Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Helping Teens Think About What They Post

This morning as I was getting ready for work I heard two stories on the news, one from NPR and another on the Today Show, that were great reminders for the importance of talking to students about the appropriate use of technology.  In the past few months two mobile device apps, Snapchat and Wickr, have appeared on the market.  Both of these applications allow users to send content in the form of photos or text messages to other individuals and set timeframes for when the content will automatically delete itself from the recipient's device.  Here is the catch though...with a few additional clicks a screenshot of that material can be easily captured for later use.  Digital data is never gone forever and that is a key digital citizenship concept our students must fundamentally understand when it comes to using technology.

Digital citizenship is something that can and should be easily integrated into any content area and grade level.  As a matter of fact, schools are now required to
"...educate minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response."  
The exact lessons and amount of instructional time spent on this content are left up to individual teachers and school sites to decide based upon the needs of their students.  As a school we have selected Common Sense Media's Digital Literacy and Citizenship curriculum to assist teachers with integrating this content into classrooms lessons.  The curriculum has age-appropriate lessons from elementary through high school built around eight categories.

  • Internet Safety
  • Privacy & Security
  • Relationships & Communication
  • Cyberbullying
  • Digital Footprint & Reputation
  • Self-Image & Identity
  • Information Literacy
  • Creative Credit & Copyright

The Digital Literacy and Citizenship curriculum can be introduced as part of a technology elective in the grades where we offer that course, however the concepts need to be reinforced throughout all our classes.  As a matter of fact, last year NCS teachers identified lessons they planned to teach, but each of us needs to find ways for bringing this content into our classrooms through authentic classroom lessons and experiences.  The lessons within the Common Sense Media curriculum are designed so that teachers and can easily modify the content and use the lessons independently from other lessons within the curriculum.  For example, if you are using Edmodo with your students for classroom discussions you might consider using the Build Your Ideal Community lesson to work with students on appropriate conversations and interactions for promoting positive online communities.

After Winter Break we will spend some of our professional development time reviewing the Common Sense Media Curriculum and developing links between these lessons and the units each of us already teach.  However, to get things started you might consider your own lessons and technology use and explore the Common Sense Media curriculum to begin making your own connections.


Photo: IMG_5503 by Tray on Flickr


  1. I stumbled up on some students facebook posts this week. It reminded me more than ever that they need to understand the impact of what they say and how they say it.

    1. Perhaps we should develop a unit on digital footprints? It could tie in nicely with analytical writing or genre choices. I would love to help with this and do some lessons on the technology side.