I’ve just finished up a digital citizenship unit with my students, covering privacy, digital footprints, digital communication and the lack of human cues, and a bit about how easy it is for a person to cyber-bully using sarcasm, criticism, and flippant comments. It’s a lot to cover in a month, but we manage quite well.
After we complete the classroom activities, and most of these are collaborative smaller projects, the children complete a final poster project. I expect the poster to communicate as much information as possible on one of the topics. The posters are not digital creations because we hang them in a school hallway — a digital citizenship exhibition — for a month in the winter.
I am always amazed at the way these posters demonstrate how much my students have learned. Some children focus on the artwork, while others are more text oriented. Still others use a computer, clip art, or a presentation tool, combining components to make their posters.
These children have no difficulty communicating enormous amounts information on each topic, and it’s clear — without giving a quiz — who has mastered the content. Naturally a few children take it less seriously, and just a few whom I ask to do more work on the project. But this is the way of teaching and learning.
Now I know that all of this effort — mine and theirs — does not mean that these fifth graders will sail through pre adolescence and the teenage years without digital woes. Few do. But I also know, and these posters prove, that digital citizenship information is carefully stored in each of their brains, ready to be used at a later time, even if it takes doing something silly — or wrong or embarrassing — before some of relevant points show up and serve as behavioral trail markers.
My students know the material — the vocabulary, the important concepts, and why all of these ideas are so important. More significantly, my students can communicate what they’ve learned to other people. Why, then, would I need to give them a grade?
N.B. These illustrations are two of the posters that my students made.