Monday, December 17, 2012

Digital Citizenship

What is Digital Citizenship?  Manson Northwest Webster describes it as using technology responsibly, appropriately, and safely.   It's one thing to use a tablet or computer and its apps to learn basic literacy skills.  In fact digital natives are quite adept at just that.  However, learning to create, read critically, use online content responsibly and be a respectful digital citizen are not always skills that can be learned without the guidance of a teacher.

We know students in many instances are much more savvy in using technology than the adults. However, putting technology in the hands of a child at any age does not automatically make them a good digital citizen.  Even at only two years old, my granddaughters know that an iphone, ipad, and a laptop are for communicating, reading books, and playing games.  But obviously they don’t know anything about using technology safely and responsibly.  They will need to be taught what digital citizenship means and given many opportunities to apply it meaningfully as they grow through their years.

Recently an experiment was conducted by the nonprofit organization One Laptop Per Child.  OLPC dropped tablets into a remote Ethiopian village and found that the children, without an adult teaching them, figured out how to use the tablet and in doing so used the apps to learn the English alphabet and basic literacy skills.  But again, there are many levels of using technology.  While these children were able to figure out the basics of the technology themselves, learning to read critically and create and participate online responsibly and safely was not possible without the guidance of a teacher. Sure, we can place a tablet in the hands of children who have never seen print, and they can figure out how to run it. But what happens when and if those children become connected to a global online community?

For many people digital citizenship encompasses much of what they do. With students maintaining and commenting on blogs, uploading videos and engaging in online learning, playing online games, and participating in social communities, it is imperative that they understand their rights and responsibilities when it comes to content creation and consumption, as well as how to conduct themselves socially online. That’s why MNW has a K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum.  The district believes teaching students to use technology safely and responsibly is an important part of 21st Century Learning.  All K-12 teachers use this curriculum to embed elements of digital citizenship into their lessons and units so it can be taught explicitly and practiced regularly.

Matt Ivester offers “10 Tests of Good Digital Citizenship”  that may help people of all ages judge their actions and make digital decisions. These are good considerations relative to Digital Footprints that are constantly being made. This resource is via a blog by Marcia Connor of the business world.

Most of you who read this post probably consider yourselves very proficient with technology use. But, after looking at MNW’s Digital Citizenship Curriculum and reading Ivester’s 10 Tests of Good Digital Citizenship, how do you rate yourself in the Digital Citizenship category?  Are you a good Digital Citizen?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What Will the Iowa Core Look Like in 
Manson Northwest Webster Classrooms?

The purpose of the Iowa Core/Common Core is to transform teaching and learning in all classrooms so students are college and career ready. So what does that mean for the teachers and students at Manson Northwest Webster?  The Iowa Core/Common Core highlights five shifts that should be happening in every classroom when the Core is fully implemented.

·         Lead high level, text-based discussions –This is as simple as  when  asking students to discuss a text as a whole class or in small groups, make sure the questions are grounded in the text, and  that students refer to the text in their responses.  While personal reactions and opinions are important, they should first be in response to what is being read.

·         Focus on process not just content – Teachers are passionate about their subjects and we are glad they are serious about students learning the skills and concepts because content obviously matters.  However, we cannot merely fill students’ heads with content; we should no longer ask students to just to memorize facts and details.  Instead, we should engage students in the learning process. Give students the opportunity to really understand the concept and connect it to their own lives. When students make multiple connections between a new learning and their own experiences, they develop a better understanding of what they are learning and learn the details along the way.

·         Create assignments for real audiences with real purposes - Of course teachers can create fake situations or simulate audiences for projects.  However, if our goal is to prepare students for life beyond school, they need to be given experiences like those they will have later. 

·         Teach argument, not persuasion - Logical argument convinces the audience because of the  merit and reasonableness of the claims and proofs offered rather than either the emotions the writing.  It is more for college and career to know how to create a logical argument and to be able to persuade someone.

·         Increase text complexity - It’s not just about the textbook anymore!  Besides making sure that an individual text is challenging enough, teachers can also raise the level of content in their classroom by using multiple sources of information. Providing multiple sources on the same topic can help students see a variety of perspectives, and it can help students adjust to texts at varying levels of difficulty.

Although the MNW staff  has been learning about the Iowa Core for a couple of years and thinking about what it means for the classroom, teachers are now in the process of furthering their study of the Core by taking part in area-wide professional development sessions.  During these sessions, the teachers collaborate with colleagues in surrounding districts and schools and follow an Iowa Core Investigations process that will help them discover what the Core is all about. While there are a lot of great learning opportunities going on in MNW classrooms, it’s quite likely not all classrooms have been transformed to reflect the Iowa Core/Common Core.  Learning the Core documents at a deep level during these inservice days is a first step to changing instruction and learning in the classrooms.

Even though we could approach the Iowa Core/Common Core as a compliance issue, we have chosen to look at the Core as an opportunity to prepare our students for their life beyond school.  The Iowa Core/Common Core is about learning and that’s what we’re about at Manson Northwest Webster.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Technology at Manson Northwest Webster Elementary

I have been intrigued by infographs and have been wanting to try one.  The influx of technology at Manson Northwest Webster Elementary seemed like a good place to start.  I used the free version of the web tool Piktochart.  Although the tool wasn't foolproof and the graphics options were limited in the free version, I think I was able to capture the essence of the information and data about technology at Manson Northwest Webster Elementary.  As you can see, however, the information is too small and in many places too fuzzy to read.  The tool didn't allow me to convert it to a pdf, and I ended up having to save it as a image in order to upload it here.  Then, of course, I wasn't able to make it larger for this posting. Although...maybe all the issues were just me...  Next step - a program that will do a more complete job of displaying my information.