Fact Checking & Commenting Skills Go Hand-in-Hand

commenting sprialLearning to comment well, avoid chatter, and identify made-up news and comments — before sharing or forwarding them —  is a critical 21st Century literacy skill.

Each week I receive a terrific email on  fact checking, sent from the Poynter Institute, an independent group that promotes excellent and innovative journalism in our 21st Century democracy.  Poynter’s weekly email message contains all sorts of interesting tidbits, quotes, and information that can help people learn more about information accuracy.

Several weeks ago the Pointer email contained the following quote that can be used as a teaching tool with students in class or with the family discussions around the dinner table.                        Continue reading

Building Habits of Credibility into the Curriculum & the Conversation

21st Century Vocabulary Words - Credibility

21st Century Vocabulary Words – Credibility

How do we help children identify and understand information that is not credible?

Election seasons provide some of the best opportunities to teach 21st Century young people about credibility — in school, at home, online and off. As we go about electing new leaders, we see and hear candidates stating all sorts of claims, assertions, rumors, and postulations. Some are true, others slightly true, some absurdly false, but all come via various media, social and otherwise, though not always online.

Use the months before an election to encourage young people, and your child especially, to think about credibility. Focus on the ways that media share information and on how to discover whether facts are true or not true.           Continue reading

5 New Year’s Resolutions to Improve Parents’ & Kids’ Digital Literacy Skills

The New York Times recently published For the New Year, Let’s Resolve to Improve Our Tech Literacy, about the need for leaders, law enforcement officials and policy makers to increase their digital world literacy. The December 23, 2015 article, written by Farhad Manjoo, points out that many the big problems that occur in our world become even more complicated because the leaders and law enforcement personnel do not have a big-picture understanding of the vast changes technology brings to today’s world. Greater understanding might strengthen our leaders’ problem solving skills.

This article looks at the importance of digital literacy on a large-scale.

Tech Literacy

As I finished reading, I began thinking about resolutions on a smaller scale — those steps that adults and children can take in 2016 to improve a family’s tech literacy and perhaps prevent at least some of the potential connected-world problems. It’s a fast-paced, always-changing 21st Century world and everyone has a lot to learn. Many of the issues that do occur are made worse because kids and parents do not have enough knowledge to anticipate what might go wrong and take steps to steer clear of problems.

Below are five digital literacy resolutions that parents can make, and all of them can help people — both adults and children — become more sensible and savvy connected world citizens.                                                                  Continue reading

Let’s Teach Children How to Comment

Knowing how to write a comment that is appropriate for different online settings is a critical literacy skill for 21st Century children (and also for many of their parents). Too often young comment writers end up fervently wishing they had thought a bit more about what they posted.

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.53.29 PMEducators and parents need to pay serious attention to the commenting lives of kids. While the World Wide Web and social media offer young children, pre-adolescents, and teens nearly unlimited opportunities to comment and express their opinions, problems occur when young people do not possess the impulse control skills for such unrestricted access.                             Continue reading

5 Digital Citizenship Moments: Adult Conversational Digressions for Kids

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.

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Digital Footprints: Changing What We Teach

Check out Richardson’s Book.

Recently, after reading Will Richardson’s article Footprints in the Digital Age, I began thinking about how much attention we pay to online safety and security without thinking nearly as much about teaching kids how to be literate consumers and competent creators of content. Richardson’s article started me thinking about how I might refine the way I teach digital citizenship to fifth graders.

While safety and security will never be left out of  the curriculum, the 2008 Educational Leadership article  convinced me to put more effort into helping my students think of digital footprints as only one part of the digital life equation. The other part of this equation involves teaching children to think proactively about the online narratives that they are creating and helping them begin to understand how other people will be searching for each of them — and for appropriate reasons. My students and their parents need to become curators of the digital content in their profiles, just as any highly skilled museum curator creates an exhibition.

A strong digital profile, Richardson writes, “Google’s well.”        Continue reading

Copyright: Lessig on History, Creativity, and Sharing

In his 2008 TED talk, law professor Lawrence Lessig describes the history of copyright policy, illustrating the reasons why our laws in general and copyright laws in particular should evolve to reflect contemporary culture and information.

Thoughtful and thought-provoking, this lecture contains information that can be used as conversation starters for parents and teachers of digital kids.