We use Common Sense Media in our school district but I felt like the unit was too short this year, my first year of teaching. I spent about three or four weeks on it at the very beginning of the school year. This is a good introduction but because students continue to access the World Wide Web and share information throughout their everyday lives and not just in the classroom, I feel that greater emphasis and more time should be spent on digital citizenship. This is a critical thinking skill and one that they will need for the rest of their lives, not just in the realm of their 4th and 5th grade media literacy time.
We show the Jigsaw video from CEOPs ThinkUKnow Education Program.
I believe in the power of story and video to convey a message effectively. This video is truly effective and opens the eyes of my students to online deception and protecting privacy.
When I started investigating this strand for the purpose of adding more to our unit, I was very impressed by the video on the Digital Tattoo and Digital Citizenship page of CoolToolsfor Schools.
When I finished that video I felt truly queazy… the same feeling I had after watching Jigsaw Assembly.
We also use the Webonauts Internet Academy by PBS and I would like to add Safetyland by AT&T to that for next year. The games will reinforce what students have been thinking about after watching the videos.
I read about the idea of using padlets to discuss cyberbullying anonymously. I think that’s a great way to get ideas out without putting children on the spot. It may help to share more personal stories which always have a greater impact than a list of rules at the front of the room.
Next year I would like to bridge the digital citizenship unit into teaching critical thinking of online resources and information. I have used the Tree Octopus website for a lesson on evaluating websites and I’ve seen The Dog Island. I would like a larger collection of false websites to use for younger students. I’ve seen websites about Martin Luther King Jr. and some others but I think the best websites are those that 4th and 5th graders could effectively evaluate in order to determine inaccuracies and misleading information.
I looked at snopes.com, listed on LifeHacker.com, from this article: How to Avoid Spreading Misinformation. I wouldn’t want to share Snopes.com with fifth graders because of the headlines posted on the website. The site would be a great resource for high school students and maybe middle school as well. Breakthechain.org has been discontinued and TruthorFiction.com also seems too old for elementary students with all the charged political headlines students would have to weed through before understanding the message.
I liked the Digizens website, which I will use as a resource next year and probably with my own children as they get older.
As I said, Digital Citizenship is probably one of the most important topics I teach during the school year in Media Literacy. I feel that I didn’t spend enough time on it this year and I plan on spending double or triple the amount of time next year. It is an important life skill, more important than learning how to use word processing or typing. Critical thinking will protect users while wading through an enormous pool of information and building online relationships.