The 2014 AIMS Technology Retreat is off to a terrific start with Grant Lichtman’s presentation about the challenges inherent in educational innovation and transformation. I’m attending this retreat with 150 tech leaders, librarians, administrators, and teachers representing more than 60 independent schools in the Washington, DC and Baltimore area.
Many of us think a good deal about how our schools might change and innovate. We consider how best to help our students make good use of their 21st Century access to vast amounts of knowledge. Most of us take seriously a new mission that requires us to enable students as they mold themselves into collaborators, dynamic learners, good problem solvers, and experiential learners. We also know that it’s critical to help them become confident enough to learn in a world that continuously changes (and at great speed).
This conversation is actually about becoming better progressive educators.
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.
I am away from school today, attending the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) 2013 conference in Washington, DC. I plan to post several times over the course of the two days, and because I am putting connected-world sharing above almost-perfect prose, I’ll make basic edits as I write but spend more time tonight and tomorrow fine-tuning my posts.
The conference, held in the Ronald Reagan International Trade Conference, features all sorts of digital life movers and shakers who offer information and guidance to parents, children, and educators.
One always has interesting first impressions at the beginning of any conference. Is it easy to get settled? Yes. Is the wifi ready and easy for us to use? Yes, and I am using it now. Are the people friendly and helpful? A definite yes. And finally, does the conference facility have a coat check? Yes! There’s nothing worse than toting around a coat all day during a conference. It remains to be seen if it will be easy to recharge my laptop when necessary, but I expect that will not be difficult either.
So now I get to excitedly anticipate the FOSI program. I await the panel on new research. I’m eager to hear from danah boyd (lower case intentional), especially about her upcoming book, It’s Complicated. (Editor’s Note: Even when I knew just a few of the many wonderful things about danah I was already a fan just because she attended the same university as my daughter.) Another author I’ll be interested to hear is Catherine Steiner-Adair, whose book, The Big Disconnect, is my current read and featured on the front of this blog.
Pew researchers asked educators about the effect of digital tools on their students’ writing skills. They also wanted to gather more information about the digital tools that teachers use in their classrooms and find out whether these tools help students become better writers. Survey participants were also asked to share their views about the skills their 21st Century students’ will need to be successful in their future lives.
A Few of the Pew Findings
Many teachers believe that the increasing digital world audience for writers encourages students of all ages to taking writing more seriously.
Seventy-nine percent of the educators surveyed agree or strongly agree that digital tools encourage students to collaborate with one another.
You have just shared several websites and take a moment to comment to children about digital footprints. Or perhaps you sent an e-mail that you wish you had not sent and you mention that it’s not possible to get something back once it’s sent out electronically. Maybe you open a website of poor quality and point out one or two things that could be improved.
These are moments, each probably less than a minute of conversational digression, that reinforce the digital citizenship habits of children. These comments can be incorporated into any discussion or lesson.
Each time adults comment on digital citizenship issues in the context of daily lessons and classroom life, we model a kind of digital intelligence that students can emulate and embrace, whether they are working or playing.
When educators and parents make time for digital digressions, moments of digital citizenship addressing crucial issues, they informally incorporate behavioral values that are a part of 21st Century connected learning. More importantly, these moments allow children to observe that just about every digital activity incorporates time-tested values such as careful evaluation, respect, collaboration, and inclusiveness.
Five Digital Citizenship Moments to Incorporate into Any Conversation
1. Pause for a moment whenever you use a web site, and explain one or two things that you like about it (or don’t like). Or explain just how you found the website.
Just about every day I have a grammar question, despite that in junior high school I was an ace at diagramming sentences. Most commonly I need to figure out how to punctuate something I have written. I search for an answer, and I want to remember the information — if possible — so that I can use it the next time the same question arises. Yes, I could consult The Elements of Style, On Writing Well, The Chicago Manual of Style, or countless other good grammar books.
These days, however, when I am puzzling over a comma or a particular word, I almost always go online to find a podcast at Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips. I listen to the explanation, usually accompanied by music and amusing examples, and even days later I still remember the rule or the spelling or usage — even if the topic has not reappeared in my writing.
If you have not checked out the Grammar Girl podcasts, take some time to do so. They are great fun — two words that I never associated with sentence diagrams.