For this assignment I have been tasked with creating something to teach a specific group about digital citizenship. Because of the nature of my work and life, it is not so easy to identify just one group. I am a mother of young children who are just beginning to learn to use digital tools, I run an aftercare program for elementary aged students, and I teach online at the college level. The people I work with at each of these levels are equally deserving of receiving some guidance. However, as the majority fall into the K-5 age range (including my own children), I have decided to create an art based lesson plan to teach about digital citizenship.
In public schools, kids as young as five are now learning to navigate online. This may come as a surprise, but most schools around the United States are now treating digital literacy as a top curriculum priority. In addition to learning to use and navigate the internet, students also learn to conduct research and even take their standardized tests online.
For that reason, it is of particular importance that all schools teach students about digital literacy. What follows is a general guide that principals can use to begin an educational conversation about digital literacy at their schools.
Step 1: Start a Conversation
Teachers should begin by introducing the topic of “citizenship.” This can be integrated into the curriculum, especially history and civics lessons. They can talk to students about the following:
- What does the word “citizen” mean? (dictionary definition)
- What does it imply?
- Who is a citizen?
- What are the responsibilities of a citizen?
- Why is good citizenship important?
Students can then help the teacher to design a bulletin board for the class that showcases what they have learned about citizenship. This lesson can be altered according to the grade level. It can even include outside research.
Step 2: Bridging Ideas
After all classes have had a conversation about “citizenship,” teachers can now have the more difficult conversation about digital citizenship. This conversation is more difficult because an online space is less definable than a country or state, for example. However, teachers might find that students, who are digital natives, have a less difficult time conceiving of the internet as a “real” space than adults do.
This conversation will be similar to the one about citizenship. The same questions can even be used, with some variation for the new terminology:
- What does the term “digital citizen” mean? (dictionary definition)
- What does it imply?
- Who is a digital citizen?
- What are the responsibilities of a digital citizen?
- Why is good digital citizenship important?
This time, however, instead of making one bulletin board, they will add to what was already created, making alterations as needed, to show how the ideas of “citizenship” and “digital citizenship” overlap.
Step 3: Branching Out
The principal will then hold a presentation for the entire school in which the ideas of digital citizenship are discussed. The principal can either do the presentation herself or bring in an outside company. Some options include:
During the presentation, the principal/ presenter should give a more comprehensive overview of digital citizenship, placing emphasis on why it is important and how it can help students to be safe. At the end of the presentation, the principal will then challenge students to create a poster to show what they have learned about digital citizenship.
Step 4: Poster Contest
For the next month, teachers will continue to have conversations about digital citizenship and to incorporate it into lessons and projects. They will also give students time either in class or in art class to work on their posters. Computer teachers and counselors will also make a point to add to this conversation.
When one month as elapsed, the students will submit their poster entries. The posters will be judged by the principal and others. One student from each grade or class will be chosen to receive a prize. During the next assembly, the principal will give out the awards and describe why each poster was chosen.
After the assembly, all of the posters will be hung around the school to serve as reminders of the importance of being good digital citizens.
I created three sample informational posters that could be used for educational purposes: