Teaching Kids to Search Well and Evaluate What They Find

TechforSuccessMy post, Back-to-School Research Tip: Help Your Child Use Curated Online Databases, is posted over at the Platform for Good website. It describes strategies that parents and educators can use to help children understand more about quality searching and help 21st Century kids become better evaluators of their search results.

To get the new school year started in a digitally sensible way, please take a few minutes to read my post and learn ways to direct 21st Century children to resources curated by experts, materials chosen to help students get good results when they search. The more they encounter quality search results, the better they will become at recognizing poor quality when they use a less curated searching tool.

On the same page, at the right, is a wonderful graphic called Tech for Success that I will definitely use as a handout with students and their parents during the 2014-15 school year. Similar to an acrostic poem, the graphic uses the word “success,”  spelling it down the left-hand side of the page and attaching an important digital citizenship message to each letter of the word.

Action Words that Describe Digital World Learning

digital-citizenship Can we teach pre-adolescents and teens to reflect on what’s happening as they use digital world tools and  interact with online content? Can we help them understand more about what they are doing when they work and play online?

Educators often provide a checklist or rubric for students to use as they work on assignments or projects. A rubric usually contains editing specifications, project requirements, resource documentation, and expectations — all for students to consider while completing the work.

Now I’ve discovered that Mia MacMeekin over at the An Ethical Island blog offers what I think of as a digital learning graphical rubric. The easy-to-understand graphic features World Wide Web nouns and action verbs that describe the ways people  encounter, process, and use online information. MacMeekin thinks of her infographic as a digital citizenship tool, but it’s much more than that. The chart offers educators with opportunities to ask questions as they teach, and more importantly, expect students to answer them.          Continue reading

How We Teach Digital Citizenship Makes a Difference

Digital Citizenship Posters Become a Hallway Exhibit

Digital Citizenship Posters Become a Month Long Hallway Exhibit

When it comes to digital citizenship, we cannot just lecture or watch videos.

Everyone learns best by doing — whether it’s tying a shoe, mastering letter sounds, figuring out a science concept, learning to drive, parenting a new baby, or any other activity, including what we need to figure out on computers and digital devices. When people tell us how to do something by talking a lot, most of us can’t wait for the person to stop talking so we can try to do it ourselves.

Now consider how we have gone about teaching 21st Century children — at home and at school — about digital devices and digital world behavior. Mostly adults talk and talk, telling children, pre-adolescents, and teens about all the things that can go wrong and explaining what we don’t want them to do.

Over the past 15 years, I’ve spent way too much time talking to kids about digital life issues and not nearly enough time doing things with them. So these past few years I’ve changed the way I teach.                              Continue reading

Soundbites From Day Two of FOSI 2013 – Conference Post #3

fosi2013While I could not spend the entire day at the FOSI2013 conference, I joined the event around 1:00 P.M. after a morning at school and just in time for a terrific panel, Child Psychology and the Effects of Technology. Later I attended a session, Creating Trust on Social Networks, with panel members from the social media industry who described in some detail  how vendors and social media sites strive to commit themselves to user support, troubleshooting, problem-solving, and integrity — in theory, above profit concerns.

As usual, each of the break-out periods featured two sessions — topics that I really wanted to attend but scheduled at the same time — so I had the difficult task of making choices. Because FOSI2013 provided a detailed schedule before the conference began, I arrived with a pretty good idea about which session related more to the issues that I am currently thinking about and coping with at my school. Still, making this type of choice at a conference is always challenging. I’ve tentatively arranged to get together, face-to-face, with local colleagues who also attended the conference and swap notes about the sessions that we missed.

I might mention here that during a break my edtech colleague, David, and I struck up a conversation with Patricia, a conference attendee and government official from Kenya. She had arrived just before the conference and was leaving almost immediately afterward. He asked her if she would be attending the FOSI2014 conference next year and invited her to plan a few extra days and visit his school. I  chimed in and offered an invite to mine. Then we told Patricia that our independent school technology community is close-knit, and would welcome her at their schools, too.

To round out the afternoon, conference attendees all came back together to hear a group of experts discuss and distill some of the issues — privacy, digital citizenship, parenting, social media, connected life — that FOSI featured during the two-day conference. This was one of the most engaging conference activities, I think, because of the way the panelists — a journalist, an academician, a therapist, and a legal scholar — ranged back and forth over the topics connecting events and adding their own information.

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Soundbites From Day One of FOSI 2013, Conference Post #2

fosi2013Some of these ideas come from researchers describing the results of various studies. Others come from presenters’ comments. My apologies for not connecting individuals with their comments. 

I am drawing from my 30 pages of actual handwritten notes (handwritten because the seats were not a comfortable height for me to use my iPad).

In the Digital World

  • Six billion people have access to a cell phone in today’s world — more than have access to clean toilets.
  • The enemy of empowerment is fear and lack of expertise.
  • Be the change that you want to see in the world. (a Gandhi quote)
  • Children are using the Internet at younger and younger ages.
  • Surveillance does not create safety — only the illusion of safety.
  • Think less about digital citizenship. The Internet is a huge part of life and we are citizens on and offline.
  • Digital world communication often eliminates a person’s visual and aural signals setting the scene for misunderstanding.

Teens                                             Continue reading