Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Britt Theis 20% Project for the Collaborating for Community Course

Digital Citizenship 20% Project

The idea of digital citizenship in first grade, has to begin with understanding what a citizen is.  In my classroom I begin the school year by introducing a basic understanding of what a good citizen is.  We read a story about it and discuss examples of how we can be good citizens in and outside the classroom.  I also use our school rule:  “I will act in a safe, respectful, and responsible way” as a catalyst to classroom management, and for this tech class, introducing digital citizenship.  

With my first graders, discussing internet safety seems to be putting the cart before the horse since here at school my students are simply trying to understand how to log into a computer.  Their time on the computer is usually spent using programs that are already loaded onto the computer.  I have never had students explore the internet on their own or use social media at school.  I am just learning these tools myself and am not comfortable yet introducing that to my students.  True, there might be some students who access the internet at home, but for the majority of them, being able to navigate the internet is foreign.  Many are used to working with apps on an iPad or games on their computer that a parent has safely downloaded for them.  Still, it is never too early to begin the process towards creating positive examples of digital citizenship.

I currently have two iPads in my classroom that my students are beginning to use independently for class projects.   In order to be able to use these iPads successfully, we needed to discuss careful and proper use.  My intent was to impress upon students that our school rule: “I will act in a safe, respectful, and responsible way” can apply not only to physical and social behavior, but to decisions we make when using the iPads in our classroom.

Digital Citizenship and iPad Use.

Objective:   Students apply the school rule “I will act in a safe, respectful, and responsible way.” when using iPads in the classroom.

Lesson: Students work in small groups to compare following the school rule to using iPads in the classroom.

  • Students are asked to write down some ways they are safe, respectful, and responsible,  when at school.  
  • Students record their answers on a whiteboard at each small group.  
  • Students share their ideas orally to the class.  
  • Teacher records the responses onto a Thinking Map on the SMARTboard.  
  • Students then share ideas on how they are safe, respectful, and responsible  when using the iPads in the classroom.  
  • Ideas are recorded onto the Thinking Map on SMART.
  • Comparisons are made to see how school rule applies to iPad use.
  • Students are informally assessed throughout the school day/year to make sure they are applying the school rule when using the iPads.


Overall, the lesson went well.  Students easily shared ideas as to how they were safe, respectful, and responsible at school.  It was a little more difficult for them to share the same values in relation to using the iPads.  Many of their answers were focused on the physical act of using the iPad:  do not throw the iPad, do not run with the iPad, do not leave it on the ground for someone to step on.

With some prompting, students realized they also needed to be respectful and take turns, help others, and share the iPads.  Following directions also came up as an idea as a student stated that everyone should be doing what the teacher asked them to do.  In other words, stay on the app the teacher asked you to work on, and ask permission before moving on to something different.

It took a little more guidance and prompting from me to get them to think about sharing work on the iPads with others, as their work is being stored on the same device as someone else.  I compared it to sharing a writing journal.  How would you treat someone’s work if you were sharing a journal?  Would you write over their work?  Would you criticize their work?  Would you erase, or add something to their work?  I explained that this is generally the same idea with the iPad, specifically when using VoiceThread.  The students had three different opportunities to model this behavior during VoiceThread lessons and through my observations they carried through with the expectations they set for themselves.  They were completely independent in these activities and respectful of their classmates.

The open-ended nature of this project was a challenge for me since I am working with an age group that is very new to the digital world.  Some have never dialed a phone number, let alone logged into a computer.  Finding a focus that I felt fit the criteria took some thinking and reassurance from colleagues that my approach to this project was appropriate for first graders.

I have spent over 20% of my time modeling citizenship as it relates to the classroom and how that transfers to digital use in the classroom.  I am modeling every day how to be a responsible learner when it comes to iPad use and reminding students how to take care of themselves and the tools we are given in the classroom.  The lesson I did with the students allowed them to verbalize appropriate usage and attach school values to that.  The opportunities given to them through VoiceThread, as well as partner and independent exploration of apps have given the students an opportunity to model digital etiquette and responsible social interactions that I hope will be the foundation for their future in the world of technology.


Newbridge Educational Publishing (used to introduce the topic of citizenship)

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