my everyday teaching.  Another substantial portion of my time was spent experimenting with different blog venues for my concert review blog project.  After two or three different failed attempts, I decided to use Blogger.  I found myself experimenting a lot with Google Forms and other apps that I didn't use but will use in the future.

The open ended nature of this assignment was difficult with my learning style. Even though I like having a clear outline of how to complete projects, I don't know that I would change it. I feel I was able to sculpt it in a way that enhanced what I already do rather than adding a completely new element to my teaching load.

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