Digiteen: Teaching Digital Citizenship – teens teaching ten year olds

Today was the fourth “class” in our digiteen project. In this project, students researched the nine aspects of digital citizenship and had to create an offline action project.

Some students chose to work with middle school students and others chose elementary age. Each group is responsible for 20 minutes of “training” and discussion with the age group they have selected.

Today was the second day of the fourth grade student training. Yesterday we talked about the ways they can access the Internet including the new smaller laptops for kids AND cell phones. They discussed how to report problems in webkins and the importance of being wary of public chat rooms and “checking out” offline before adding them online.

We also discussed xbox and wii live and safe ways to play online (by finding friends ahead of time.) Students cautioned the younger students about chatting via xbox live with headsets to strangers. (a completely unmonitored activity.)

Yesterday, they also discussed addictive behaviors and how much is too much? It is amazing to see the rapt attention and nodding heads from fourth graders with the ninth graders leading the discussions. It is also interesting to see the ninth graders step back and see their own behaviors differently.

My ninth graders were adults to the younger children. They were well educated and well spoken and they had what most of us teachers couldn't have in a million years… they were cool!

Today we talked about cell phones. How to pay attention to the people right in front of you and not ignore them because of texting. “People face to face should be in first place,” was our saying I created for them.

It breaks my heart as we talk about this, though. Some kids said, “Well, my mom is always on the phone and never talks to me. She always talks on the phone instead of to me.”

Again, think parents about putting your family in first place. (Guess I'd better cut this post short and spend time with hubby.)

We also talked about how the cell phone IS on the internet. The students told the younger ones that every photo or video being taken on a cell phone could be on the internet immediately.

To demonstrate this, I twittered from my cell phone and people from around the world responded. They asked Sue Waters in Australia about the sharks and were amazed at how the Internet connects.

Then, we did a gcast podcast that I recorded and posted live on the Internet (I took it back down afterwards.) They were amazed.

Our point: the cell phone IS the Internet.

The teacher was amazed but we were too when two students confessed to sending 500 text messages a day on the first day. The students ALL decided together that the best thing to do is to charge the phone in the kitchen away from the bedroom or to put it in a drawer in the kitchen.

It was fascinating to see the students recognize what was wrong and propose what should happen to fix it.

It is about taking time to pull students back and reflect upon what they are doing in order to decide if that is what they want. Sometimes talking in third person helps kids decide what they want to do with their first person.

Overall, it has been one of the best things we've done this year. We are going to do more of it next year, that is for sure. The teachers love it and I do too!

My students rock!

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Lee Ann Spillane: May 15, 2008 - 12:46 pm

sounds incredible! and has me thinking of ways my service learning seniors could hold such forums for underclassmen next year. Thank you!

loonyhiker May 15, 2008 - 1:38 pm

These were such great lessons and I love how relevant they are to today’s world. You are doing a great job!

Liz Kolb May 15, 2008 - 8:50 pm

This is a fantastic idea! Thank you for sharing it. I love the idea of “teaching to learn to teach” with digital citizenship! Great incentive for the teens and how fun that the 10 year olds get a “cool” teenager as their instructor.

Anonymous May 16, 2008 - 2:41 pm

I enjoy hearing what you are doing with your students —

I would really like you to showcase what other teachers at your school are doing with the same students…..
this cannot all be happening just in your classroom……

There has to be expanding impact – right??

Adam May 16, 2008 - 8:18 pm

Amazing! Students talking to each other…who would have thought? I think we spend too much time trying to figure out how to broach these topics with students, where if we just start them talking the ideas spill out…

Vicki A. Davis May 16, 2008 - 10:05 pm

@lee ann @liz- Yes, using students to mentor others on this topic is transformational for all of them, and the teacher.

@loonyhiker – Thank you for your continual encouragement!

@anonymous – We did have a teacher “adopt” a webkinz this year to talk about these topics with her class. Just remember that I teach a full load and am IT director and work with all of the classes k-12 on technology. So, at our small school, I’m THE technology person. It is really hard for me to get around. I wish the other teachers blogged so they could share more of what they are doing. It has had an impact and does move into other classes (the students often take it there), however, I am not everywhere to see it. Maybe one day I’ll have a fellow blogger here at my school, until then, I’ll just have to take the teacher’s word that after these events with my students that they have gone back to their classrooms to have very meaningful discussions.

I think every school, including mine, needs to do more in this area.

Casey May 19, 2008 - 3:35 am


Steve May 20, 2008 - 2:17 pm

Excellent ideas
Question: if THEY are the “digital natives”, why is much of this new to them? Is our own digital agenda driving “integration” or are we just responding to the needs of “digital natives”? Can we get read of the digital native/digital immigrant borders (myths?) and just learn and teach in this highly connected and digital age?

Comments are closed.

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